Confirmation of Lewis Hamilton’s move to Ferrari for the 2025 season on Thursday has left Mercedes with ample time to find a suitable replacement for the most successful driver in Formula One history. While numerous drivers on the current grid will be out of contract at the season’s end, the spotlight is on identifying the individual who will step into Hamilton’s illustrious shoes.
Examining potential candidates, several options emerge, each with its set of questions and considerations:
Carlos Sainz, 29: A direct swap for Hamilton, Sainz has been considered a top target for Audi, set to enter Formula One as a works team in 2026. The Spaniard’s potential move to Mercedes raises questions about the length of the contract and whether he would opt for a one-year deal or consider a more extended commitment.
Alex Albon, 27: Having impressed with Mercedes-powered Williams, Albon presents a strong case for a straightforward deal. With close ties to Mercedes principal Toto Wolff through Williams’ team management, securing Albon’s services could be a relatively smooth process.
Andrea Kimi Antonelli, 17: A rising Italian talent under contract with Mercedes, the 17-year-old Antonelli is yet to debut in Formula Two. If deemed not ready for Mercedes, there is speculation about offering him to Williams to gain experience.
Mick Schumacher, 24: As the official reserve driver and son of Michael Schumacher, Mick’s challenging seasons with Haas and current role with Renault-owned Alpine make him a less likely option compared to other candidates.
Esteban Ocon, 27: A Mercedes-backed junior driver and reserve, Ocon is entering his eighth season in Formula One. While highly rated, he might have slipped down the list of options over time.
Valtteri Bottas, 34: Hamilton’s former teammate, Bottas, now with Sauber, is out of contract at the end of the year. A return to Mercedes seems unlikely, but his familiarity with the team adds an intriguing dimension.
Fernando Alonso, 42: A double world champion, Alonso is out of contract at Aston Martin but shows no signs of slowing down. His competitive spirit and experience make him an interesting prospect.
Sebastian Vettel, 36: Germany’s four-times world champion, Vettel could be persuaded to come out of retirement, similar to Schumacher in 2010. Having left Aston Martin in 2022, Vettel has not entirely ruled out a return, making him a compelling consideration for Mercedes.