Mercedes reserve Vandoorne says 'it hurt' not to have been called up to replace Hamilton
On the face of it, as Mercedes reserve, Stoffel Vandoorne was the natural choice to replace Lewis Hamilton for the Sakhir Grand Prix when the recently crowned 7-time world champion tested positive for Covid-19. But in the end the prize seat went to Williams driver George Russell – a decision Vandoorne admits “hurt”.
Vandoorne has been present with the Silver Arrows at races this year, dovetailing his reserve role with driving in Formula E for the German manufacturer. After testing his Formula E car in Spain on Tuesday, Vandoorne flew straight out to Bahrain to join up with the team, though he soon discovered he wouldn’t be adding to the 41 Grand Prix starts he achieved with McLaren from 2016-2018.
Writing on social media, Vandoorne admitted his was disappointed not to get his chance, but that he respected the decision to call-up Russell.
“Firstly, I want [to] wish Lewis Hamilton a speedy recovery and hopefully he’ll be back in the car asap! Nobody can really replace him!” Vandoorne wrote.
“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!
“On the other hand, 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%!”
Vandoorne has scored 26 points in F1 to date, with a best finish of seventh.
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