Rumours of a potential Mercedes move for Fernando Alonso have gone into overdrive after his manager Flavio Briatore posted a picture of himself with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff on Monday.
Mercedes team principal and one-third owner Wolff has a major piece of business to attend to in the Formula 1 driver market after the bombshell news earlier this month that seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton will leave to join Ferrari in 2025.
Wolff has made it clear that he will not rush to find Hamilton’s replacement, with a seat alongside George Russell bound to attract considerable interest. Two-time World Champion Alonso is likely to be among the leading candidates for a 2025 Mercedes seat.
Flavio Briatore and Toto Wolff meet-up linked to Fernando Alonso?
Alonso, currently racing for Aston Martin, is managed by long-term friend Briatore, who oversaw his title triumphs as team principal of Renault in 2005/06.
With Alonso regarded mentioned as a prime contender to replace Hamilton, Briatore’s posting of an image to his Instagram account of he and Wolff having breakfast at Pasticceria Cova Montecarlo on Monday morning will only add fuel to the fire.
A simple catch-up over breakfast – or Briatore pitching Alonso for a Mercedes 2025 seat?
That will remain private between the pair for now, though various fans commented on the post to make it clear they felt this get-together had implications on Alonso’s F1 future.
One fan replied: “NO! Its happening!”
“What are you doing, negotiating the champion car for Alonso in 2025?” another wrote.
“Fernando IN,” said a fellow fan, tagging Wolff for good measure, as another responded: “Fernando to Mercedes.”
Alonso responded to the Mercedes speculation at the launch of Aston Martin’s new car, the AMR24, insisting that staying with Aston Martin is his “priority” as it stands.
However, he teased that his negotiating position is “very unique” as the only World Champion currently without a contract beyond F1 2024, with Hamilton and Max Verstappen committed to Ferrari and Red Bull respectively.
“On the Mercedes theme, no, nothing at all,” Alonso told media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher when asked if he had held discussions with Mercedes.
“I know the driver market has started earlier this year than probably June or July, which is the normal timing, but this will not affect me at all, in terms of preparing for the season.
“We have very limited testing in Bahrain. I cannot think too much about the future right now. I will have to see and wait a few races. I’m aware of my situation, which is very unique.
“There are only three World Champions on the grid and fast World Champions, because in the past, maybe there were some World Champions, they were not so committed to being fast.
“I’m probably the only one available for ’25. So I am in a good position.
“But at the same time, when I make the decision [on] if I want to keep racing on for the future, the first and only talk that I will have at the beginning is with Aston Martin, because that will be my only one priority.”
Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack told media including PlanetF1.com that the team intend to offer Alonso a new two-year contract to ward off interest from the likes of Mercedes, claiming the Silverstone-based squad have fallen in “love” with the Spaniard following his arrival from Alpine in 2023.