Toto Wolff has golden chance to kill two birds with one stone ahead of Lewis Hamilton exit

COMMENT: Toto Wolff can set Mercedes up for the present and the future once Lewis Hamilton departs.


Toto Wolff must scour the F1 driver market for Lewis Hamilton’s replacement 

 

Lewis Hamilton’s 2025 Mercedes exit has left Toto Wolff with a huge decision to make in the search for the seven-time world champion’s successor. But the Austrian at least has plenty of options, and one particular two-step approach could secure the Silver Arrows’ future both in the short and long term.

 

With 103 Grand Prix victories to his name, Hamilton will leave massive boots to fill when he joins Ferrari next year. As Wolff scours the driver market for options, one in particular sticks out by virtue of their superb F1 pedigree – Fernando Alonso.

 

“There are only three world champions on the grid and I am the only one available for 2025,” teased the Spaniard during Aston Martin’s AMR24 launch earlier this week. “So I am in a good position.”

 

Alonso has been a smash hit at Aston, notching all eight of their podiums last season and racking up nearly three times as many points as team-mate Lance Stroll. But there is no getting away from his age.

 

If, hypothetically, Alonso was selected as Hamilton’s replacement, he would arrive at Mercedes at the back-end of the twilight of his career. At 43 years old, it seems highly unlikely that Wolff and co would be comfortable offering anything more than a two-year contract.

 

In that case, the Silver Arrows would be back to square one and searching for George Russell’s next side-kick within 24 months. But if Wolff plays his cards right, Mercedes could have their next long-term prospect primed and ready for action by the time Alonso calls it a day.

 

Mercedes junior driver Kimi Antonelli is making his F2 debut this season after a hugely successful rise through the youth ranks. Some have tipped him to take Hamilton’s seat in 2025, although Wolff has suggested that talk of stepping up to the big leagues may have come a fraction too soon.

 

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While chasing Grand Prix wins at Mercedes during his teenage years may be too much of a tall order, Antonelli could find his way onto the grid further back in the pack if Wolff utilises his healthy working relationship with Williams.

 

Mercedes have supplied Williams with engines since 2014, and their agreement is set to run for another six years. It is therefore firmly within the realms of possibility for the Silver Arrows to negotiate with a customer team to take on one of their promising young drivers, as they did with Russell back in 2019.

 

Wolff has a strong ally in the Williams garage, with his former chief strategist James Vowles currently occupying the role of team principal. And he will likely be on the lookout for a new driver to partner Alex Albon in 2025 if Logan Sargeant does not improve on his rookie season performance.

 

Giving Antonelli the chance to earn his stripes at a team Wolff trusts would be the ideal way to set the Italian up for the Mercedes seat, while providing Alonso the opportunity to show he’s still got it in the meantime.

 

 

Gideon Canice

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