Revealed: Lewis Hamilton picks his number one choice to replace him at Mercedes

Oliver Harden
Lewis Hamilton speaks to the media at the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix with a prominent Mercedes badge alongside him

2024 will be Lewis Hamilton's final season with Mercedes before he heads to Ferrari

Lewis Hamilton has claimed he would sign Andrea Kimi Antonelli to race for Mercedes in the F1 2025 season if he were in the shoes of team boss Toto Wolff.

Hamilton rocked the F1 world earlier this year by announcing that he will end his long and successful association with Mercedes at the end of this season to join Ferrari on a multi-year contract.

Lewis Hamilton picks Mercedes successor for F1 2025

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

The seven-time World Champion’s decision came just five months after he had inked a two-year contract extension to remain with Mercedes, with Hamilton activating a break clause before the first season of his new deal had officially started.

A number of drivers – including Carlos Sainz, the man whom Hamilton will replace at Ferrari, and reigning World Champion Max Verstappen – have been linked with partnering George Russell in F1 2025.

However, Mercedes’ 17-year-old junior sensation Antonelli – currently competing in F2 – is widely regarded as the team’s preferred option to replace Hamilton next season.

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And speaking to media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher ahead of this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola – his first F1 appearance on Italian soil since his switch to Ferrari was confirmed – Hamilton revealed that boy wonder Antonelli has his vote.

Asked if he would approve of Mercedes signing Sainz as his successor, Hamilton responded: “I think Carlos is a great driver, so wherever he goes he would be a positive for any team.

“Honestly, I have no idea what Toto’s plans are but, for me, taking on a youngster would be [the right move].

“If it was my job, my role, I’d probably take on Kimi.”

Hamilton’s comments come after the FIA confirmed to PlanetF1.com during the recent Miami Grand Prix that F1’s governing body has received a special dispensation request to allow Antonelli to race in F1 ahead of his 18th birthday, the point at which emerging racers are eligible to qualify for an F1 superlicence.

Antonelli is due to turn 18 on August 25, the day of the Dutch Grand Prix in what will be the first race after the summer break.

It is thought that Mercedes could seek to place Antonelli at customer team Williams as a replacement for Logan Sargeant, allowing the team to evaluate his performances alongside regular driver Alex Albon before deciding whether to promote him alongside Russell for F1 2025.

Antonelli recently commenced an extensive F1 test program to prepare him for his grand prix debut, driving previous Mercedes cars at Imola and the Red Bull Ring.

The teenager is also believed to have recently participated in a comparison test with reserve driver Mick Schumacher at Silverstone as Mercedes aim to gauge Antonelli’s potential.

Speaking in Miami, however, Wolff denied that helping Antonelli on to the grid during the F1 2024 season is “something that Mercedes wants.”

He added: “These rumours have gotten their own spin. Let’s do Formula 2. We as a team have lots of other issues to resolve.”

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