Mercedes has already lined up their potential replacement driver if Lewis Hamilton decides to never come back in Formula 1.
Ever since the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix got over with its controversial end, Lewis Hamilton hasn’t appeared in the public eye. Except for his knighthood ceremony in the UK.
But Hamilton has been specifically absent from his usual social life and have not engaged with a single F1 media outlet. This silence by the seven-time world champion has stemmed the speculations of his retirement ahead of the 2022 season.
And if Hamilton genuinely decides to retire, Mercedes would be in a major problem to replace him. Hamilton is a world-class driver, and finding a suitable replacement will not be easy.
Moreover, adding George Russell recently into the outfit, Mercedes would not want to have two new drivers going ahead of the 2022 season, which already burdens the team with several reforms.
Nevertheless, Mercedes seems to prepare itself for the crisis. According to Autosport Russia journalist Ivan Belikov, Mercedes has already lined up a replacement for the Briton, which is reportedly Esteban Ocon.
Веселье продолжается! По слухам, запасной план Mercedes в случае, если Хэмилтон откажется от участия в сезоне-2022, – приглашение Окона
— Ivan Belikov (@Belikov_F1) January 12, 2022
Why Esteban Ocon for Mercedes makes sense?
Like Russell, Ocon is also a part of the Mercedes drivers’ development programme. Also, he is represented by Toto Wolff, who played a crucial role in his move to Alpine in 2020.
Moreover, when Racing Point snubbed Ocon, now Aston Martin. Then the Frenchman became the reserve driver for Mercedes, so he knows how the whole setup works.
Additionally, if Ocon moves to Mercedes, Alpine would promote Oscar Piastri- the 2021 F2 champion, as a starting driver. Therefore, it will be a win-win scenario on all fronts.
However, Ocon may never manage to pull the half of Hamilton’s calibre. He is still good enough to solve the problem if Hamilton decides to retire just a few weeks before the new season.