Mercedes reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez unable to race if needed

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Toto Wolff says Mercedes will have to look for another solution if Lewis Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas need a replacement during the 2020 season.

While Mercedes reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne is often absent from F1 races due to his Formula E commitments, the other reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez unfortunately isn’t able to step into an Formula 1 car immediately, due to a regulation change.

The problem came out when Racing Point needed a replacement for Sergio Perez (who tested positive for COVID-19) at the British Grand Prix. Mercedes allows their customer teams to use their reserve drivers, however the only one available wasn’t allowed to race.

“I think Esteban would have been in a really strong candidate for the seat, but unfortunately he didn’t qualify,” said Wolff.

“There is a new rule this year that if you haven’t raced in a Formula 1 car in an official event for the last three years you need to have done the test of at least 300 kilometres.

“That is a new rule that came into effect this year, which we didn’t particularly look at because we didn’t think that a Formula 1 driver that previously had strong records wouldn’t qualify for the drive.

“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, for Nico Hülkenberg.

“So we have to analyse now what it means for us. It’s a shame because giving Esteban a chance is always nice. He’s been a strong part of the team and a strong pillar of the team.

“Obviously I don’t hope that it’s ever necessary that we need a reserve driver, if we would have given him the chance.

“But as it looks, we need to come up with another solution.”

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