Unexpected one-year “stopgap” replacement for Lewis Hamilton suggested

“Mercedes will be looking for a one-year stopgap, in my book"

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 in the post Sprint FIA Press Conference.- www.xpbimages.com, EMail:
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 in the post Sprint FIA Press…

Valtteri Bottas has been named as an ideal temporary solution to replace Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes are seeking a new driver to sit alongside George Russell in 2025 when Hamilton goes to Ferrari.

And their search could take them to Bottas, who was Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate for five seasons, it has been claimed.

Max Verstappen is their No1 dream option but their junior driver, Andrea Kimi Antonelli, is also a very real possibility.

“Toto wants Antonelli at Mercedes long-term,” FIA press conference host Tom Clarkson said on the F1 Nation podcast.

“It’s just a question of: is he going to be ready in 2025 or does he get given to another team to learn the ropes, then comes back to Mercedes in a few years?”

Mercedes could opt to throw the 17-year-old prodigy into their car immediately.

But, if they decide he needs more time before graduating from Formula 2, then they would need another solution for 2025.

“Mercedes will be looking for a one-year stopgap, in my book,” Clarkson said.

“That doesn’t appeal to Carlos Sainz who will want a longer-term contract.

“I wonder whether Bottas could be that stopgap for Mercedes in 2025.

“He knows the team very well. He has won 10 races.

“It will be a much better option for him than anything else that’s on the contract.

“If Bottas goes to Mercedes, then Sainz’s options become Red Bull or Audi.

“I think he will look longer-term and think ‘Audi is a better long-term bet than Red Bull because of all the changes and the commitment of Audi, and the question marks around Red Bull Powertrains’.”

Bottas knows that he has only a 50-50 chance of retaining his Sauber drive for 2025, because Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg has already been confirmed.

Either Bottas or Guanyu Zhou - and perhaps both - may need to survey their options to stay in Formula 1 next season.

Haas now have a vacancy but will reportedly prioritise Ollie Bearman.

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