SEVEN-TIME Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton will be forced to sit out the first practice session at the French Grand Prix due to a little-known rule, it has been revealed.
For the 2022 F1 season, all ten teams are required to run a “young driver” in two FP1 sessions.
A driver who meets the rookie criteria is 2019 F2 and 2020-21 Formula E champion Nyck de Vries, and he will replace Hamilton for Mercedes in Friday’s FP1 at the Circuit Paul Ricard.
Merc said on the 27-year-old replacing Hamilton in FP1 ahead of this weekend: “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.”
Team principal Toto Wolff says he’s looking forward to seeing how De Vries gets on in an F1 car.
Wolff said: “Nyck is replacing Lewis in first practice this weekend as part of the allocated sessions for young drivers this year.
“So we are looking forward to seeing how he gets on.”
Hamilton will return to the car for FP2 at a circuit which should suit the characteristics of the W13.
De Vries already got a taste for F1 earlier in the year, turning out for Williams in FP1 at the Spanish Grand Prix.
The Dutchman managed to outpace Williams driver Nicholas Latifi in the session.
After his FP1 outing in Spain, he said: “It’s always very interesting to get the opportunity to see inside or behind the scenes of any organisation and particularly a Formula 1 team.
“It’s interesting to learn and see where people are putting their emphasis and how they are building to a weekend and how they are preparing.
“I think as a racing driver, you learn from all different things you do – driving different cars, being part of different teams and organisations and manufacturers.
“Every little piece is ultimately making you a more complete racing driver.”
De Vries, 2019 F2 and 2020-21 Formula E champion, was set to race in F1 this season.
However, the Williams seat was handed to Alex Albon instead.
Merc aren’t the only team fielding a reserve driver for FP1 this weekend.
Alfa Romeo will be putting former F1 race winner Robert Kubica, 37, in ex-Merc driver Valtteri Bottas’ car for opening practice.
This will be the Polish driver’s second FP1 outing of the season following a run at the Spanish Grand Prix in May.
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