Toto Wolff teases ‘unexpected’ Mercedes options to replace Lewis Hamilton

Jamie Woodhouse
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and team boss Toto Wolff

Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff in conversation in the Mercedes garage.

Having been left to deal with Lewis Hamilton’s future move to Ferrari, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is not rushing to find a replacement, believing this bombshell shows “unexpected” driver opportunities could arise.

Mercedes find themselves with unplanned major business to attend to in the Formula 1 driver market, following the shock confirmation that their seven-time World Champion Hamilton will leave the team for Ferrari following the F1 2024 campaign.

Having been with the team since 2013, Hamilton leaves a major void in the team to be filled, as Mercedes search for the perfect replacement to partner George Russell from 2025.

Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari shows Mercedes the ‘unexpected’ can happen

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

Speaking to media including, Wolff was asked to offer an insight on the type of driver which Mercedes may look to as Hamilton’s replacement. Are they looking for experience or will they take a risk on a rookie?

Wolff said such considerations are yet to take place considering the extremely surprising nature of Hamilton’s exit, which F1’s most successful driver informed Wolff of over breakfast on Wednesday morning, but this shock demonstrates that Mercedes may find an unexpected opportunity arises in their favour when looking for Russell’s future team-mate.

“First of all, having George in the team is great for the team,” said Wolff.

“He’s been going toe to toe with Lewis the last two seasons, there was nothing between them. And knowing that we have a driver at that level, makes the decision for the second seat much more comfortable.

“And I haven’t really properly reflected with the team on where we want to go, from rookie to very experienced, because I don’t know yet what is the best for any potential driver that’s coming in, or for the team going forward.

“If you told me two days ago that Lewis would be going to Ferrari, I didn’t think it was possible, so situations and things can change quickly. Contracts are only as good as the driver or the teams want to race. And who knows what’s happening in the driver markets that could be unexpected and opportunities for us.” recommends

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If Mercedes were to go down the rookie route, then they have one of the most exciting young drivers on the planet in their junior ranks in the form of Andrea Kimi Antonelli.

The 17-year-old Italian continued his trophy-collecting ways in 2023, impressing so much that he has gone from Formula Regional European Champion to Formula 2 driver with Prema for 2024, the highest step on the junior ladder.

Antonelli would reach the required age of 18 to race in F1 in time for 2025, but Wolff sees zero value in fuelling speculation that a strong F2 campaign could see him named Hamilton’s successor.

“Kimi’s been with Mercedes since he was 11 and he’s been in the junior programme and his junior career was very successful,” said Wolff.

“I think [what is] most important on that stage is that he concentrates on F2. I think if we start to spin his mind or unleash rumours in the media onto him, that’s not going to help his F2 campaign.

“He’s just stepped out of karts a few years ago and he’s not even 18. So I would rather not start any speculation about Kimi going into Formula 1 at that stage.”

F1 2024 will mark the final opportunity for Hamilton to chase his record eighth World Championship as a Mercedes driver, having won six World titles with the team.

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