Wolff Names Candidates He's Considering If Verstappen Wasn't Available

Wednesday, 27 March 2024 at 21:00
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Mercedes' team principal, Toto Wolff, outlined the main candidates for the second seat alongside George Russell for the 2025 season.
Lewis Hamilton leaving Silver Arrows means the team is losing its key player. Consequently, Wolff said he wanted to take as much time as possible to assess his options.
Recent weeks have revealed that he might even have a chance of getting the triple World Champion Max Verstappen, who is said to not be really happy with what is going on inside Red Bull Racing at the moment.
The team principal recently confirmed that the Flying Dutchman would indeed be his number one option and suggested he expects him to decide within the upcoming weeks.
However, if the 26-year-old decided to stay with Red Bull, the team principal of the German team still had a couple of options on the table. He told Australia’s Fox Sports:

"I think it depends also on what Max does. Then we have a young kid that is very promising and I don't want to put more extra pressure on him, but it looks like he can be one of the great ones."

You might have heard about the "young kid" before. His name is Andrea Kimi Antonelli, and he is currently racing his first year in F2 after skipping F3.
Mercedes's team principal believes in the 17-year-old Italian, but it might be a safer bet to first put him in Williams—just like George Russell at the beginning of his career.

"But we also don’t want to drown him by jumping so quickly in an F1 car at 17. So there are a few options that we play with him."

Wolff then mentioned two Spanish drivers, Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz, who had already been suggested as hot candidates for the Mercedes seat.

"Obviously, there’s Fernando [Alonso] who is very exciting, and Carlos [Sainz] is very good. So there are a few ones. I’m gonna make the play like a bride – difficult to get!"

Interestingly, Esteban Ocon, who is also part of Mercedes Academy and has his contract with Alpine expiring at the end of this season, didn't come to the 52-year-old's mind during the conversation.