Formula 1 Racing

Mercedes open to “bold” replacement for Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton, Toto Wolff, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2023

Mercedes are open to considering a “bold” replacement for Lewis Hamilton which could even include a driver who hasn’t made his Formula 2 debut yet.

Hamilton’s shock decision to join Ferrari in 2025 leaves Mercedes with a vacancy alongside George Russell in its driver line-up.

Speaking to media including RaceFans for the first time after confirming Hamilton’s impending departure, team principal Toto Wolff said the news hands Russell a chance to establish himself as their new leading driver.

“We have two excellent drivers,” he said. “We have Lewis in his final year at Mercedes and George eager to go back in the car and perform.

Report: How Hamilton told Mercedes he was leaving and why Wolff holds “no grudge”

“We need to put a car on the track that has more pace than last year’s car and we know how difficult it will be to compete not only with Red Bull, but also with the other ones.

“Also, of course, in all the Lewis discussions something that has not been talked enough is George. George has the potential to be the next lead driver in the team. He is of the generation of Lando “Norris” and [Charles] Leclerc and some of the others and I couldn’t wish for a new team leader when Lewis leaves. No doubt about that.

“So we have such a solid foundation, such a quick and talented and intelligent guy in the car that we just need to take the right choice for the second driver, the second seat. And that’s not something I want to be rushed in.”

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Wolff indicated some drivers who recently extended contracts to drive for other teams would have been of interest to Mercedes had they been available. McLaren’s Norris and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc have signed new deals with their respective teams since the new year.

Andrea Kimi Antonelli, 2022
Antonelli will make his F2 debut this year

“I guess that a few contracts have been signed a few weeks ago that we would have looked at that could have been interesting, but the timing here bit us a bit,” said Wolff. “But in a way I always like change because change provides you with opportunity.”

He likened the situation to Nico Rosberg’s shock departure from the team after he won the title for them in 2016. That led Mercedes to extract Valtteri Bottas from his Williams contract to fill their unexpected vacancy.

“In the same way we’ve embraced the Nico situation, and that was equally from one moment to the other unexpected, I’m really looking forward to taking the…

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