Lewis Hamilton’s potential Mercedes replacement ‘often in wrong place at wrong time’

Michelle Foster
Mercedes W13 nose cone with rain drops

Mercedes are in the hunt for a new driver for the 2025 season

Max Verstappen is the “ideal candidate” to replace Lewis Hamilton but if Mercedes cannot persuade him to swap teams, Guenther Steiner says they should sign Nico Hulkenberg.

Mercedes’ search for a new driver for the 2025 season continues after the team was left a driver short when Hamilton exercised an option in his contract to leave just one season into his latest two-year deal.

Guenther Steiner: If I were the team boss at Mercedes…

Off to Ferrari having signed a multi-year contract, it’s fair to say Mercedes are not short on candidates to replace him.

From a double World Championship in Fernando Alonso to a rookie in Mercedes junior and Formula 2 driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli, almost every driver without a contract for next season has been linked to the seat. Even some with contracts.

The latter includes Verstappen with Toto Wolff admitting he would “love” to sign the triple World Champion, but first Mercedes need a car that is capable of continuing his success which is not the situation today.

As such, Steiner believes the Brackley squad should turn to his former driver, Hulkenberg.

Although the German holds the record for the most F1 starts without a single podium, for a large part of Hulkenberg’s career he’s been with a midfield team at best.

Despite that, he’s still shown class and doing so again this season with a top-ten qualifying performance in Bahrain before going on to score Haas’ first point of the season in Saudi Arabia.

PlanetF1.com recommends

Ranked: Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes replacements in order of likelihood

F1 2025 driver line-up: Who is already confirmed for the 2025 grid?

“Verstappen would certainly be the ideal candidate for Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff,” Steiner told sport.de.

But if Mercedes cannot sign the 26-year-old, the former team boss turned commentator says if he were the “team boss at Mercedes, I wouldn’t say no to Nico Hülkenberg either.

“When you see what he did again at the weekend [in Saudi Arabia], it was very cool.”

Steiner, who knows Hulkenberg well and brought him into the Haas fold last season, added: “Nico is a good driver. He was often underestimated and he was usually in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“Maybe,” he added, “he’ll be in the right place at the right time.”

Hulkenberg’s Haas contract expires at the end of this season with the German admitting to Auto Motor und Sport earlier this year that he’d jump at the opportunity to race for Mercedes.

“It keeps shifting,” he said of F1’s silly season. “It will be some interesting months. An interesting cockpit is opening up Hamilton].

“Every driver wants to be in the best possible car. That’s why you want to position yourself as well as possible. Of course, a lot depends on what the car allows and how you can put yourself in the shop window.”

Follow PlanetF1.com’s WhatsApp channel for all the F1 breaking news!