Mercedes is working hard to keep its eyes open at junior levels in a bid to identify the next racing star who could emulate Lewis Hamilton in Formula 1, according to team boss Toto Wolff.

Hamilton first enjoyed ties to Mercedes through McLaren when he was starting out in single-seaters, and has won all four of his F1 titles while powered by the German manufacturer en route to establishing himself as one of the sport's all-time greats.

Mercedes has a number of talented junior drivers on its books including Esteban Ocon, George Russell and Pascal Wehrlein, but Wolff confirmed that the team is already working hard to find F1's next superstar.

"We are trying to keep our eyes open to identify the next Lewis Hamilton for in five, six or seven years, when Lewis eventually decides he has had enough of Formula 1," Wolff said.

"We are approaching this with a completely open mindset. We are even looking at karting.

"We are supporting a young Italian boy who is barely 12 years old. We enjoy doing that.

"It is just about identifying the talent, no matter where they are at the moment."

Hamilton's existing Mercedes F1 contract expires at the end of the year, but Wolff believes it is a "no-brainer" that the Briton will extend his deal through to 2019 and beyond.

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i reckon that tomy hilfigers sponsorship deal with Merc , means that lance stroll's name is top of the list...........

Somehow I do not see the Stroll connection being an advantage. Mercedes don't need the money. They do demand the very best driver. If Stroll ends up with Mercedes one day it will be on merit. I would also like to formally announce I am coming out of retirement and will dust off the long-dormant shifter Kart, put on some TH shorts and shirt, and throw my hat in the ring. Is 58 too old?

No 58 is fine.  3 or 4 years ago I watched Dicky Attwood race at the Pau Historique, I think in a 1960,s Formula 2 Cooper or similar. He won by a huge margin against a big field of much younger drivers. He was 80.