Mercedes has already found Hamilton’s replacement

Mercedes has already found Hamilton's replacement

The Mercedes driver development chief claims that plans have already been made for Lewis Hamilton’s successor as the lead team driver.

The eight-time world champion is in the last year of his current deal with the Silver Arrows. Both parties have officially stated their goal to sign an extension, but it has not yet happened.

In the meantime, rumours claim that Ferrari is in the process of offering the British driver an offer in an effort to convince him to join them.

Hamilton is nearing the end of his F1 career, no matter what he decides to pursue. Mercedes will therefore face the difficult task of figuring out how to replace him sooner or later.

The team feels it has handled that from a leadership perspective already. George Russell has already demonstrated the abilities needed to lead the team into the future when Hamilton ultimately quits, according to Gwen Lagrue, director of the Mercedes driver development program.

“You always know that when you have the car to win, not before,” Largue said in an interview with AutoHebdo. “Nevertheless, what I have observed is that each time [Russell] has had a window of opportunity, he has managed to do something transformative.

“That’s very reassuring. If we are able to give him the car, he will do the right thing. If the question is, ‘Do we see in George a successor to Lewis to win races and fight for a title?’ The answer is clear – yes.”

How true the assertion that Ferrari has prepared a £40 million contract offer for Hamilton will turn out remains to be seen. It’s safe to say that his boss Toto Wolff has heard it all before and is not persuaded that the allegations have ever included any fact.

“These rumours come up every two years when we have to sign a new contract,” Wolf said in a recent interview with Austrian publication Osterreich. “But none of this is true.

“We discuss normally, without any time pressure… I’m firmly convinced that we’ll find each other, there’s not a millimetre of doubt for me.

“I can’t imagine anything else… If we give Lewis a competitive car, he will win for a long time… Look at Tom Brady and what he was still capable of in his 40s.”

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