Lewis Hamilton sent shockwaves throughout the F1 world as he confirmed his departure from Mercedes after 11 years of association with the team. In his absence, one of the two seats at the Brackley-based team stands empty from the 2025 season onwards, and Toto Wolff needs to come up with a viable replacement. Things, however, are not as tricky for him as they were back when Nico Rosberg suddenly retired from F1, as the Mercedes boss has a whole year to finalize a replacement driver.
With George Russell all but certain to be the new ‘leader’ at Mercedes, there is no shortage of prospects for Wolff to look at.
The Thai driver whom James Vowles labeled the ‘backbone’ of the Williams team delivered an impressive season in 2023 and would be looking for a much more competitive team in the coming seasons.
Loading embed tweet https://twitter.com/alex_albon/status/1753813919196418480?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
There were rumors of Alex Albon going back to the Red Bull team on a three-year contract, but that might be a surprising development, given the way they treated him last time. With lineups almost secured at all the other top teams on the grid, Mercedes and Albon might stand to benefit a lot if they decide to join forces once Lewis Hamilton steps away.
Closing in on 43, Fernando Alonso is at a crucial stage of his career, nearing the inevitable end of his racing days in F1. Standing at the center of Lawrence Stroll’s Aston Martin project, the Spanish driver secured multiple podium finishes in 2023.
However, it is a race win that his heart desires most, and with a completely new car, Mercedes might be able to hand Alonso a long-awaited win no. 33 (should he fail to win a race in 2024).
Loading embed tweet https://twitter.com/leclercsletters/status/1753118759710003447?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
However, Alonso might not be too comfortable with the ‘second driver’ tag in any team, and that might pose a problem for the Silver Arrows. With Aston Martin extremely happy with the #14 driver’s inputs, it would be interesting to see how far each team would be willing to go to secure his services should Mercedes decide to pursue Alonso.
Andrea Kimi Antonelli
Mercedes might perhaps be looking to invest in the future, and should that be the case, there may not be a better option than Andrea Kimi Antonelli. A part of the Mercedes Junior Team since 2019, the 17-year-old Italian has garnered a lot of attention from Toto Wolff through his driving skills.
Having won the Formula Regional Middle East and European championships in 2023, Antonelli will be driving for PREMA Racing in the Formula 2 series in 2024. Although, Antonelli will have to prove his talent in a hyper-competitive F2 field. Still, there is a question mark of whether Mercedes will trust him enough to hand a F1 debut at 18?
Loading embed tweet https://twitter.com/sportbible/status/1754076068581892214?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
Standing as the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race in 2023, Carlos Sainz has no shortage of skills on offer. With Ferrari ditching him in favor of Lewis Hamilton, the Spaniard could make for an ideal replacement, completing the perfect swap.
It would also give him a chance to prove his mettle once more after an unfortunate treatment by Ferrari. However, his linkage with teams like Audi might prove to be a hindrance in the move.
Thread of Carlos Sainz being a team player in Ferrari pic.twitter.com/G7QEJz6IPV
— ana (@sextappen) February 3, 2024
Michael Schumacher’s son and Mercedes reserve driver, Mick Schumacher, is another prospect to take up the vacant spot. Despite him being a part of Alpine’s WEC driver lineup, a driving role in F1 is still possible for the German driver. Even his uncle and F1 expert Ralf Schumacher believes it would be a good idea to have Mick Schumacher driving alongside Russell.
Loading embed tweet https://twitter.com/iLWYMMD/status/1753068914295406937?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
The 24-year-old spent two seasons at Haas as one of their drivers, but it was nothing to write home about. His debut season saw him finish 19th in the drivers’ standings, where he failed to secure a single point all season. The following season was slightly better for him, as he finished the season in P16 with 12 points.