Norris and Leclerc escaped Mercedes

Author of the article: , published on February 2, 2024.

Lewis Hamilton's sudden decision to leave the Mercedes team at the end of this season came at a rather inauspicious moment for the German team, as the Briton announced his departure just days after Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc signed new contracts with their teams, which would certainly be a tempting candidate for the vacant seat.

Toto Wolff is thus faced with a difficult task, as there is little time to choose a replacement, and there are also fewer candidates. "We have a good foundation, a fast and talented, smart driver in George Russell, now we just have to choose the right driver for the second seat," said Wolff, who revealed that they would not rush the choice, but admitted that Norris and Leclerc would be it would be interesting for him in this situation if she did not sign the contracts and hinted that the example of Lewis shows that even signed contracts in F1 do not mean that transfers are not possible.

"It would be an interesting choice, but the timeline ran us over a bit. If you had told me two days ago that Lewis would go to Ferrari, I would have thought that it was not possible, which shows that things change quickly. Contracts are only valid for as long as the racer or the team wants. Who knows what unexpected things will happen in the racing market, which could be a good opportunity for us."

With Hamilton's transfer to Ferrari, Carlos Sainz will have to leave Maranello. The Spaniard is said to be making arrangements for cooperation with Audi (this year still under the name Stake F1), but in the given situation it would be very tempting for him even for now to have a free seat at Mercedes, as he would have one of the best racing cars in his hands, which in last year's season was often too hard for his Ferrari.

Another possibility is Sainz's return to Red Bull instead of Sergio Perez, for whom this season will be a turning point, as he will have to convince the leading men that he deserves a contract extension. The Mexican, if he is overshadowed by his teammate Max Verstappen again this year, could land at Mercedes in 2024, where he would bring with him perhaps important information about the secrets that make Red Bull's racing cars invincible. Of course, according to Wolff, some other combinations are also possible, so they can be bold when choosing. "In a way, I like changes, because they open up new possibilities," he said. "This is how we faced Rosberg's departure at the end of 2016, which was also sudden and unexpected. I look forward to the opportunity to make the right decision with my colleagues. We have the opportunity to be bold in our choices.”

Wolff's words could mean many things. From the capture of an experienced driver like Fernando Alonso, to a retired experienced driver like Sebastian Vettel, to the rapid progression of the young driver of the Mercedes Academy, Adree Kimi Antonelli, who will represent the colors of the Prema Racing team in F2 this year.

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