Stoffel Vandoorne admits he was disappointed to be overlooked by the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team in favour of George Russell when Lewis Hamilton was forced to withdraw from this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix due to a positive coronavirus test.
Vandoorne is the official third and reserve driver for Mercedes but, despite travelling to Bahrain following the conclusion of the FIA Formula E test in Valencia, he was not chosen to replace the reigning World Champion.
Williams Racing’s Russell, who remains a protégé of Mercedes-Benz, was drafted in instead, with Vandoorne saying being overlooked for the role after so much effort in assisting the team in 2020 ‘hurts’.
However, he says Russell ‘fully deserves’ the opportunity after being one of the standout drivers in Formula 1 since he debuted at the start of 2019, despite not yet having broken into the points on a Sunday.
“Firstly, I want to wish Lewis Hamilton a speedy recovery and hopefully he’ll be back in the car ASAP,” Vandoorne is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “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!
“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%. Thank you so much everyone for all your supportive messages. It’s been great to see.”