Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has revealed the little-known Formula 1 rule that ensured Racing Point was unable to consider Esteban Gutierrez for a race return at the weekend.
Gutierrez is listed as a reserve driver for Mercedes, as well as for Racing Point and McLaren, but at present is unable to drive an F1 car.
Racing Point ultimately turned to Nico Hülkenberg, primarily due to the fact he only drove for Renault at the end of last season, while Gutierrez had not competed in a grand prix weekend since the end of 2017.
But there is an additional reason that has come to light as Wolff disclosed: "Esteban would definitely have been a really strong candidate for the [Racing Point] seat but unfortunately he didn't qualify.
"There is a new rule that if you haven't raced in a Formula 1 car in an official event for three years, you need to have done a 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 a strong record wouldn't qualify for the drive.
"But that was the case with Esteban and then, therefore, the Racing Point option, which wasn't a bad option at all, was Nico Hülkenberg."
Wolff concedes the difficulty for his team is now finding an opportunity for Gutierrez to get behind the wheel and complete the 300km test
"We have to analyse now what it means for us," added Wolff. "It is a shame because giving Esteban a chance is always nice and he has been a strong part of the team and a pillar of the team.
"Obviously, I hope that it is not ever necessary that we need a reserve driver, but if we did we would have given him the chance. It looks like we need to find another solution."
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