Lewis Hamilton

F1 News: The likely Candidates to Replace Hamilton at Mercedes

The F1 world sank into disarray as the implications of Lewis Hamilton’s historic transfer to Ferrari for 2025 became clear.

–by Mark Cipolloni–

Hamilton, who has 103 victories and a huge fan following, will drive in red for 2025, and Carlos Sainz Jr. has also been informed that he will not be, as the whole Formula One grid has been alerted how one of the most prominent positions in the sport has suddenly become vacant.

Despite a less-than-stellar performance over the last two years, there isn’t a single F1 driver that would say no to a seat with the most successful and recognized team in modern F1. Besides the fact that most Formula One drivers would be thrilled to take Lewis Hamilton’s position in 2025, let’s take a deeper dive into the most probable drivers that may be considered for the role.

Fernando Alonso

Toto Wolff should go no further than Alonso if Mercedes is seeking a driver who can compete with Hamilton, has a globally recognized name, and has two world championship medals.

All signs pointed to Alonso’s continued speed and talent last season, as he finished on the podium three times for Aston Martin, dispelling any questions about whether he could challenge for victories and titles if given the chance.

Flavio Briatore, Fernando Alonso’s manager, was recently seen enjoying breakfast with Wolff, and the F1 fan base has since erupted with speculation. Enthusiasts quickly formed connections on social media, speculating that Alonso would shortly replace Hamilton at Mercedes.

Carlos Sainz Jr. 

In the end, it’s Carlos Sainz Jr. who loses out; he’ll be unemployed by the end of 2024 and getting ready to leave Ferrari. We had high hopes for his tenure at Ferrari, but it never materialized. Despite being the sole non-Red Bull race winner in 2022, his dismal performance of two victories from three seasons will surely be remembered.

But he was never outpaced by his dynamite teammate Charles Leclerc, who was widely considered among the grid’s quickest drivers. Do not expect Sainz to become a middle-of-the-pack driver or sail off into the sunset; underestimating his potential would be a grave mistake.

If Mercedes wants to field the best possible driver partnership for 2025, it should think about doing a direct swap in the Hamilton deal. With his future departure from Ferrari guaranteed, he’ll be the most prominent Formula One free agent and pairing Sainz with George Russell is, perhaps, the finest option available.

When looking at Mercedes’s candidates from a betting perspective, Sainz is the most probable at this time. I’d expect the top Irish betting sites available for punters to label him as the betting favorite.

Kimi Antonelli: The Future of Mercedes? 

The “best driver in a Formula Three car since Max Verstappen” is the description given to Kimi Antonelli, a young driver employed by Mercedes. The 17-year-old will compete for Prema Racing in Formula 2 after proving to be a dominant force on the grid, thus skipping Formula 3 altogether.

Despite the speculation on his bright future, we must face facts: Antonelli is barely out of karts, and as Wolff recently stated, he should focus on F2 and build himself before even contemplating the big stage. It’s highly unlikely that the youngster is a candidate for Hamilton’s place, but don’t be surprised if he isn’t a mainstay in F1 between 2026-2030.

Alex Albon

A driver who will be under intense scrutiny from all the leading teams is Alex Albon. Although he is now under contract with Williams until 2025, would Mercedes attempt to get him regardless?

If the decision is entrusted to Albon, it is hard to overlook the opportunity to join Mercedes, especially considering his prior experience with Red Bull and Verstappen.

Albon exhibited exceptional performance for Williams in 2023, consistently pushing the vehicle past its imagined limitations. Through his individual efforts, he propelled Williams to seventh place in the constructors’ championship while establishing himself as one of the most highly desired and prosperous drivers in Formula 1. Mercedes would be foolish not to consider him alongside Russell.

Esteban Ocon 

Even though Ocon has been driving for Alpine since 2020, he is still somewhat involved with Mercedes via his management.

Mercedes managed his junior career and early forays into Formula One, but he was never in a position to be promoted to a full-fledged F1 squad. Like many others on this list, he might sense the need for a change if he begins another season weighed deep in the middle of the park.

Is this the long-awaited opportunity for Ocon? Is the vacancy available at Mercedes at the opportune moment? To demonstrate his worthiness, he must assertively remind everyone of his talents during the Grand Prix season in 2024.

Frederik Vesti 

Mercedes would likely turn to its collection of junior drivers, of whom Frederik Vesti is the most prominent at the moment if an existing F1 driver doesn’t spark interest. The Danish youngster, who has been impressive throughout his junior career, is 22 years old.

His first season in Formula 2 was lackluster, but he returned strong in 2023, challenging eventual winner Theo Pourchaire and emerging from the last race as one of the most impressive drivers.

He races in the European Le Mans Series in 2024, as well as being the reserve driver for 2024 so everyone will be watching to see whether he has done enough to be moved to the Mercedes F1 squad. It seems more fitting for him to follow Russell’s lead and join via Williams or something similar.

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