Hamilton was Mercedes' Plan B to replace Schumacher, former chief reveals
Lewis Hamilton was not Mercedes' first choice to replace Michael Schumacher, it has been revealed, with the Silver Arrows' top brass preferring a move for Nick Heidfeld.
Hamilton and Mercedes have dominated F1 since the dawning of the V6 Hybrid era and a sixth straight title double is a near-certainty for the Silver Arrows in 2019 as the Brit leads team-mate Valtteri Bottas by 63 points in the drivers' standings.
Hamilton has won the individual crown in four of the last five years, Nico Rosberg taking the other, and is a sure bet to move within one title of Schumacher by adding a sixth by the end of the year.
However, things might have been very different had Mercedes' senior staff had their way, with an apparent desire to maintain the all-German feel to the driver line-up when facing the departure of Schumacher.
"Initially I couldn't get Mercedes on board with hiring Lewis," former Mercedes CEO Nick Fry wrote in his book 'Survive. Drive. Win.', as serialised by RaceFans.
"More than once we were sent back to come up with other ideas.
"For whatever reason, we were told to look at people like Nick Heidfeld again, who was super-keen to get the seat, and repeatedly text me with photos of himself, his family and his dog in a futile bid to pique my interest."
Heidfeld scored 13 podiums in 183 grand prix starts for Prost, Sauber, Jordan, Williams and Lotus Renault, for whom he last raced in 2011.
The German was second to Hamilton as he took his maiden F1 race win at the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix and scored his best finish in the drivers' championship at the end of that season in fifth place, while Hamilton lost out in a memorable battle with Fernando Alonso and champion Kimi Raikkonen.
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