‘Multiple conversations’ held with F1 star as Lewis Hamilton replacement option emerges – report

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, trackside at Suzuka where the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix took place.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton standing trackside at Suzuka.

Carlos Sainz has been tipped as a strong contender to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes in what would be a straight swap, a history of talks with the team and a good relationship with boss Toto Wolff reported by leading Formula 1 correspondent Lawrence Barretto.

Mercedes face the daunting task of finding the driver to take over from seven-time World Champion Hamilton come 2025, after the bombshell was dropped that Formula 1’s most successful racer will join Ferrari after one final season with Mercedes.

The team will not be short of interested drivers when it comes to picking Hamilton’s successor, though the quality of racer and influence they are losing means they must choose wisely. But, is the ideal option staring them in the face after becoming “collateral damage” in the Hamilton to Ferrari move?

Carlos Sainz an option and on good terms with Mercedes

Sainz may have been the only non-Red Bull grand prix winner of 2023, but it is the Spaniard who will find himself making way for Hamilton’s arrival, with Charles Leclerc recently penning a multi-year contract extension to remain with Ferrari.

And Barretto believes a straight swap is possible for Sainz, who has a “good relationship” with Mercedes team boss and one-third owner Wolff, arguing such a deal would represent a win-win for team and driver.

“Carlos Sainz is the collateral damage to the biggest F1 news story to break in the 21st Century, the Spaniard having arguably been the strongest Ferrari driver during his so far three-year partnership with Charles Leclerc,” Barretto wrote for the Formula 1 website.

“However, he can at least take comfort in the fact that of all the drivers to usurp him, it’s the most decorated driver the sport has ever seen.

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“And he hits the market with his stock riding high, the Spaniard the only non-Red Bull driver to win a grand prix in 2023. Sources say Sainz has a good relationship with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and there have been multiple conversations between his management team and the Silver Arrows over the last few years.

“The equivalent of a straight swap would make sense for both parties.

“Mercedes get a super consistent driver who scores well and whose feedback has been highly-rated by every team he’s ever driven for in F1 – a key tool for a team that has struggled with performance in recent years.

“He has also got on well with every team mate – and there’s no reason to believe that won’t continue with Russell.

“For Sainz, he’ll bounce from one race-contending team to another – and one that has pedigree of winning world championships at a relentless rate in recent times.

“He’ll back himself to perform well against Russell and deliver a run of podiums and wins if the car is up to scratch.”

Sainz to Mercedes is one possibility, though they look set to face competition if they were to pursue his signature, Barretto also naming Williams as a potential suitor, while Sainz has been heavily linked for a while now with Audi, who will join the F1 grid in 2026 in partnership with Sauber.

Read next – Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari: Right decision or wrong timing? Our verdict on F1’s historic move