Formula One World Champions Mercedes have added a new driver to the junior team in the form of Formula 3 driver Frederik Vesti.
Vesti finished in fourth during the 2020 FIA Formula 3 campaign and impressed for the Prema Racing team. He now moves to ART Grand Prix for the 2021 edition of the Championship, but now with the added backing of Mercedes-Benz AMG Petronas F1 Team.
But how is Vesti joining Mercedes showing their long-term aims?
Mercedes have had a really good junior team over the years with the likes of Pascal Wehrlein, Esteban Ocon and most recently George Russell being apart of it.
However, there are only a few drivers currently in that program, and before Vesti signed, the driver in the highest series was Paul Aron who took part in the 2020 edition of Formula Renault Eurocup.
With George Russell already in Formula One, he is expected to make the step up to Mercedes within the next season or two, but who is next in line?
Currently, that would be Vesti, and with Hamilton and Bottas both coming towards the latter years of their career, it could be just enough time for Vesti to show his worth and potentially get a Mercedes seat in the future.
With the Hamilton contract talks going on longer than Mercedes would like, they may now be starting to think what life might be like after the British driver retires. Russell is the heir to the throne and if Mercedes don’t manage that carefully, some other teams might just offer him a deal that he can’t turn down.
Mercedes really need one more driver in their program that is in either F2 or F3 just to have to bolster their ranks for the long term. However, I think Mercedes are looking to avoid a Ferrari scenario where they have so many drivers in their youth ranks that they can’t all get a seat and potentially damage the reputation of the programme.
Mercedes need to be smart with Vesti. They didn’t exactly treat Ocon fairly and while he did eventually get a seat with Renault, he had to take a season out. Russell is in a similar position where he is too good for that Williams seat, and will soon want to be compensated for that.
I like the way Mercedes are starting to look towards the future. They will need to as Hamilton and Bottas won’t be around forever. Russell is the next big driver for Mercedes, but after that, they don’t have anyone that looks like an obvious choice. Time will tell if Vesti is the next big thing after Russell, a dominant year in F3 might help him towards that acclaim.