Mercedes have two options to replace Lewis Hamilton if he is banned for Monaco Grand Prix

Max Verstappen makes subtle dig at Lewis Hamilton

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Mercedes will be left with two clear options should seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton be sensationally banned from competing ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix. Hamilton called on the FIA to relax their strict rulings against drivers wearing body piercings and neck chains while competing at the race in Florida last weekend.

It lead to an almighty storm, with the Brit donning eight rings, three watches, four necklaces and two earrings as he proved a point during his press conference. Hamilton claimed it felt like a ‘step backwards’ for the sport, adding: “It seems unnecessary to get into this. I am here to be an ally of the sport – we have bigger fish to fry.”

Hamilton claimed he is unable to remove his earrings and nose ring, which he wears in the car while racing. Sky Sports reporter Ted Kravitz revealed on his Notebook show that Hamilton could suffer the consequences of pushing back against such rulings.

“He’s taken his earrings out but he can’t take out his nose [stud] and we thought he was going to have minor surgery to take out the nose [stud],” Kravitz explained. “Hamilton’s now saying, having been given two races’ grace, here (Miami) and in Barcelona, that he will not take out his nose [stud].

“So there is a little storm brewing. Hamilton has said they can fine me whatever they want, but it’s not as simple as that. If the FIA decide to not scrutineer the driver, which it looks like they can do, they can stop Lewis from going out of the pit lane at the beginning of Friday practice because he has not been scrutineered – the driver is now effectively scrutineered in the same way as a car is.

“So this could get very nasty quite quickly in a race-and-a-half’s time.”

If the FIA decide to press ahead and suspend Hamilton, Mercedes will have two primary options – the first being the more experienced Stoffel Vandoorne. He has been an official reserve driver for Mercedes since 2020 and competed for McLaren in Formula 1 between 2016 and 2018.

He is currently racing in Formula E for Mercedes where he leads the championship, and Vandoorne even took the chequered flag at the Monaco E-Prix last time out. His teammate, Nyck de Vries, is the other option for Toto Wolff. 

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The Dutchman is the reigning Formula E champion and he claimed the Formula 2 crown in 2019. De Vries would be the expected pick to come in and replace Hamilton should he be banned, but Vandoorne’s experience could be preferred.

However, Mercedes ultimately do not want Hamilton to suffer a ban. The 37-year-old is set to hold talks with FIA president Mohammed bin Sulayem to avoid a public dispute as best as possible. 

The 22-race F1 2022 campaign – which is expected to return to a record 23 races in the near future once a Russian Grand Prix replacement is found – continues with the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona on May 22.

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