Mercedes reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne has revealed the decision to overlook him as Lewis Hamilton's replacement for this weekend's Sakhir Grand Prix "hurts" given his commitment to the team all season.
Hamilton sits out the race at Bahrain International Circuit's Outer Track after testing positive for Covid-19 less than 24 hours after his victory last weekend, and is to be replaced by Williams' George Russell.
Although Vandoorne is contracted to Mercedes as the reserve driver and is scheduled to be at the circuit this weekend after completing pre-season testing for the manufacturer's Formula E marque in Valencia over the past week, Russell was the preferred option to make the step up.
Whilst the Belgian revealed he understood the reasons for promoting Russell for the weekend, he spoke of the pain of missing out after giving his all to the team in his role throughout a difficult 2020 season.
In a message to his followers on Instagram, Vandoorne said: "Hi Guys, thought you’d want an update after the news [the] last few days. ⠀
"Firstly, I want to wish Lewis Hamilton a speedy recovery and hopefully, he’ll be back in the car asap! Nobody can really replace him!⠀
"Obviously, I’m disappointed not to get the chance to drive for Mercedes this weekend. After having spent the year travelling to all F1 races and dedicating so much time, physical training, commitment to this programme... it hurts! ⠀
"On the other hand, I respect the choice of putting George Russell in the car. He has been one of the standout drivers and he fully deserves this opportunity. ⠀
"It’s moments like these that make my drive even bigger and I can assure you I’m going to continue giving 100%! ⠀
"Thank you so much, everyone, for all your supportive messages! It’s been great to see. See you at the track in Bahrain!"
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