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The bombshell news that Lewis Hamilton has test positive for COVID-19 left Mercedes with a huge decision to make. The opportunity of a lifetime has come up for a driver to get behind the wheel of the fasted Formula 1 car to have ever been built.

Stoffel Vandoorne is one of Mercedes reserve and test drivers. Out of the two reserve and test drivers that Mercedes has, Vandoorne has the most recent Formula 1 experience racing for McLaren up to the end of 2018. He currently represents Mercedes in Formula E team, where he is currently testing with them in Valencia.

Nico Hulkenberg was definitely considered as a contender given his role as Formula 1 unofficial super-sub in 2020. He’s filled in for the two other drivers to have tested positive for COVID-19, and has made three appearances for racing point in place of Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll. You could say that means he’s already got three weekends in a Mercedes, and Hulkenberg finished in the top 10 in both races he started for Racing Point. All in all, he is familiar with the complicated systems the driver needs to operate.

George Russell has the most experience with 2020 machinery, and has been announced as the replacement driver. He’s a part of the Mercedes young driver program, and he was the natural candidate for the seat. Russell has yet to score a point in Formula 1, but he has already been held by Hamilton as potential World Champion. Mercedes drafting Russel for the race weekend was be reliant on clauses within his contract or he’d have too gain permission from Williams. Russell getting the call gives him a golden opportunity to prove his credentials as a future star.

Photo credit: Leanne Boon / Octane Photograhpic