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Revenge, Popularity or Youth: The five options Mercedes face in replacing Hamilton

Revenge, Popularity or Youth: The five options Mercedes face in replacing Hamilton

Revenge, Popularity or Youth: The five options Mercedes face in replacing Hamilton

Revenge, Popularity or Youth: The five options Mercedes face in replacing Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has one more season left at Mercedes.

A sentence I thought I would be writing to announce his retirement from the sport, but here we are, one year away from seeing the seven-time world champion get behind the wheel of a Ferrari.

Change has a habit of causing a sense of unease, yet in this case there is no denying that the overwhelming feeling is one of excitement.

But for Mercedes, they have one hell of a job on their hands in answering one question: How do you go about replacing one of the greatest drivers of all time?

READ MORE: How F1 fans fell in love with the sport again

Even if the Silver Arrows aren't as competitive as they once were, the lure of driving for Mercedes is still incredibly strong.

Yet Toto Wolff and his team have a potentially era-defining decision to make in what path they take to replace Hamilton. Do they go for a quick-fix and hope to rival Red Bull in 2025? Or do they look for youth and think long-term?

Here at GPFans, we assess the options that Mercedes have in replacing Hamilton alongside the merits and pitfalls of each road they may go down.

Revenge: Carlos Sainz

Carlos Sainz is suddenly without a seat for 2025

Perhaps not revenge, so to speak, but an eye for an eye would give Mercedes a very simple fill to their Hamilton-shaped hole.

Sainz is collateral in Hamilton's move to Ferrari and Wolff could yet be tempted to go for a straight swap.

The Spaniard was the only non-Red Bull driver to claim victory in 2023 and has longed for a chance to get behind the wheel of a championship-worthy car for some time now.

The jury is still out on whether that would be at Mercedes – but Hamilton for one certainly doesn't think so.

Although the stars may align for Sainz to swap in for Hamilton, you have to argue it isn't the most imaginative move.

Just because it's obvious doesn't mean it's wrong, true, but Mercedes have the chance here to forge their own path and make a purposeful decision with a clear vision and strategy going forward.

Sainz might be the easy option – and no doubt a class operator – just not necessarily one to get overly excited about.

Peak: Alex Albon

Alex Albon enjoyed a superb 2023 season for Williams

One driver that may well get people excited is that of Alex Albon.

The 27-year-old looked a man reborn for Williams last season as he showed his maturity to guide the team to a P7 finish, their best in six seasons.

James Vowles certainly won't want to lose Albon, but Wolff will have seen how much his former strategist has waxed lyrical about the Williams star and trust his judgement implicitly.

Albon also offers Mercedes a chance to kill two birds with one stone. They get a driver that is clearly approaching his peak, but also at just 27 he still has plenty of years left in the tank, hungry to prove himself after his time at Red Bull came to an earlier than anticipated end.

There is of course the worry that Albon may struggle with the step up from Williams to Mercedes. But you would hope that alongside good friend George Russell, he may just adapt to life at the Silver Arrows faster than most.

Popularity: Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo is one of the most popular drivers in the sport

Daniel Ricciardo has had a rather peculiar year.

From being without a seat at the start of 2023, he could now find himself in the fight for either a Red Bull or Mercedes drive in 2025.

Should either of these become a reality, the Aussie would of course need a stellar 2024 campaign at AlphaTauri Visa Cash App RB.

Although perhaps improbable, the fanfare that would accompany Ricciardo's move to Mercedes would be seismic.

The Drive to Survive sensation would surely create a wave of excitement around the team and give them new-found level of publicity and interest.

This is not to say that Ricciardo isn't also an incredibly talented F1 star, far from it, but we all know the extra pull that the Honey Badger brings with him.

Experience: Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso is only getting better with age

This one could have easily been filed under the revenge column, as – let's be honest – it would be quite funny if Fernando Alonso were the one to replace Hamilton at Mercedes.

The two great rivals haven't always seen eye to eye since the Spaniard became Hamilton's first ever team-mate at McLaren back in 2007, but a healthy respect at the very least has recently blossomed.

And if we're talking about late bloomers, look no further than Alonso behind the wheel of an Aston Martin in 2023.

A superb season for the F1 veteran saw him notch up eight podiums and prove that their is life in the 42-year-old still.

If Wolff was tempted to go down a short-term roll of the dice in 2025 – and Alonso were to repeat his heroics once again this year – then I'm sure the Austrian would be very tempted to hand him the keys and send him off after Verstappen.

Youth: Andrea Kimi Antonelli

Andrea Kimi Antonelli is a rising star in motorsport

From Alonso to Antonelli and we arrive at perhaps one of the most exciting but unknown pieces that may fit this Hamilton puzzle.

The Italian star is a very highly-rated feeder series driver and has won multiple karting and single-seater titles.

Whether a driver is capable of making the leap to F1 is always hard to tell until they are actually in the cockpit, but all eyes will be on the 17-year-old's F2 season.

The last time this much excitement arose over a teenager looking to make their way to F1 came when Verstappen was on the same path – and before that, Hamilton.

There is no doubting that Antonelli is fast, just whether 2025 is a fraction too early for Mercedes to take the gamble on what would then be an 18-year-old is yet to be seen.

'If you're good enough you're old enough' could well be the mantra that Antonelli reminds Wolff, but the youngster might just be wishing that Hamilton was passing on the baton a little bit later than he currently is.

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