Toto Wolff Reveals Reason Behind Mercedes F1’s Reserve Driver Problem

Published 08/04/2020, 6:23 AM EDT


As things stand, Mercedes is without a usable reserve driver for the 2020 F1 season. In the event that Valtteri Bottas or Lewis Hamilton cannot compete in a Grand Prix, the German team may not have a driver to step in temporarily.

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The reason behind this is due to the ambiguity over Esteban Gutierrez’s super license. With Gutierrez last competing in an F1 race well over 3 years ago, the rules mandate a test of at least 300kms in an F1 car, should the Mexican need his super license.

Mercedes officially has two reserve drivers in Gutierrez and Stoffel Vandoorne. But the team cannot use either driver for differing reasons.

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As mentioned earlier, current rules prevent the Mexican from driving for Mercedes unless he completes a test. Vandoorne, on the other hand, is tied up with Formula E over the next few weeks.

Given Mercedes’s meticulous planning and execution in nearly everything they do, this seems like a rare oversight.

But why did the German team ignore such a crucial detail, considering the unpredictability of the current season? Team Principal Toto Wolff explained that Mercedes didn’t anticipate such a scenario, given Gutierrez’s track record in F1.

We didn’t particularly look at it,” said Wolff, as quoted by The Race. “Because we didn’t think that a Formula 1 driver that previously had a strong record wouldn’t qualify for the drive.

“If you haven’t raced in a Formula 1 car in an official event for the last three years, you need to have done a test of at least 300 kilometres.

“But that was the case with Esteban and then therefore Racing Point opted for the other option. That wasn’t a bad option at all, Nico Hulkenberg.

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“We have to analyse now what it means for us. It’s a shame because giving Esteban a chance is always nice.

“And he’s been a strong part of the team and a strong pillar of the team.”

Racing Point’s current predicament with Sergio Perez is a wake-up call for all F1 teams. While unconfirmed, Perez is likely to miss out on this week’s 70th anniversary Grand Prix, following his absence during last week’s British GP.

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A top driver not competing in 2 races could prove to be costly in a compressed Championship season.

SOURCE- The Race

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Abhishek Bharadwaj

720 articles

Abhishek Bharadwaj is an F1 author and content strategist at EssentiallySports. Having joined ES in January 2020, he has over 700 articles to his name. While he was first introduced to the world of F1 in 2006, he started religiously following the sport in 2012 and has had an undying passion for it ever since.

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