Stoffel Vandoorne, Mercedes, Sochi, 2020

Vandoorne: Missed chance to replace Hamilton at Mercedes “hurts”

2020 Sakhir Grand Prix

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Stoffel Vandoorne admits it “hurts” to have missed out on an opportunity to return to Formula 1 in place of Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.

Although Vandoorne is one of Mercedes’ two nominated reserve drivers, and the only one with a superlicence, the team decided not to call him up as a substitute this weekend. It has drafted in junior driver George Russell from Williams to replace Hamilton, who has tested positive for Covid-19.

“I want [to] wish Lewis Hamilton a speedy recovery and hopefully he’ll be back in the car [as soon as possible],” wrote Vandoorne on social media. “Nobody can really replace him.”

“Obviously, I’m disappointed not to get the chance to drive for Mercedes this weekend. After having spent the year travelling to all F1 races and dedicating so much time, physical training, commitment to this programme… it hurts!”

Vandoorne, who races for Mercedes in Formula E, said he supported the team’s decision to give Russell an opportunity.

“I respect the choice of putting George Russell in the car. He has been one of the standout drivers and he fully deserves this opportunity.”

“It’s moments like these that make my drive even bigger and I can assure you I’m going to continue giving 100%,” he added.

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2020 Sakhir Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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13 comments on “Vandoorne: Missed chance to replace Hamilton at Mercedes “hurts””

  1. Having this role will become redundant in the longer-term if he isn’t going to get back to being a regular F1 driver.

  2. Well the interests and protections of the majority (mercedes petronas f1 team) take precedence I believe. Feel for you though.

  3. COVID-19 allowing, you’d just want to give him a hug really.

  4. At least he still gets paid to travel the world and race cars, if that’s any consolation. Hopefully he’ll be ok. :-)

  5. Classy response (especially compared to Louis Delétraz!!!)

    1. @georgeod I believe Deletraz was taking a risk, shooting his Parthian shots and burning any bridges before shifting focus away from single-seaters from 2021 onwards. I was initially wondering why Steiner went with the race-rusth Pietro Fittipaldi and not Deletraz (name factor might have played a role I dunno, Fittipaldi is a name you associate with greatness, Deletraz not quite), but if Deletraz’s social media shenanigans are a reflection of the person he is I don’t blame Steiner and Co.

  6. He had a lot of chances a few years ago. Next.

  7. Just like Russel has had a lot of opportunities to score up until now, yet he’s dead last in the championship again.

  8. It really calls into question the purpose of a Reserve Driver for the top teams. Most of them have young driver programs or drivers that have ties to them that are currently racing for “junior” teams on the grid. If Merc’s reasoning for choosing Russel over Vandoorne is that Russel has race experience, how can any Reserve Driver for a top team get that? It’s impossible. They will always pull from one of the junior teams, their young driver program or a just-retired racer. Reserve drivers who actually get in the car when a primary driver is unable to race only seem to be applicable to teams at the back of the pack.

  9. Russell was needed.

  10. Stoffel, should just take all of Mercedes’ secrets, and go to Red Bull for Albons seat in 2021.

  11. I feel for the lad but you never know what will happen. Kvyat looked a busted flush and he knew it but got back in through applying himself and being professional. Vandoorne did not take to f1 at all which is weird, his junior formula record is stella but I wonder if Grosjeans crash may have longer term ramifications for drivers longevity than we know right now.

    1. “Vandoorne did not take to F1 at all…”
      Stoffel is too much a nice guy. In a shark infested arena, Alonso did a Fernando number on him by always demanding the priority strategy wise, the best hardware revision, and car development. It took Stoffel over a year to get a race engineer just listen to his complaints. And even the Almighty Fernando looked a bit “Sebastian2020” in the McLaren.
      Stoffel has no big money, not an important country or a strong (wo)man behind him. Furthermore, I got the impression his manager tries harder to be in the good grace of Mr Todt JR than fighting for his own driver(s)…

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