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  • Writer's pictureToni Sokolov

Who will drive for Mercedes in 2025?


Who will replace Hamilton for 2025?
Photo credit: Ferrari Media center, Pirelli Media, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Media

Recently, we got an announcement from Ferrari, Mercedes, and Lewis Hamilton about possibly the biggest F1 transfer of the decade. Lewis Hamilton will drive for Scuderia Ferrari starting from the 2025 season, paired with Charles Leclerc. Both of them have options after 2026 to negotiate their extension with Ferrari. Leclerc can extend until 2028, and Lewis Hamilton has a 2+1 option for the 2027 Formula 1 season.


This turn of events left a Brackley-based team with large shoes to fill, with George Russell being left without a 7-time-World-Champion teammate. There is plenty of time with 12 drivers having no contract secured after 2024 for a potential switch of teams, but things could get hectic very quickly with an early start to F1 Silly Season!


Who are the current names that could replace Lewis Hamilton? Check it out:


CARLOS SAINZ

This one seems very obvious. Carlos Sainz could be a great replacement for Mercedes in a "switch-up" between the two teams. Carlos is a two-time race winner and has as many races under his belt as Max Verstappen, which not many of today's drivers can brag about. He was also a factory driver. Recently, with Scuderia Ferrari, McLaren, and Renault. He was also in a Red Bull system since the start of his career. He is quick and tactically mature in races. An area in which Mercedes struggled in the last two seasons.

He will be 30 years old at the start of 2025, a prime age for drivers.


FERNANDO ALONSO

The good old Fernando Alonso. He is on this list because anything can happen, as proven in the past with Alonso's moves to different teams. He is the most experienced driver in F1 and still plenty quick to deliver the results if the car is remotely capable of achieving it. We can agree that he's a Top 5 driver in the current F1. The only problem is that he's 43 years old in July. Would Mercedes go with a 44-45-year-old driver in their team? It seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened in the past, especially with Alonso's career in general. 


ESTEBAN OCON

An aggressive Frenchman, Esteban Ocon is for sure on a quick dial in Toto's phone as Mercedes is still managing his career even now when he is a full-time and fully contracted to Alpine F1 Team. This is why there is a high-chance of him getting a call from Toto about possibly jumping into that 2nd Mercedes seat alongside George Russell. Esteban isn't the quickest driver on the grid, but he's plenty fast to deliver some solid results and podiums with his pure and aggressive driving style. He is only 27 years old, and his best days should be ahead of him. Don't be surprised if Ocon gets that contract with Mercedes, maybe even by only keeping that seat warm for Antonelli. 


SEBASTIAN VETTEL

German driver retired from F1 at the end of the 2022., while still driving excellently in a bad Aston Martin car of 2021 and 2022. He is still a very capable driver who wouldn't retire if he had an open path to a podium/wins-capable car at his disposal. This would be an excellent and probably his last chance of getting in the car that would offer him a chance to fight for the front of the grid. He isn't that old (only 36), and the only issue is his motivation. Does he have any plans? What about his green initiatives? Can he commit to driving again? We know how good he is, and he does have a great relationship with Toto Wolff. He could be the guy to push Mercedes into new 2026 rules and prepare the team for another WDC/WCC run or to keep the seat warm for Antonelli. 


ANDREA KIMI ANTONELLI

Soon-to-be 18-year-old wunderkind from Italy, Andrea Kimi Antonelli, a Mercedes Academy driver is the only young prospect that could make a step up to Mercedes's newly opened position. Antonelli will skip F3 and go directly into F2 for 2024 from his Formula Regional Championship that he won with Prema Powerteam. He does have a great potential to be Mercedes's Max Verstappen type of project if they're willing to take that risk. Mercedes and Toto would have to wait until late in the season to assess Antonelli in F2 and analyze if he's making progress. This could put them in an awkward position of putting a young rookie into the team with WDC/WCC potential with a risk of not having any other alternative later in the season. 


Conclusion

Mercedes will have a tough time finding someone as good as Lewis Hamilton was in his prime years with them. Only two from the list above that are in the same or similar category of driver caliber are Vettel and Alonso. One has been retired for almost 2 years, and Alonso is the 43-year-old driver. Therefore, the No.1 candidate would be Carlos Sainz, which would edge it out in comparison to Esteban Ocon or a gamble in Antonelli in the hope of hitting another Max Verstappen type of cycle for the next 10 seasons. 


This Silly Season will be absolutely on fire. 

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