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Mercedes’ next step: Who will replace the irreplaceable?

Written by Jacob Awcock, Edited by Sharifah Zaqreeztrina

Lewis Hamilton. Arguably the most talented racing driver to ever grace Formula One. A plethora of achievements, ranging from the most race wins and podiums to the most World Championships, equalling racing legend Michael Scumacher’s record.

Having joined Mercedes in 2013 as a 28 year old, with just one World Championship and 21 race wins under his belt, Hamilton has recently announced that he is leaving the Silver Arrows in 2025 after seven World Championships and 103 race wins.

He’ll soon be driving for the Prancing Horse,  competing alongside his younger teammate Charles Leclerc. While the motorsport community is excited over Ferrari’s future driver lineup, Mercedes ponder the important question: Who will take over the seat of the team’s most decorated driver in history?: 

Fernando Alonso

Since Hamilton’s announcement, the Spanish veteran has been heavily linked with the vacant position at Mercedes. The 42 year old has two world titles to his name, having famously ended the Schumacher - Ferrari domination from 2000 to 2004,  as well as 32 race wins and 22 pole positions.

While his stats are not as impressive as those of Hamilton, they still present him with a much more impressive CV when compared to other drivers that are also knocking on Mercedes’ door.

Could he? Should he?; Image Credits: Getty Images

At the age of 42, it is safe to say the Aston Martin driver is not short of experience either, having raced for a total of six different teams during his 20 year stint in Formula One.

Ferrari is the name that sticks out as it does on everyone's record but it did not go to plan for Alonso at the Italian outfit as he was unable to claim a championship there during his four year spell despite coming second in the Drivers’ Championship on three separate occasions. 

Moving back to the Maranello-based team will no doubt have its pros and cons for Alonso, and it is clear to see why Mercedes have such a profound interest in him.

Mercedes would gain a wealth of experience that could not only benefit their records but also help their other driver George Russell to develop even further although already been mentored by Hamilton. Experience will definitely play a vital role in Alonso’s decision and whether or not this is a good move for him quite late in his career.

Carlos Sainz Jr.

Sainz is now a free agent and undoubtedly will want to outperform Hamilton, as well as Ferrari for the final season with them. The first step of doing this is gaining a spot at one of the top performing teams. Both Red Bull and Mercedes will most likely have seats available come the end of 2024 and Sainz will be at the top of the list for both teams.

Sainz will be out to prove himself and become the most-favoured to replace Hamilton; Image Credits: Getty Images

Other than outscoring teammate Leclerc in his first year in Ferrari, over the course of his two year spell at Ferrari, he most notably achieved his first race win at the 2022 British Grand Prix and broke the Red Bull’s winning streak by finishing first at the 2023 SIngapore Grand Prix.

Sainz has already proven himself to be capable of competing against the best and the possibility of pairing up with George Russell is no less of a challenge than the one he faced at Ferrari.

However, Mercedes will face stern competition from Red Bull who will also be vying for the signature of Sainz.

Mercedes’ task may be made slightly more difficult based on Sainz’s previous history with Red Bull, having competed with the junior team Toro Rosso in his debut season, and was also a part of the Red Bull driver development programme during his time in the junior series. 

With this in mind, Sainz will most likely favour a move to Red Bull. Nevertheless, having learned Sainz’s great performances during his time with Ferrari, Mercedes will still fancy their chances of securing the Spaniard’s signature.


Alex Albon 

Following an extraordinary season at a largely uncompetitive Williams, where he led the team almost single handedly to seventh in the Constructors Championship, Albon will fancy his chances of having a second chance at a top team.

Having competed for Red Bull from 2019 to 2020 but unable to match teammate Max Verstappen, he was eventually let go. Despite being there for a short period of time, Albon learned the ins and outs of a top team and this will play a significant part in helping him appeal to Mercedes to partner George Russell. 

However, with two drivers of similar age and talent. Russell will want to be prioritised as he has been at Mercedes for much longer. If Albon starts to improve and outperform Russell, could we see a repeat of Hamilton-Rosberg rivalry with Russell becoming increasingly frustrated over time?

Alex Albon has already raced for Red Bull, could he pull an audacious move to Mercedes?; Image Credits: Getty Images

Mercedes seem keen to promote drivers from Williams to their team, as evident with Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas being products of the Grove-based team.

Could Albon be the next driver to do so? This would be the perfect opportunity for him to showcase his talent after a lacklustre season with Red Bull and without a doubt this will fuel his performances if he was to race in the Silver Arrows. 

The Williams driver has previously stated that he feels ready to fight in a championship team, fueling speculation he might return to Red Bull to replace Sergio Perez. But if not, could he land himself a seat at one of the most historic teams on the grid, Mercedes?  

Kimi Antonelli

Besides considering the well-seasoned drivers on the grid, many motorsport fans also grew eager for a rookie to arrive in Formula One for the 2025 season.

Having experienced rapid rise in the junior racing scene and about to begin his debut Formula 2 season with Prema, Kimi Antonelli has been snapped up by Mercedes early in his racing career, to be part of their driver development programme, and they may look to him as their future Lewis Hamilton.

The young Italian has already experienced large masses of praise. Could he emulate Verstappen’s rise to Formula One and leap into a top team at a young age?; Image Credits: Getty Images

The 17-year-old is also a decorated driver in the feeder series. Other than winning multiple karting championships, he clinched more titles at the 2022 Italian Formula 4 Championship and ADAC F4 Championship, as well as the 2023 Formula Regional championships in both the Middle East and Europe. 

Due to these stellar performances at such a young age, Antonelli is highly regarded as the next Max Verstappen and has already been praised by Mercedes team principal Toto Wollf. Wolff claimed that Antonelli has “immense potential” and acted on this praise in 2019 by signing him up to their driver academy. 

This could be vital for Mercedes if they decided to sign him after his season in Formula 2. With multiple other drivers’ contracts due to expire at the end of 2024, several teams will look to sign Antonelli and Mercedes will have to make haste if they chose youth over experience and opt for the young Italian.

It’s remarkably clear that Mercedes is spoilt for choice when choosing a replacement for the seven time world champion Lewis Hamilton, but the question is who?

Will the team prioritise youth over experience, or will they go for a wise head that could guide the team back to the heights they once achieved? Can the Silver Arrows return to their previous form with a new, formidable line up and fill the void that has been created by the departure of Hamilton? Let us know in the comments below!


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