Mercedes hint at latest strategy to pick Lewis Hamilton’s replacement

“I’m prepared to compromise in certain decisions"

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7, Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola, Italy, Race
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7,…

Toto Wolff has shared his strategy on how Mercedes will select Lewis Hamilton’s replacement.

Hamilton will go to Ferrari in 2025 meaning Wolff must make the colossal call of how to replace a seven-time F1 champion.

The decision is also holding up the entire 2025 F1 driver line-up, with market decisions pending while arguably the most coveted seat is decided.

Carlos Sainz, who is a free agent because Hamilton will take his Ferrari drive next year, is an obvious candidate.

But Mercedes have opted not to snap him up, even if that risks Sainz going elsewhere, because they want to bide their time. Audi (Sauber until 2026) are an option on the table for Sainz.

“I think Carlos has his place in Formula 1,” Wolff said after the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.

“He is a Ferrari race winner in the last two years, and someone with huge experience.

“I’m prepared to compromise in certain decisions, and to wait how the situation ends up over the summer and into autumn.

“In George Russell we have a great driver that is with us, and is fantastic.

“And then let’s see who is going to be his teammate. But we don’t need to take this decision now.”

Mercedes’ choice to delay committing to a certain driver could be because they are waiting for Max Verstappen to clarify whether there is any unrest at Red Bull that could cause him to seek an exit.

But the likelihood of Verstappen leaving Red Bull, where he is on course for a fourth F1 title this season, in 2025 seems remote at this stage.

Andrea Kimi Antonelli has the backing of Hamilton to be Mercedes’ new driver.

The teenager is driving in Formula 2 this year, but has been thrust into several tests of Mercedes F1 cars to assess his speed.

Wolff said about Antonelli: “We are hyping that young man for a long time now.

“He will be very good and a great driver one day in F1, but he’s 17.

“Fourteen months ago he drove an F4 car.

“And there’s so much expectation in Italy. We are a little bit guilty also of that.

“I think we should let him do his F2 thing, and deliver results, and not be too carried away with what could be or should be.

“Look at George - he won F2 in his rookie year. At the same time, Kimi has delivered in those junior series and is in F2 now so we’ll see.

“He’s going to be in F1 one day. But let’s not rush it.”

Should Mercedes wait too long to acquire Sainz, be unable to extract Verstappen from Red Bull, then decide that Antonelli will not be ready for F1 in 2025, it leaves them with a headache.

They could, at that stage, opt for a stop-gap solution for a year.

Several drivers on the F1 grid have an expiring contract this season and could be attainable including Esteban Ocon, the Mercedes junior driver now with Alpine, or Valtteri Bottas, who teamed with Hamilton previously under Wolff’s leadership.

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