Lewis Hamilton will not drive in the opening practice session at this weekend’s French Grand Prix with Mercedes choosing to field its Formula 1 reserve driver Nyck de Vries.
Under the sporting regulations for this year all teams are required to run a rookie driver in at least two FP1 sessions over the 2022 season.
Mercedes confirmed on Wednesday it would be giving up its first allocated FP1 slot to De Vries, who will get his first taste of the W13 at the Paul Ricard Circuit.
The team revealed it had given both its drivers the choice of when they would sit out an FP1 session this year, with Hamilton choosing France and thus allowing Mercedes to field a young driver.
“This weekend Nyck de Vries will be taking the wheel of W13 for FP1. Lewis has chosen this weekend to fulfil the first of two young driver sessions required by all teams this season,” Mercedes posted on its social media accounts.
Paul Ricard will mark De Vries’ second outing on a grand prix weekend this year after replacing Alex Albon at Williams during the Spanish Grand Prix for his F1 practice debut.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said the team is “looking forward” to seeing how De Vries will fair in the car following his previous mileage for Williams.
The Brackley-based outfit is on a good run of form as it heads to France, scoring three consecutive podium finishes, with many tipping it to be in the mix for victory this weekend.
Wolff is encouraged by the team’s progress now that it seems to be on top of its porpoising issues, believing recent results reflect how Mercedes is beginning to build momentum.
“We scored three podiums in the first seven races, and we have now achieved four in the last four,” Wolff said in Mercedes’ French Grand Prix preview.
“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.”
Mercedes also confirmed George Russell has selected a race later this season where he will step aside for a first practice session.