Toto Wolff talks about a potential replacement of Lewis Hamilton in F1 2025, as he doesn’t want to pressure Andrea Kimi Antonelli.
After the bombshell news of Hamilton leaving Mercedes for Ferrari in F1 2025, the former are in a situation to hire a new driver alongside George Russell. They do have time and plenty of options to choose from, whether from its own stable and or outside.
There are already names in the fray even if Wolff did hint about the likes of Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc having tied down to new contracts before Hamilton’s news. But outside these, the Austrian does have plethora of options which includes Carlos Sainz.
Other names that have come up are Valtteri Bottas, Alexander Albon, Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly and even Mercedes junior Antonelli. There won’t be shortage of names certainly, but the selection will be key for the future of the German F1 team.
Anyone coming in will know Russell to be the unofficial #1 considering the time he has spent with Mercedes. Outside the regulars, Wolff doesn’t want to burden Antonelli just yet, who will make his F2 debut by jumping from FRECA and skipping F3.
Options for 2025 –
Wolff: “First, our main focus is on the 2024 season now. We’ve two excellent drivers. We have Lewis in his final year at Mercedes and George eager to go back in the car and perform. We need to put a car on the track that has more pace than last year’s car, and we know how difficult it will be to compete not only with Red Bull but possibly the other ones. As, of course, all the Lewis discussion, something that has not been talked enough is George. George has the potential to be the next lead driver in the team. He’s of the generation of Lando and Leclerc and some of the others.
“I couldn’t wish for a new team leader when Lewis leaves. No doubt about that. We’ve such a solid foundation, such a quick and talented and intelligent guy in a car that we just need to take the right choice for the second driver, the second seat. It’s not something I want to be rushed to. I guess that a few contracts have been signed a few weeks ago that we would have looked at. That would have been interesting, but the timing here bit us a bit.
“Almost, in a way, I always like change because change provides you with opportunity. And in the same way we’ve embraced the Nico situation, and that was equally like from one moment to the other unexpected, I’m really looking forward to taking the right decisions for the team together with my colleagues and who’s going to be in the seat next year? And maybe it’s a chance to do something bold.”
What kind of driver your need –
Wolff: “First of all, having George in that seat is great for the team. 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 was going to Ferrari, I didn’t think it was possible. So, situations and things can change quickly. Contracts are only as good as [long 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.”
No Antonelli –
Wolff: “Kimi has been with Mercedes since he was 11. And he’s been in the junior programme. And his junior career was very successful. I think most important at this stage is that he concentrates on F2, I think if we start to spin his mind or unleash rumours in the media on to 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 One at that stage.”
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