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And if Hamilton leaves, what plan B for Mercedes?

Rumors abound about the future of Lewis hamilton in Formula 1 after the controversial final in Abu Dhabi, and the media have repeatedly questioned team principal Toto Wolff about the future of the seven-time elite World Champion. The Austrian could not be more reassuring than with the next comment : “I really hope Lewis continues to race because he is the best driver of all time.”

Hamilton has not made any public statement since losing the world title on race director Michael Masi’s decision to break customary protocol at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and ask some laggards to part ways to precipitate a post-race recovery. intervention of the safety car.

The Briton skipped the FIA ​​awards ceremony at the Louvre last Thursday, an absence that is the subject of a Governing Body Investigation because it is a violation of the F1 Sporting Regulations. In contrast, Hamilton appeared at Mercedes factories in Brackley and Brixworth to celebrate the eighth consecutive constructors’ title on Friday, speaking to employees as they said goodbye to Valtteri Bottas. However, nothing he said has been made public.

Y Max verstappen I hope your rival is motivated enough to come back and fight for an eighth world crown, this is not guaranteed to be the case. And if the unthinkable happens, Mercedes will face a headache. All the best drivers have contracts in 2022, so the absence of Hamilton would change the transfer market. We figured Toto Wolff’s phone wouldn’t stop ringing!

And if Hamilton leaves, what plan B for Mercedes?

Esteban Ocon (Alpino)

Among Formula 1 drivers with recent experience without a contract for 2022, it is doubtful that Kimi raikkonen I have the motivation to go back to Formula 1, but Nico Hulkenberg it could surely be a backup plan, even in the short term.

With the relatively young George russell in one of his cars, Mercedes would almost certainly not risk hiring an inexperienced driver alongside him, although his Formula E stars, Nyck de vries Y Stoffel vandoorne, it could easily be called. The All-Star brand would likely be aiming for a safe bet on the current grid, which has experience and speed, leaving them with two clear options.

The first would be to test Alpine to debauchery. Esteban Ocon, former protégé of Mercedes. The Frenchman had a very good season in 2021, getting his first win in Hungary, and he has already done numerous tests for the team before. He was even his reserve rider in 2019. Also, a transfer from Ocon would free up a bucket at Enstone, in which Alpine could immediately place his colt. Oscar Piastri. The Australian’s excellent season in F2, in which he won the title on his first attempt, shows that he has all the talent it takes to shine in F1.

However, Alpine has invested heavily in Ocon and knows how competitive it can be. Also, Norman is likely to be at the center of the team’s future, rather than Fernando Alonso, which will expire at the end of next year, even if you don’t necessarily intend to leave so early. Ultimately, a deal with Ocon seems unlikely.

Valtteri Bottas testing an Alfa Romeo C39 mule car

Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)

The most obvious solution for Mercedes may ultimately be to call the man the team just said goodbye to. Bottas signed a multi-year contract with Alfa Romeo and made his debut with the team at the Abu Dhabi test. The Finn, however, has more Mercedes experience than anyone else and is therefore the most logical choice. Of course, an agreement would have to be reached with Alfa Romeo, whose crew chief Frédéric Vasseur and Toto Wolff are very good friends and have even lived together.

Alfa Romeo could be open to some kind of financial arrangement as an interim solution, and it would be relatively easy to get it back. antonio giovinazzi Despite his contract in Formula E. Giovinazzi is close to Ferrari, Maranello would certainly be delighted if the Italian gets another shot at F1.

Of course, what makes sense in F1 doesn’t always happen, but in the staggering scenario of Hamilton slamming the door, Mercedes would have at least one reasonable solution at its disposal for the 2022 season.

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