Should Lewis Hamilton opt to leave Mercedes at the end of the season, Charles Leclerc looks to be their current “insurance policy” choice, according to Sky Sports’ Ted Kravitz.
Hamilton has been linked in recent days with a possible move to Ferrari for 2024, with the seven-time World Champion’s current Mercedes deal due to expire at the end of this season.
But if such a move takes place or Hamilton opts to walk away from the sport entirely, Mercedes would suddenly have a seat to fill – and the Sky Sports pit-lane reporter believes the current Ferrari driver would top the bill for them.
Team principal Toto Wolff, after all, confirmed recently that Leclerc is on Mercedes ‘radar’ in the long-term, and the drivers currently in their junior stable are not yet ready to step up to the top tier.
“I mean, Mercedes need an insurance policy if Lewis decides to either stop or leave,” Kravitz said on the Sky Sports F1 podcast, “and at the moment, that policy looks like Charles Leclerc, until they wait for their juniors – Kimi Antonelli, who looks like is going to be a champion of the future, is a Mercedes junior.”
Hamilton and Mercedes have maintained their commitment to signing a new contract beyond the end of this season to extend their decade-long association with each other, but their uncompetitive start to 2023 by their high standards has brought about significant changes to the W14.
They will be bringing a big upgrade package with them to this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix in the hope of sparking an improvement in performance, and Sky Sports F1 presenter Simon Lazenby added his belief that Hamilton will remain committed to the Mercedes cause, given how much work has already gone into trying to improve.
“I think he’s going to stay at Mercedes for as long as the team keeps doing what he feels is enough to challenge,” Lazenby said.
“Because I think there is a loyalty there and I think there’s an underlying respect for Toto and for everything he’s trying to do.
“But I think it is a team in transition. It’s a little bit like what [Jurgen] Klopp’s been trying to do with Liverpool this year. It’s about reshuffling the pack, bringing in a few new people and making sure that you’ve got the team around you to go into battle.
“I think getting James Allison back into the trenches was a good decision, because he seems to be character wise, and even he said it, Mike Elliott, he’s an ideas man.
“He’s one for the future of Mercedes and concepts and everything, whereas I think James is one who just likes to roll up his sleeves, get in there, and even if he can make a small difference on a weekend, it matters to him – a tenth here, a tenth there on setup and whatever they can do.
“So I think that was a smart decision, and let’s see if that pays off going forward.”