Nick de Vries to replace Lewis Hamilton in first free practice at 2022 French Grand Prix.
A new rule was introduced prior to the start of the 2022 season, which mandated all teams to give two Free practice sessions to a rookie driver. A rookie driver is someone who “may not have participated in more than two F1 World Championship Races during their career”. Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton have decided to give Nyck de Vries the seat for W13 this Friday at French GP.
Nyck de Vries is a former Formula 2 world champion. He also went on to win the Formula E world title last year. The Dutch was earlier given a chance by the William’s F1 team to drive in FP1 at the Spanish GP this year. This time he gets an opportunity with the Silver Arrows at the Le Castlette.
Team Principal Totto Wolf gave a statement in the pre-weekend press release:
“Nyck de Vries will be driving in place of Lewis Hamilton in FP1. Over the course of the season, each driver is required to give up one of their first practice sessions for a young driver.
“Lewis has selected FP1 in France for his session, and George’s will take place later in the season.”
Will this affect Mercedes’s chances at the 2022 French GP?
Free practice sessions are important for tuning the cars for the main race day and qualification. An experienced driver like Lewis Hamilton is undoubtedly the first choice for a team to tune their car.
Also, the smooth track at Circuit Paul Ricard might favour Mercedes. The weather report also indicates a hot and dry race which will further help them with their tyre heating issues.
So, Missing First free practice wouldn’t be the ideal start for Hamilton this weekend. However, given the immense experience Hamilton possesses, missing one hour of practice sessions shouldn’t affect his main race.
Hamilton would be eying to end his winless streak of 11 races this season in France. The French GP would be his 300th start, and the seven-time world champion will surely put all his experience on display to secure the win.
The eight-time constructor’s champions will surely be in a hunt to secure their first win of the 2022 season at the French Grand Prix.
Hamilton’s chances at 2022 French GP
Hamilton has won French GP 2 times out of his five appearances at the race. He has also secured one podium here in his rookie season. Lewis Hamilton lost out to his championship rival Max Verstappen the previous season here at Circuit Paul Ricard.
He surely has a good record racing at Le Castlette. Red Bull Christian Horner has also shown his concerns in the latest interview.
“We’d expect them to be quick in Ricard,” Horner said.
Horner further elaborated that Mercedes are getting closer in terms of pace. “They’re showing flashes of being there or thereabouts, the last two races have been pretty decent for them and there has been no sign I think of any porpoising at all. So they seem to be slowly bringing themselves back into the game,” Horner added.
Surely, looking at the last 4-5 races, Mercedes has shown a commendable pace. However, they still seem to be lacking in catching Red Bull and Ferrari. The smooth track layout will favour Mercedes but can show help Ferrari too, who has shown greater tyre management than the rest.
However, Mercedes can really have a shot at French GP. The added reliability issues of Ferrari can play an x-factor for the Silver Arrows at the race. Also, the way Red Bull suffered with tyre wear in Austria and the predicted hot and dry race at Le Castlette, we can expect Red Bull to suffer with tyre issues.
Lewis Hamilton will surely try to grab all the opportunities this weekend as he appears in his 300th Grand Prix. Stay Tuned with The Sportsway for more updates.