Mercedes announce Lewis Hamilton replacement for 2023 Abu Dhabi GP

Mercedes have announced Lewis Hamilton's replacement for the upcoming 2023 Abu Dhabi GP.

Ahead of this weekend’s season finale in Abu Dhabi, Mercedes have confirmed that Lewis Hamilton will be replaced in Free Practice 1.

To complete the mandatory two rookie FP1 sessions, the Silver Arrows will field Formula 2 star Frederik Vesti.

Vesti recently replaced George Russell in FP1 at the Mexican Grand Prix, with it now being Hamilton’s turn to sit on the bench.

The Danish F2 driver is part of the Mercedes Junior Team and is currently racing for PREMA Racing.

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Interestingly, Mercedes have opted to give Vesti the FP1 session at the Yas Marina Circuit despite the fact he’s still in the F2 title fight.

The F2 season finale will take place this weekend in Abu Dhabi, with Vesti currently sitting in P2 and 25 points behind Theo Pourchaire.

Vesti has won five times in 2023, in what is his second season in F2.

His most recent victory came in the Monza Sprint race, although he retired in the race before and after his win.

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Mercedes clearly view the 21-year-old incredibly highly and perhaps see him as a possible replacement for Hamilton when he retires, although the earliest that’ll be is for the 2026 season.

The young Dane is “extremely excited” to be driving the W14 again this weekend, whilst he’ll also be used by Mercedes in the post-season test, which will also take place in Abu Dhabi.

“Driving in FP1 in Abu Dhabi is another step in my career. Getting my first experience of an official session on an F1 weekend in Mexico was a big moment,” said Vesti.

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“I learnt so much, and it was great being able to support the team and work with Lewis and George. I’m looking forward to building on that experience at Yas Marina.

“It’s a track I know well and that will no doubt make it easier to get up to speed in the one hour of practice.

“I’m extremely excited to get back behind-the-wheel of the W14 for FP1 and then the post-season test. Once again, I want to say a big thank you to the team for giving me this opportunity.”