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Ranking five drivers who could replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes

With pre-season testing underway, F1 fans are wondering which drivers Mercedes are paying closer attention to as the search begins for Lewis Hamilton’s replacement.

Planet Sport's Monica De Los Angeles ranks the top five drivers who could be making the move to the Brackley-based team in 2025.  

 

5. Esteban Ocon 

Frenchman Esteban Ocon's name has recently surfaced as a possible contender for the open seat at Mercedes, given his history with the team and his close connection with team principal Toto Wolff. 

Ocon’s current contract with Alpine is set to expire at the end of this year and many believe a return to Mercedes could be in his future. Having been signed to the Mercedes junior programme in 2015 and later turned their reserve driver for the 2019 season, Ocon has a close relationship to the top-field team. 

However, when addressing the speculation regarding his 2025 plans, Ocon said he has always maintained “strong links” to Mercedes but expressed that he remains “totally dedicated” to his current employer. 

During the launch of the Alpine A524, the French driver said: “I need to do a good job on track as always. Every year is a crucial year in F1 because it doesn't matter if you have a contract or not. If you don't perform, you can be out. That's how it is.”

Regardless, after a positive 2023 season with an impressive third-place finish in the Monaco Grand Prix, we may just see Ocon make tidal waves in the paddock this year. 

With new team principal Bruno Famin, could we see a new era on the horizon for the Alpine driver, or will we see him sporting a Mercedes suit next year? 

 

4. Fernando Alonso 

One of the most decorated drivers on the grid this season, Fernando Alonso does not seem to be slowing down any time soon. 

“We have this new facility here, we have everything to succeed for the future, and I trust this project,” said the three-time world champion. “So that will be my first priority when I say that I want to speak first with Aston Martin, because I feel part of this project very much.” 

The Spaniard had a very good 2023 season with Aston Martin, after starting strong with six podiums out of the first eight races - but they were unable to keep that momentum going for the second half of the season. 

Despite this, they have become a team capable of fighting for podiums, with a world champion driving one of their cars. 

Alonso is the only world champion on the driver market this season which makes him an appealing prospect for most teams with open seats to fill. 

Though Alonso himself hasn’t made any comments to suggest a move to Mercedes is a priority, many fans of Alonso and Mercedes alike have communicated their interest in seeing George Russell and Alonso team up. 

While Alonso claims there have not yet been talks with Mercedes, he admittedly knows he’s an “attractive” candidate for the Mercedes seat. 

 

3. Carlos Sainz

Lewis Hamilton’s move to Ferrari leaves Carlos Sainz without a confirmed seat for 2025 and makes him a clear candidate for the seat at Mercedes. 

The shocking news of Ferrari’s 2025 driver line-up has created a heightened sense of anticipation for driver partnerships and more surprises to come. Among those, Sainz has become a key player in the driver market as he has gained much notoriety throughout his career, most especially in his time with Ferrari. 

Having been the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race last year, his second race win in Formula 1, Sainz has landed a place on every team's watchlist for this season. 

Though this move would make it a simple driver swap between Ferrari and Mercedes, fans online are hesitant to see a team up between Russell and Sainz. While the two drivers get along well enough, it is speculated there are other teams after Sainz that could be a better fit for the Spaniard like Audi or Red Bull. 

When speaking on his future at the SF-23 car launch in Maranello, Sainz said: "I want to make sure I pick the right next destination for me. So I'm going to take my time to think about it, to listen to all the options, to have a look at all the options, so that I can just feel comfortable when I make the decision, [that] I've given myself enough time and with enough information.” 

Whether or not he ends up at Mercedes, Sainz seems to be a contender for several teams. 

Only time will tell what exactly he will be looking for heading into what he believes will be the “most important three or four years of my career”. 

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Carlos Sainz explores Formula 1 options post-Ferrari snub

 

2. Andrea Kimi Antonelli 

Mercedes junior driver, Andrea Kimi Antonelli, has recently been dubbed a strong candidate for a seat alongside Russell for the 2025 season. 

The Italian driver has rapidly risen up through the ranks of motorsport series. At only 17 years old he is set to make his Formula 2 debut this year. 

For many, he seems a very young option but when asked about potential replacements for Hamilton, Mercedes team principal Wolff said: “Maybe it’s a chance to do something bold.” 

This has led many in the Formula 1 community to believe that Antonelli is a strong option, despite his age and experience level. Additionally, Antonelli’s rise to the top has reminded many of the way seven-time world champion Hamilton also climbed up the ranks at such a young age. 

According to F1Briefing, Mercedes may have identified the promising young driver as their primary option to succeed Hamilton following his move to Ferrari for the 2025 season. 

Pairing a young driver with someone like Russell could be a match made in heaven or a complete mistake. As such, could we see Antonelli teaming up with Russell and bringing the fight back to Red Bull next year? 

 

1. Alex Albon  

Another driver with history at Mercedes, Alex Albon has been dubbed online as the favorite and most potential option since the news of Hamilton’s departure was confirmed. 

After an impressive 2023 season at Williams, Albon has shown what he can do with a bottom-field car, which has put him on every team's radar. 

With his rookie team-mate Logan Sargeant earning one point the entire season, Albon was essentially able to singlehandedly secure a seventh-place finish in the constructor’s championship. 

The Williams driver also has a very close relationship already with Mercedes driver Russell, with the two making fans obsess over their Formula 1 ‘bromance’. 

When asked about the potential to leave Williams, the Thai-British driver said: "I would be denying it if I said that there have [not] been questions and general chats surrounding that. But truthfully it's not really personally my area, that's more my management. My focus is on driving.” 

The issue therein lies in the fact that Albon’s current contract with Williams is set to end in 2025. 

If Mercedes are truly adamant about Albon, would they be willing to buy him out of his contract? 

It’s also possible they may take on a different driver for the 2025 season and prepare a pre-contract with Albon. Regardless, Albon is certainly keeping the cards close to his chest, saying: "Let's see. Time will tell, But my focus is on 2024.” 

As a new season of Formula 1 begins, only time will tell how this massive driver shuffle will end. 

If there’s anything these last few weeks have proven, it’s that anything can happen when you least expect it.

READ MORE: Lewis Hamilton sets sights on creating 'new chapter' with Ferrari in 2025

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