Lewis Hamilton expressed sympathy on Thursday for rookie Nyck de Vries, sacked by Alpha Tauri after only 10 races, and said it demonstrated the way in which Red Bull, not Formula One as a whole, operated.
Mercedes’ seven-time world champion was asked if the abrupt dismissal of the 28-year-old Dutchman after finishing last for struggling Alpha Tauri at the British Grand Prix was a reminder of F1’s ruthlessness.
In reply, he said: “I would say it’s how Red Bull work.”
Alpha Tauri is the junior sister team in the Red Bull stable and they promptly offered De Vries’ seat to Red Bull’s Australian reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo, who will race for them for the remainder of this season.
De Vries was previously a reserve driver at Mercedes.
Hamilton said he was not surprised to see Ricciardo return to the grid.
“Not really, because he has been in every drivers’ briefing this year! He’s been in the drivers’ briefings but not actually competing.
“That’s very rare. You don’t often see the reserve driver in the drivers’ briefings, but I’m not surprised to see him back.
“I was definitely surprised to see the decision they took with poor Nyck. He’s such a talented young man and such a nice guy as well.
“So I think his future is still bright for him and he’ll have lots of great options, I’m sure.”
Asked if being given only half a season – ten races – to prove himself was unfair, Hamilton said: “Yep.”
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was another leading driver saddened by the abrupt decision.
“I think it’s obviously very difficult for Nyck,” he said. “I sent him a text yesterday because I’m sure that it’s a difficult one to take.
“I’m sad. I think it’s too harsh for Nyck, but obviously also happy to see Daniel back in the paddock. It’s part of F1 but it’s true that it’s very harsh for Nyck.”
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