Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff has confirmed he will continue to support Nyck de Vries despite insisting his axing from AlphaTauri was "not our problem".
De Vries made the switch from Mercedes reserve driver to AlphaTauri to replace Pierre Gasly following the Frenchman's move to Alpine.
The Dutchman arrived highly regarded given his impressive debut for Williams at last year's Italian Grand Prix, as well as his esteemed F2, Formula E and endurance racing exploits.
But Red Bull pulled the trigger to relieve de Vries of his F1 drive after only 10 races this season, with Daniel Ricciardo returning to the grid in his place.
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Feel sorry for him
"I am a fan of Nyck because he is enormously intelligent and has always contributed a lot to the development of our car," Wolff told Sky Sports.
"Maybe he needed more time. I believe if they had given him the season, he might have been a good candidate for the second Red Bull seat.
"But that's not our problem.
"I do feel sorry for him, though. He called me Monday morning to ask if I had time for coffee. I did. On our team, all positions have been filled, but we will continue to support him where we can."
Suggesting there was an ulterior motive in dropping de Vries, Wolff added: "I think Red Bull wants to chart how fast Ricciardo is, to see if he can possibly take over Checo's seat.
"Formula 1 is enormously hard and once a decision is made, there is no turning back,"