Intriguing one-year stopgap idea to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes suggested

Before Kimi Antonelli is ready in 2026, Mercedes have been told to target an F1 driver on a one-year contract

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia,
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2,…

Esteban Ocon can have a role in Mercedes' plan to replace Lewis Hamilton, it has been claimed.

Alpine driver Ocon is a former Mercedes reserve driver and retains links to Toto Wolff's team.

Wolff must make the huge decision of how to replace Ferrari-bound Hamilton in 2025.

Fernando Alonso and teenager Andrea Kimi Antonelli represent serious options at opposite ends of the age scale.

L'Equipe's Fred Ferret made his prediction on the F1 Nation podcast: "Ocon or Alonso!

"Because [Ocon] is part of Mercedes' management so he can accept signing for just one year.

"Then, in '26, you can put Antonelli in after he has learned at Williams, or wherever."

Natalie Pinkham thinks that Wolff's decision may be influenced by the form and leadership qualities shown by George Russell over the next few months.

"It depends on how Russell performs this year," she said.

"If Russell develops into the natural team leader, then they will be happy to bring in a young and inexperienced driver under him, like Antonelli.

"If Russell falters - like we saw in Singapore - and if little mistakes creep in - which I don't think they will, but if they do - then they will be more inclined to go for Fernando, potentially.

"I'd love to see Max Verstappen there!"

The intriguing name which has routinely cropped up is Antonelli, the Mercedes junior who is currently in his rookie F2 campaign.

The hype around his potential has led Wolff to publically name him as a star of the future.

But Ferret claimed: "Whatever happens next year, I wouldn't bet on Antonelli to Mercedes for '25.

"Like for Ollie Bearman, it's better for a youngster to learn away from the pressure. Even if Antonelli is the next messiah.

"We only have one Alonso, one Hamilton, one Verstappen every 10 or 15 years. Don't put pressure on these guys for that.

"Even Max learned in a small team.

"I would bet on one last year for Alonso, or one year for Esteban then see what happens."

The dreadful start that Alpine have made in the F1 2024 season means they will lose both Ocon and his teammate Pierre Gasly, Ferret believes.

"Two months ago, I would have said no," he said.

"We know that next year's cars will be the same as this year's so we know who will finish first and last.

"All these people are leaving Alpine but you can't see the team be back on track, in a nice position, before 2026 at [the earliest]."

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