If this is your first time hearing about Lewis Hamilton moving to Ferrari, that’s almost impressive at this point, given how seismic this move is for both him and Formula 1 as a whole.
The seven-time World Champion’s move to Maranello for 2025 has made headlines on both front and back pages around the world, with Formula 1’s most successful driver set to move to its most successful team after one more year with Mercedes.
There will be no shortage of candidates looking to replace him at Mercedes however, so we have put them into tiers of who are looking like the most likely options through to potential outside chances to partner George Russell in 2025.
Perhaps a logical option for Mercedes, and would mirror Russell’s own move in stepping from Williams to Mercedes.
He’s in the form of his life having rebuilt himself after moving to Williams, following a year on the sidelines after his demotion from Red Bull.
His contract with Williams is widely thought to be entering its final season and he is unlikely to be short of options; Mercedes could well be the best one of them.
Fernando Alonso’s partnership with Aston Martin has got off to a flying start, but given how they waned towards the end of 2023, could yet one more roll of the dice be on the cards for him before the end of his illustrious career?
Aston Martin are doing all they can to convince him to continue with the team beyond the end of his current deal, but Alonso is more than capable of assessing his options before coming to the decision best for him.
If Mercedes want experience, World Championship material and unwaning speed, look no further.
Now he is a free agent at the end of 2024, a Mercedes move would make plenty of sense for Carlos Sainz, especially considering he has really not done a lot wrong at Maranello.
His confirmed departure at the end of the season is only likely to strengthen the rumours linking him with Sauber however, given they will become Audi in the 2026 season.
His father, Carlos Sainz Sr, has already admitted he has “exchanged views” with Audi about the future, so that could end up being his first port of call.
Don’t rule out Mercedes however, should Sainz pursue an opportunity he knows is more likely to be competitive in the first instance.
A former Mercedes junior who is still managed by the Silver Arrows from afar at Alpine, there is a chance that Esteban Ocon could finally take up the drive that was once earmarked for him.
Several factors would need to be established before that happens however, not least the fact that he would need to make himself clearly stand out over Pierre Gasly at Alpine in 2024.
He knows the Mercedes team well, so would fit right in if selected.
Make no mistake, Daniel Ricciardo’s first priority is to show what he can do at RB to put himself in the best possible position to try and partner Max Verstappen at Red Bull in 2025.
But should Sergio Perez do enough to keep his seat, or if Yuki Tsunoda, Liam Lawson or an external candidate for Red Bull get the nod ahead of the Australian, a chance to race for Mercedes would be Ricciardo’s chance to put himself at the forefront again.
Andrea Kimi Antonelli
The big prospect for the future.
Mercedes junior Andrea Kimi Antonelli has been promoted straight past Formula 3 and into Formula 2 for this season, with the 17-year-old certainly impressing enough to warrant such a jump.
He won the Italian and ADAC F4 titles in 2022, before following that up with Formula Regional titles in both the Middle East and European Championships last year.
The Italian was likely earmarked as a possible Hamilton replacement after the end of 2025, so if his maiden F2 campaign goes well, how brave is Toto Wolff feeling about putting a very highly-rated rookie in one of his cars? He’s one to keep an eye on.
If Carlos Sainz goes to Sauber and the team opt to finally promote highly-rated reserve Théo Pourchaire to a race seat, Mercedes could do worse than bringing back an ‘old reliable’ in Valtteri Bottas.
With the team looking to the future and trusting Russell as their potential leader, Bottas would represent a sturdy option alongside him – though with a host of others available, a few other seats in F1’s musical chairs would likely be filled before a return is considered.
Officially Mercedes’ reserve driver, Mick Schumacher is still on the team’s books and is doing all he can behind the scenes to help the team move forward.
He will have to do some convincing on track with Alpine in the World Endurance Championship to show he is ready to step back onto the F1 grid, though.
Unfortunately for Schumacher, there is no better shop window in F1 than being on the grid already and that isn’t available to him this year, but he will at least have a chance to get back out on track again.
Had Toto Wolff not said in his post-Hamilton press conference that he had already spoken to Vettel and he is likely to stay retired, he would have probably featured in the ‘possible’ section at least.
Alas, that is not the case, telling media including PlanetF1.com the day after Hamilton was announced to go to Ferrari: “I think he made the decision to not race anymore. We are talking on a regular basis.
“We’ve also talked yesterday, but it wasn’t about driving for us in the future.”
Stranger things have happened in Formula 1, but it’s unlikely.