Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has revealed that Sir Lewis Hamilton was helping Nyck de Vries during the Dutchman’s outing at the French Grand Prix last weekend.
As part of the new rules this season, all teams are required to run a development driver during practice on at least two occasions over the course of the season, and Mercedes fulfilled their first by putting de Vries in the car in Hamilton’s stead at Paul Ricard.
De Vries had also been in the Williams in Spain earlier in the season, and he put on an impressive showing in Le Castellet, finishing P9, just five tenths behind fourth-placed George Russell.
It was a break for the 27-year-old from his Formula E duties with the Mercedes EQ team having won just twice in Diriyah and Berlin this season, with those two results also constituting his only two podiums.
He is currently eighth in the Drivers’ Standings, 72 points adrift of team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne in what is proving a tough title defence littered with misfortune.
The electric side will give up its place to McLaren next season, and there is no guarantee of the British side taking him on given the copious alternative options they already have in their programme.
However, if that opportunity were to present itself to the Dutchman, and Mercedes had nothing else for him, Wolff would be willing to let him leave.
“If we are not able to provide him with an interesting Formula 1 project, in a way we need to let him go,” he told Sky Sports.
“He is looking at various options, sportscars and maybe Formula E, but you must never give up on the opportunity that one day your Formula 1 door could open and today was very, very good.”
The Austrian warned that he cannot try and convince any team in any series to take on his driver, as this can actually do more harm than good.
“We can’t really tell any team to look at him and consider him because that would be felt as an interference and that goes the contrary way,” explained Wolff.
During the practice session, Wolff revealed that Hamilton was giving de Vries some useful pointers as he settled into the W13.
“I was a bit confused when I came in and he (Hamilton) was sitting in my seat and I was like ‘why are you not in the car?’,” quipped Wolff.
“I think it was interesting because he was coaching Nyck, helping him with the overlays, and that was quite interesting to see.”
Hamilton went on to take second in the race ahead George Russell after both drivers cleared the Red Bull of Sergio Perez.
Max Verstappen won the race following Charles Leclerc’s crash, while Carlos Sainz recovered from 19th on the grid to fifth.