They will be left with George Russell, but who should they pick for him? After Lewis Hamilton’s surprise announcement on Thursday, the search for his successor at Mercedes is underway. And although it may seem that there is enough time for everything, because the Brit will leave only after this season, it is not quite true.
“A couple of contracts have been signed in the last few days with riders that we would look at (Leclerc, Norris). It would be interesting, but the timing of everything bit us a bit,” admitted Wolff.
So what are the possibilities? The easiest option seems to be to lure Carlos Sainz, i.e. to take the one who lost his spot at Ferrari because of Hamilton. But the Spaniard – also thanks to his father’s connections – is the main candidate for the Audi car company, which will enter F1 in 2026. For Mercedes, it would be just a one-year “emergency”.
“News about my future will be announced later,” said Sainz.
Then there is another Spaniard, one Fernando Alonso. Some foreign websites have already written that he is in contact with Toto Wolff, but he should make a decision only after the opening tests of this season. “I would very much like to see him in Mercedes instead of Lewis,” said Jenson Button, the 2009 F1 champion, for example.
His engagement would certainly be from Wolff et al. “it was brave”. After all, he will be 44 years old in the 2025 season, and there is also one big screw-up from the past. In 2007, he was a key mover in the espionage affair that sank McLaren (then closely linked to Mercedes).
“Fernando has some history with Mercedes that hasn’t always been the best,” Wolff said in 2017. But you know – time heals everything.
But there are also other interesting names. Mick Schumacher, the son of the seven-time champion, is still officially Mercedes’ reserve driver. He is Wolff’s protégé, but he did not compete in F1 last season and probably won’t this year either, as he found a place in the WEC World Endurance Championship.
There is also speculation about the return of four-time world champion Sebastien Vettel from retirement. “I think he decided to stop racing altogether. We talk regularly and coincidentally we also talked on Thursday, but not because he could ride with us in the future,” said Wolff.
But remember how Mercedes brought Michael Schumacher out of retirement in 2010…
The engagement of Alex Albon is also a possibility, which seems likely to Josef Král, a former pilot and now F1 commentator, or Esteban Ocon. Or take another bold path and break down the door young. The Italian Andrea Kimi Antonelli is seventeen, this year he is waiting for his first F2 season and Mercedes has him in its junior program.
“If you had told me two days ago that Lewis would go to Ferrari, I would not have believed it was possible. The contract is only good if the driver and the team really want to race together. Anything can happen in the equestrian market, and then unexpected opportunities will open up for us,” says Wolff.