De Vries to replace Hamilton in first practice at Paul Ricard

2022 French Grand Prix

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Nyck de Vries will make his second appearance in a Formula 1 practice session this weekend in France, taking Lewis Hamilton’s place at Mercedes.

The reigning Formula E champion will step into the seven-times Formula 1 champion’s W13 as Mercedes test further upgrades to their car.

De Vries previously drove Alexander Albon’s Williams in the first practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix. He impressed by lapping almost tenth of a second faster than the team’s regular driver Nicholas Latifi.

Formula 1 teams are required to run drivers with limited experience in a practice session in each of their two cars at least once this season, under a new regulation introduced this year. Mercedes say Hamilton’s team mate George Russell will give up his car at a practice session later in the season.

Nyck de Vries, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya, 2022
De Vries has already made a practice outing for Williams this weekend
Following a difficult start to the season, Mercedes has enjoyed a more competitive run in recent races. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said the team will bring further updates to its car this weekend in a bid to narrow its deficit to Red Bull and Ferrari.

“We scored three podiums in the first seven races and we have now achieved four in the last four,” said Wolff. “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.”

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2022 French 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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30 comments on “De Vries to replace Hamilton in first practice at Paul Ricard”

  1. Good to see that young drivers are again getting at least some opportunities to test F1 cars.

    1. De Vries is 27 years old, he hasn’t be a young driver for quite some time.

    2. Eh.. young? He’s 27.

      1. Raymond Pang
        20th July 2022, 14:17

        Shorthand for “not had much recent experience”. Which is how Alonso qualified for it at the age of 40.

        1. And how recent is recent? Let’s see who Ferrari come up with (and, interestingly, when): Giovinazzi?

          1. @bullfrog because of Alonso, the regulations were subsequently changed to specify that the rookie driver tests are only open to drivers who have not driven in more than two GPs, so Giovinazzi would no longer qualify. The more likely options for Ferrari would therefore be Schwartzmann or Ilott.

  2. Interesting choice by Mercedes, given the widespread briefing that this will be their most competitive weekend so far. You would have thought they’d want their full-time drivers in the car as much as possible, to optimise setup and strategy in preparation for a race where they might be in with a shot of pole and/or a win.

    However I suppose this has been planned well in advance and it’s not always easy to change the arrangements at the last minute. As they are required to run rookies in free practice at some point during the season a lot will hinge on factors like driver availability.

    1. It kinda makes sense though as Lewis doesnt really need the practice anyway, and George is ahead in the championship.

    2. Believe the choice was made due to nature of the circuit – large runoffs with minimal change of damage.

    3. These are planned in advance usually, i.e. Kubica will have 2 more FP1s soon as part of his contract. All the top drivers these days only are up to speed on a couple laps, so it won’t hurt Hamilton

      1. Indeed, and both Mercedes’ reserve drivers being currently running in the formula E championship this has to be planned well before.

        1. Kubica is going to drive in French FP1 Alfa has confirmed

    4. @red-andy Besides the points already made, Circuit Paul Ricard is among the most suitable choices for such purpose, given runoff space & how familiar all regular drivers are with the track.

      1. Good point about the extra run off areas, meaning the rookie wont wreak the car if he goes off. I believe Mercedes are coming with engine upgrades so i imagine the test driver wont be going flat out.

        Also Hamilton is already use to giving up his P1 & P2 to test new componants. Hopefully that wont be the case again as Hamilton settles on just achieving the best setup in the remaining practices.

    5. Chris Medland tweeted that Mercedes allowed drivers to choose which FP1 they take off and this was Lewis’s choice.

  3. @red-andy I suspect Lewis was involved in the decision as he would have been compelled to give up an FP1 at some point in the year anyway. He has always gone well there in the past so I suspect he could have reasoned that this track will be the least worst choice.

    However given where the car was earlier in the year, I would have thought it better to give up an FP1 then. Probably doesn’t matter anyway given his experience.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      20th July 2022, 11:36

      @chimaera2003 Probably the least risk to the car to have a young driver test at Paul Ricard – you can have big off and you still probably won’t get near a wall.

      It’s also easier to hone in on a nice setup if the car is behaving rather than trying to find a solution to make your car somewhat drivable. I doubt it’ll affect him too much to miss FP1 here.

      1. @petebaldwin asides from the low risk of a driver crashing and damaging the car, the smooth surface of the track and the relatively consistent weather conditions are also likely to simplify the set up challenges – I’m kind of surprised that more teams haven’t taken advantage of it for this circuit.

      2. @chimaera2003 @petebaldwin I don’t doubt it either, Nyck De Vries has been their long time reserve and sim testing driver so he’s a known entity to MB & Ham. I suspect that transition and info given will be in a language that Hams engineers will understand making it easier for Ham to jump in the a car that wont be too far off and he can use FP2 to focus more on fuel weight & tire feel for long runs and quali set up’s.
        I think where it gets really frustrating for regular drivers & engineers is giving up their seat to a junior driver not with the team and never driven an F1 car before. I sure that would make any driver or engineer very nervous; except maybe for Kimi : )

  4. I think Nyck deserves his photo heading this article, not Lewis. :)

    1. Agreed

  5. Waste of time but they are getting the young FP out of the way.

    1. These things are never a waste of time. The teams can gain valuable data in so many ways in each of these sessions as F1 doesn’t have limitless testing like in the past

      1. If you mean the car, I don’t think they are gaining more valuable data since they were gonna get to do FP1 anyway.

        1. They can use it to correlate data in the Sim, as just one example of how it can be important.

  6. It’s just a shame that Williams can’t even test their own young drivers, make their own choice, but Mercedes gets “the spot”. Sad days for what remained of privately owned teams (just names I guess). It’s also sad to see that a few teams practically own contrasts of all young (and less young) drivers and just keep signing all the children, cornering the market. I think this should be limited.

  7. At the beginning of the season I would have expected most teams using FP1 driver change here. At that point Paul Ricard wasn’t supposed to hold F2 race but the race was added to the calendar after Russian GP was understandably called off.

    Sometimes drivers have done FP1 sessions on the same weekend as they drive in FP2 but I’m not sure it’s optimal preparation for the weekend.

    There are five races remaining in the calendar where F2 is not in the programme: Singapore, Suzuka, Austin, Mexico City and Interlagos. Of those Singapore is a circuit where regular drivers need as much driving time as possible and Interlagos has a sprint which means young drivers won’t be considered for FP1. So there would be three options, I think Vasseur mentioned that in one interview recently.

  8. Is this the first time Mercedes are running someone else in practice than their race drivers?

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