Lewis Hamilton will be a Ferrari driver from F1 2025 after signing a multi-year deal with the Scuderia in what will go down as arguably the biggest driver move of all-time.
With the bombshell news now sinking in, it is time to take a look at which drivers could potentially fill the massive shoes left by a driver who has won six Drivers’ Championships with the team and eight Constructors’ titles.
We start with the driver he is replacing at Ferrari…
It would be wrong to look at this list without looking at the driver he would be displacing at Ferrari, with Carlos Sainz having done a sterling job at the Scuderia.
But from Ferrari’s point of view, if the chance to sign the most statistically successful driver in history comes up – even if he is contracted to Mercedes until 2025 – you take it (with a break clause at the end of 2024 confirmed to have been activated by Toto Wolff).
Having beaten Charles Leclerc in their first season together and got pipped to the post by six points last season, with the Spaniard the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race last season and now suddenly a free agent for 2025, he’d be a safe pair of hands to have in the car.
One last big move for Fernando?
If Alonso could shock the F1 paddock by announcing out of the blue he would be departing Alpine for Aston Martin, he’s capable of doing so again by moving to Mercedes.
He gets along well with George Russell (just look at their New Year’s Eve photos together), he would absolutely fill the multiple World Champion void Hamilton would leave and knows as much as anyone about how to get the most out of a car.
Having rebuilt his reputation successfully at Williams and then some, Alex Albon’s name has been bandied around for top teams in 2025, and with a Mercedes seat now free, he’d certainly be a viable candidate.
Having carried Williams almost single-handedly to P7 in the Constructors’ Championship last season, Albon’s performances earned plaudits up and down the paddock, with Christian Horner labelling him “hot property” once again.
Given his closeness in age to Russell, both drivers would look to assert themselves as the number one for the longer-term at Mercedes if they were paired together, though.
Okay, this one might be a bit more far-fetched. But if any seat is going to tempt Seb out of retirement, it’s a competitive one like a works Mercedes.
Like Alonso, if Mercedes want to fill the gap left by a multiple World Champion with another, then Vettel represents another ideal option.
There’s always the risk that he could return to the grid not quite with the same speed he had previously, as was the case with Michael Schumacher when he joined the Silver Arrows, but Vettel would represent a solid bet nonetheless.
Even though Esteban Ocon is racing for Alpine, Mercedes’ Gwen Lagrue recently revealed that the team are still managing his career from afar.
Having come through as a Mercedes junior, he saw himself on the sidelines in 2019 before rejoining the grid with Team Enstone, where he matched up well with Alonso in equal machinery.
With his own deal coming to an end at the end of this season, he would represent an experienced pair of hands who is very well-known within Brackley.
Even though he has his eyes firmly set on a Red Bull seat for 2025, if that door were to shut on him with a Sergio Perez renewal, Daniel Ricciardo would tick the experience box for Mercedes next year.
He would be likely to have more of a fighting chance to jostle for the role of team leader alongside the driver he affectionately calls ‘Russell George’ rather than Max Verstappen, and it could represent another chance to get himself to the front of the grid again.