Lewis Hamilton joining Ferrari in 2025 is a bombshell nobody saw coming, especially after the driver and the team rejected the rumours last year.
It was confirmed on Thursday evening that Hamilton will be leaving Mercedes at the end of the 2024 season, to complete a switch to Ferrari after signing a “multi-year” contract.
The seven-time World Champion will replace Carlos Sainz, who is now without a seat for next year.
Mercedes also now have work to do ahead of 2025, as they need to find a suitable candidate to replace the 103-time race winner.
With there being several drivers out of contract at the conclusion of 2024, Mercedes has plenty of options in their search for a new teammate for George Russell
The first – and perhaps most obvious – option is Sainz.
Sainz is a race winner and was the only non-Red Bull driver to be victorious in 2023, at the Singapore Grand Prix.
He is a very talented driver who was praised last year for his consistent results, something Mercedes will need in their new driver as Hamilton was very reliable.
Whilst Sainz perhaps doesn’t have the same raw pace as Hamilton or Russell, he has proven to be an excellent number two driver and could even surprise a few people without the pressure of the Tifosi.
Alex Albon is another driver out of contract at the conclusion of 2024 and is on the wishlist of several teams.
Red Bull and Alpine have both been linked to the Thai driver; however, as he currently drivers for a customer Mercedes team – Williams – a move to Brackley could be on the cards.
At 27 years old, Albon is reaching the peak of his career performance-wise and has proven that he can lead a time.
He scored regular points for Williams in 2023 and was often in Q3, suggesting that in a Mercedes he could compete consistently for big points.
If Mercedes simply want a short-term solution, then Fernando Alonso is arguably the right driver to sign.
The two-time World Champion is out of contract with Aston Martin at the end of 2024, and whilst he’s reportedly keen on staying with the Silverstone-based outfit, he’d likely be foolish to turn down team principal Toto Wolff.
Moving to Mercedes could be Alonso’s final chance at fighting for wins and potentially even a championship, especially if he were to enter the new power unit regulations with them in 2026.
Mercedes might be on the hunt for a short-term driver so they can allow the incredibly talented Kimi Antonelli to grow up a little.
Antonelli is a Mercedes junior driver and is only 17 years old, he’s also the reigning FRECA Champion and is jumping up to Formula 2 this year with PREMA Racing.
He is viewed as the next big thing and the biggest talent since Max Verstappen, so there is a chance that if he performs well in his debut F2 campaign, that Mercedes take a risk and put Antonelli straight into Hamilton’s seat.
McLaren got lucky in 2007 when they put Hamilton straight into the team after winning the 2006 GP2 title, perhaps Mercedes can do the same with Antonelli.