Lewis Hamilton, now 38, is expected to sign a new Mercedes contract taking him up until the end of 2025 but eventually the huge decision will be made to replace him.

Leclerc, now with Ferrari, is a leading candidate and an ex-team manager for the iconic Italian F1 team thinks they could then target McLaren’s Norris.

Will Lando Norris be F1 world champion with McLaren?

“I would imagine [Toto Wolff] is going to try and go for Leclerc,” Peter Windsor said.

“It would be a mess, probably, putting Leclerc with George Russell. But if he’s prepared to put Russell with Hamilton, he’s obviously going to be prepared to put him with Leclerc.

“Let’s assume Leclerc went from Ferrari to Mercedes to replace Lewis, which is not a completely stupid assumption, what then would Ferrari do? I think they would go massively all out to get Lando.

“And I think Lando, at that point, would find it quite hard to say no, putting aside all the contractual stuff - because I do think that at that level, they can afford to [solve contractual problems].

“I think Lando has got half a chance at Ferrari, if Leclerc goes somewhere to replace Lewis – which would be good, wouldn’t it?

“Lando will be thinking about what’s going to happen next. And the heads up that Lando needs is from Lewis, isn’t it? 

“He needs Lewis to say: ‘This is the date [I will retire] and then Lando can get to work on what he’s going to do.”

The F1 2023 driver line-up sees Norris paired with Oscar Piastri, a rookie replacing the veteran driver Daniel Ricciardo who underperformed last season.

Windsor questioned: “Would [McLaren CEO Zak Brown] stand in [Norris’] way? Lando would probably say to Zak: ‘Everything has been great, we had Daniel, everything was fine, and then you put Piastri in the car and it’s a mess now. I didn’t want it, you’ve done it, I’m out of here!’ 

“That’s probably what he would say.”

A potential opportunity to partner Max Verstappen at Red Bull may also open up in the future, if Sergio Perez’s career ends.

“From Lando’s point of view, it’s getting to be quite a difficult situation because if there is a Ferrari drive there, that Ferrari drive will be a lot more attractive, for example, than running alongside Max at Red Bull if Perez retired,” Windsor said.

“If you are Lando, if you are going anywhere you go to either Ferrari or Mercedes. 

“You wouldn’t go alongside Max, even though he might get an offer to do that. So Ferrari for Lando would be mega, wouldn’t it? 

“I imagine Pierre Gasly is also thinking that way. He’s thinking: ‘There could be a chance at Ferrari and I want to be in that position to get that.’ 

“Those are the two, I think.”