Lewis Hamilton to be replaced by Nyck de Vries for FP1 as insurance plan takes shape

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has confirmed that Nyck de Vries will be given his chance to impress this weekend at the French Grand Prix by replacing Lewis Hamilton in the first practice session. De Vries was initially signed to McLaren’s young driver programme back in 2010 before joining Mercedes as a reserve driver last year.

The 2019 F2 champion was tipped for a seat in F1 the following year, but ended up joining the Formula E Championship for Mercedes. He went on to win the Formula E Championship in just his second year and is now looking to make a name for himself in F1.

The 27-year-old made his F1 practice debut earlier this year when he replaced Alex Albon for FP1 at the Spanish Grand Prix. After De Vries’ outing in Barcelona, the Dutchman was described as Wolff’s “insurance policy” should Hamilton quit F1.

New rules in place for 2022 mean each team must give rookies a chance in at least two FP1 sessions. Mercedes have now confirmed that Hamilton will give up his seat this weekend for De Vries while George Russell will step aside later in the year.

Previewing this weekend’s race in France while also looking back on the team’s effort in Austria, Wolff said: “Third and fourth in Austria was a satisfying result for the whole team, particularly given the position we were in on Friday evening.

“The team worked miracles to have two complete race cars ready for the Sprint and Grand Prix. 27 points on Sunday were a good reward for that effort. We scored three podiums in the first seven races, and we have now achieved four in the last four.

“I’m pleased with the momentum we are building, and it reflects the mammoth effort of the team. Our understanding of the W13 is growing with every lap and it’s encouraging to see that reflected in our development and results.

“While we were quicker in Austria, we still weren’t quick enough to challenge at the front. We need to keep chasing those final few tenths and bringing new developments to the cars, including this weekend in France.

“Paul Ricard is a very different track and challenge. It has smooth tarmac and a wide range of corner types, along with long straights. The aim will be to make further inroads on the gap to the front and hopefully be back on the podium.

“Nyck is replacing Lewis in first practice this weekend, as part of the allocated sessions for young drivers this year. So, we’re looking forward to seeing how he gets on.”

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