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Mercedes had Ocon on standby to replace unwell Hamilton

Mercedes had Ocon on standby to replace unwell Hamilton
By Reuters

27/07/2019 at 17:42Updated 27/07/2019 at 17:53

Lewis Hamilton went from poorly to pole at the German Grand Prix on Saturday, revealing afterwards that Mercedes had put French reserve Esteban Ocon on standby to replace him in case he felt too unwell to drive.

The Briton, on his way to a sixth Formula One title having won seven of the season’s 10 races, said he had been nursing a sore throat.

"I wasn’t feeling good this morning," he told reporters immediately after qualifying.

"A bit of a sore throat; we just prepped in case I wasn’t going to be able to do the session.

"I did the practice and we were prepared to be able to put the second driver in, worst-case scenario. I got through it good."

Mercedes have Ocon, who lost his seat at Force India/Racing Point at the end of last season, as their stand-in.

Esteban Ocon (Mercedes) - GP of Spain 2019

Esteban Ocon (Mercedes) - GP of Spain 2019Getty Images

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has said he expects Ocon to be back in a Formula One race seat next year and are evaluating all options to help that to happen.

Had Ocon stepped in for Hamilton in qualifying, the championship leader would also have been forced to sit out Sunday’s race.

The champion, who won from 14th in the rain last year, said forecast bad weather would be the biggest threat on Sunday and that he hoped for cool conditions.

"I think the real challenge is just making sure we do all our due diligence and make sure we operate at the level we’ve been operating at today," he said.