Who will replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes? Carlos Sainz and six other options

Lewis Hamilton has made a shock move from Mercedes to Ferrari for the 2025 season.

The British driver has been at Mercedes for more than a decade, winning six of his seven world titles with the team, but Hamilton has not won an F1 race for over two years as the team have dropped off the pace behind Red Bull.

The news has shocked the world of Formula 1, with Hamilton partnering Charles Leclerc, who signed a long-term extension with Ferrari last week.

Hamilton will replace Carlos Sainz next year at the iconic Italian team, with the Spanish driver’s contract running out at the end of 2024.

Here is a look at who could replace Hamilton at Mercedes.

Carlos Sainz

A straight-swap deal could be the most obvious move for Mercedes. Sainz was out of contract at Ferrari at the end of this year anyway and will now be looking for a new team for 2025.

Sainz is a two-time race winner, most recently with a terrific drive in Singapore last year, and has been on the podium 18 times during his nine-year career in F1 so far.

The 29-year-old will be looking for his fifth team, having previously driven for Toro Rosso, Renault and McLaren before Ferrari.

Carlos Sainz now seems to be looking for a new team (Getty Images)
Carlos Sainz now seems to be looking for a new team (Getty Images)

Sergio Perez

Another man likely to be out of a job come the end of 2024, Sergio Perez’s deal at Red Bull expires at the end of the new season.

An extension appears unlikely at this stage, given the gap to team-mate Max Verstappen last year as Christian Horner’s team look to maximise points armed with the quickest car on the grid.

Rumours were bound last year that the Mexican could potentially retire after he leaves Red Bull. Should he decide not to after this year though – what would be his 14th straight season in the sport – Perez may want to reach out to Wolff and Mercedes.

Lando Norris

Has the Brit showed his hand too soon? The 24-year-old signed a new long-term deal at McLaren last week, taking him beyond 2025 with the papaya and into the next era of regulation changes.

Yet Norris, who is still searching for his first win in F1, is one of the fastest drivers on the grid and Wolff could well look to land Norris to replace Hamilton – and maintain an all-British feel to the garage.

That being said, it would take some serious money to do so now.

Alex Albon

Continually shining at Williams – where Mercedes have signed their last two drivers from – Albon would represent a promising choice to replace Hamilton.

Having come through Red Bull’s junior programme, the British-Thai driver was dropped at the end of 2020 after struggling during his 18-month stint as Max Verstappen’s team-mate.

But following a year in the wilderness in 2021, Albon joined backmarker Williams and is now the team’s unequivocal No 1 driver. The 27-year-old scored 27 points last year as he guided James Vowles’ (Wolff’s former right-hand man at Mercedes) team to seventh in the constructors’ championship.

Alex Albon has been driving for Williams (Getty Images)
Alex Albon has been driving for Williams (Getty Images)

Fernando Alonso

Who has the two-time world champion not driven for, I hear you ask? Well, Mercedes is one such team.

The 42-year-old was a revelation in his first season for Aston Martin last year, securing eight podiums as he finished fourth in the drivers’ championship.

Despite his age, the Spaniard shows no signs of retirement just yet and a move to the Silver Arrows could well give him one final, realistic shot at a third world title.

Mick Schumacher

Schumacher, son of seven-time world champion Michael, is currently Mercedes’ reserve driver and was present on the pitwall last year.

Having been dropped by Haas at the end of 2022 following two tumultuous years, the 24-year-old is desperate for a route back onto the grid.

However, given his struggles and somewhat regular collisions with the wall at Haas, it would be an unlikely choice.

Mick Schumacher is a reserve driver at Mercedes (Getty Images)
Mick Schumacher is a reserve driver at Mercedes (Getty Images)

Andrea Kimi Antonelli

The wildcard pick.

The Italian 17-year-old is one of the most highly-regarded prospects in world motorsport. Such is his promise having won the Formula Regional championships in 2023 in both the Middle East and Europe, he is this year skipping F3 to make his F2 debut for Prema Racing, alongside British teenager Ollie Bearman.

A member of Mercedes’ young driver programme, Antonelli’s promotion to one of the sport’s juggernauts in 2025 – when he would be just 18 – would represent something of a gamble.

Should he shine in F2 from the get-go though, he could emerge as a serious contender from within the Silver Arrows ecosystem.

Other contenders:

Esteban Ocon – Alpine driver was a reserve at Mercedes and has a good relationship with Wolff.

Daniel Ricciardo – Should the Aussie impress this season for Red Bull’s sister team (note to self: don’t call them the Visa Cash App RB team), Ricciardo could put his name in the mix.

Valtteri Bottas – A return for the safe-hands Finn? It would appear unlikely – yet so seemed Hamilton moving to Ferrari.

Sebastian Vettel – The ultimate comeback story for the four-time world champion German, returning to a German team? Who’s to say Wolff would not at least ask the question.