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Lewis Hamilton's departure sparks speculation on Mercedes' next driver

Lewis Hamilton's career with Mercedes will come finish at the end of the 2024 season, the question is who will replace the seven-time Formula 1 champion?

Toto Wolff, the team principal, has already received messages from eager drivers eyeing the coveted seat.

In an interview with CNBC, Wolff acknowledged the challenge of finding a replacement for the most successful F1 driver in history. "We like the opportunities and maybe we are going to be bold as well," he hinted, emphasizing the team's openness to exploring various options.

One potential contender is Carlos Sainz, currently with Ferrari, who will be displaced by Hamilton next year. Sainz's impressive win last season makes him a hot commodity in the driver market. On the other hand, Wolff hinted at the possibility of opting for a younger talent, such as the promising Kimi Antonelli.

Wolff shed light on the team's approach, saying, "We have the full spectrum, from very young talent to experienced drivers with performance and knowledge. The next few months will be interesting in evaluating all those options."

While the speculation around the 2025 driver line-up intensifies, Mercedes face the immediate challenge of narrowing the gap to the dominant Red Bull Racing in the 2024 season. Wolff acknowledged the difficulty of catching up in a stable regulatory environment but expressed determination to enhance performance.

As Wolff navigates through this pivotal year, he also provided insights into the contractual clause that allowed Hamilton to depart for Ferrari in 2025. Explaining the agreement made during the renewal of Hamilton's contract last summer, Wolff stated, "The timing was a bit of a surprise, but the decision in itself didn't come out of nowhere. Eventually, a racing driver's career ends, and for Lewis, he wanted some change, to try something new."

Mercedes, accustomed to handling changes in driver line-ups, now have a full year to strategise and give it their all in the upcoming season. Wolff affirmed, "On one side, we want success this year with both our drivers, but then we need to look into 2025 and 2026, and that's going to play on our minds."

As the engines roar to life for the 2024 season, Formula 1 enthusiasts eagerly await the unfolding drama and the unveiling of the new Mercedes driver before 2025, who will carry the legacy left by the iconic Lewis Hamilton. 

Read More: Lewis Hamilton's Ferrari move sets stage for showdown with Charles Leclerc (planetsport.com)

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