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Mercedes have confirmed that Lewis Hamilton will not take to the track for Free Practice 1 in Abu Dhabi, as the Silver Arrows’ development driver Frederik Vesti instead will be in the cockpit. In the final race of the season, Mercedes have been forced into sitting Hamilton out in the United Arab Emirates to benefit one of the younger drivers.
As part of Formula 1’s young driver programme, each team must field a driver with less than two Grand Prix races twice a season and Vesti has been given his chance after Hamilton’s fate was confirmed at the Las Vegas GP last time out.
The Brit will finish third in the Drivers’ Championship behind Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, before handing the reigns to his W14 over to Vesti at the Yas Marina Circuit on Friday.
The 21-year-old Dane also competed at last year’s Abu Dhabi GP and was in action a few weeks ago, taking over for George Russell at the Mexico City GP.
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“Driving in FP1 in Abu Dhabi is another step in my career,” Vesti said. “Getting my first experience of an official session on an F1 weekend in Mexico was a big moment. 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.
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“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.”
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Vesti is currently second in the F2 Championship and still in contention for the title with one round to go, will combine his duties with replacing Hamilton in FP1.
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes trackside engineering director, added: “Fred acquitted himself well during his first FP1 session in Mexico City, running through the programme smoothly and helping us begin the weekend in a positive manner.
“We look forward to having him back in the car for Abu Dhabi. It will be a busy weekend for Fred, given his F2 commitments. He has shown he has the maturity and confidence to handle this though, and I am sure he will get the most out of it across the weekend.”
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