Mercedes to run 21-year-old instead of George Russell at Mexican GP

George Russell will be sidelined at the 2023 Mexican GP, as Mercedes make room for another driver.

It’s been reported that Formula 2 driver Frederik Vesti is set to drive for Mercedes at the Mexican Grand Prix later in the season, in Free Practice 1.

As part of the current regulations, every team must field a young driver in two FP1 sessions, something the Silver Arrows are yet to do.

Vesti is set to replace George Russell for the session towards the end of the season, with the news having been reported by Danish outlet TV2.

The young Dane is part of the Mercedes Junior programme and is currently second in the F2 Drivers’ Championship.

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His title hopes took a huge dent last weekend at Spa-Francorchamps though, as he spun and retired from Sunday’s feature race before it even started.

Vesti spun on his way to the grid and caused substantial damage to his Prema, forcing him to retire.

It certainly wasn’t an ideal moment for the 21-year-old, who’ll certainly be wanting to avoid any incidents in Mexico City.

He’s certainly delighted to have been handed the opportunity by Mercedes to drive the W14, with him admitting that it’s “absolutely crazy” that he’ll complete an F1 session alongside Lewis Hamilton.

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“The feeling that I have to drive an official Formula 1 practice session with Lewis Hamilton next to me is absolutely crazy,” Vesti told Viaplay. “And that’s all I’ve dreamed of – ever.”

As Russell will sit out the session, it can only be assumed that Hamilton will be replaced when Mercedes field a young driver in a second FP1 session, so that both drivers get equal running time.

Whilst missing the opening session in Mexico isn’t ideal for Russell, it will at least be a normal weekend.

The Mexican GP is not a sprint weekend and will instead use the traditional format, meaning Russell will still have FP2 and FP3 to catch up on what he missed in FP1.

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Mercedes actually showed strong pace in Mexico City last season, something they’ll be keen to repeat later in the year.

There was little for the Germans to celebrate last weekend at the Belgian Grand Prix with the side having failed to claim a podium.

Hamilton finished fourth whilst Russell salvaged sixth, with a rostrum having never been on the cards.