Lewis Hamilton offers Mercedes seat to another driver as Brit put off by Canadian GP chaos | F1 | Sport

Lewis Hamilton jokingly offered his Mercedes seat to test and reserve driver Frederik Vesti after the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was hit with intense hailstones and flash flooding ahead of FP1 for the Canadian Grand Prix.

The Danish driver is the Formula Two vice-champion and will complete at least two FP1 sessions in place of Hamilton and team-mate George Russell this year, but Vesti was not scheduled to be in the cockpit on Friday.

Poor weather was expected for the return to Montreal, but few were expecting a downpour as extreme as the one experienced by the paddock. The rain-induced chaos rivalled the biblical scenes experienced in Sao Paulo last season.

Vesti had previously been linked with a full-time F1 drive with Williams, but the Grove-based outfit instead opted to hand Logan Sargeant a second season in which he could impress. Instead, the 22-year-old is racing in the European Le Mans Series.

Despite his setback in 2023, Vesti still believes in his F1 dream. “My focus is F1,” Vesti told Formula Scout. “That’s very clear also with Mercedes as a reserve driver this year.

“But to be standing completely still and not actually driving, I was a bit afraid to do that. And I really wanted to continue learning and building, adding bricks to the foundation I’ve already created.”

While Vesti will have to watch from the sidelines in Montreal this weekend, Hamilton is excited to get on track. The seven-time world champion endured a miserable outing in Monaco but thinks his team can bounce back at the site of his first-ever F1 win.

“I don’t think it’s far away,” he said when asked if Mercedes could get a podium this weekend. “We’ve got the upgrade… both of the cars have the upgrade this weekend so I’m looking forward to seeing how that feels actually on track.”

Even if Hamilton could go against the odds and secure a top-three finish, it would be simply the first step on the road to recovery for Mercedes.

The eight-time world champions have accumulated just 96 points from the opening eight races, leaving them in a different league to the top three teams.

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