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Alonso and Sainz on Mercedes shortlist, says Toto Wolff

Mercedes are considering several drivers to replace Lewis Hamilton in 2025, confirms team principal Toto Wolff. The 52-year-old insists that an informed decision must be made at the Silver Arrows without being rushed. However, the F1 driver market will likely force Mercedes to be vigilant about any surprises.

In terms of on-track performance, Mercedes has little to celebrate. The German constructor is barely fourth in the standings, well behind Red Bull and Ferrari – claiming race victories in 2024.

Of greater concern than their points total is the W15 itself. As it stands, the team’s 2024 challenger is falling well short of expectations. Whilst the RB20 was always seen as the clear benchmark in pre-season, James Allison was confident that Mercedes could challenge.

Three rounds later, the Silver Arrows lost ground to Red Bull, Ferrari, and McLaren over the last twelve months.

With this in mind, team principal Toto Wolff might welcome conversations centred around the driver market. At least in these discussions, more focus is paid to the team’s prestige and potential for 2026, as opposed to its current decline.

Speaking on this issue, the Austrian manager has mentioned Max Verstappen as a desirable target on multiple occasions. Red Bull’s instability is seen as a potential opening to sign the three-time World Champion.

However,  unlike Verstappen, there are other drivers on the market without contracts for 2025. Among these are Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz, who are attractive options in their own right.

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Sainz, Alonso and Antonelli seen as obvious candidates

When asked about the chances of Kimi Antonelli joining the team next season, Wolff navigated a fine line between praising the youngster and managing expectations:

“We have a young kid [Kimi Antonelli] that is very promising,” he told Fox Sports Australia.

“I don’t want to put extra pressure on him, but it looks like he can be one of the great ones.

“But we also don’t want to drown him jumping so quickly in an F1 car. He’s 17.

“There are a few options that we could play with. Obviously there’s Fernando who is very exciting. Carlos [Sainz is also] very good, so there are a few ones.”

As ever, making predictions about the F1 driver market is risky. There are some changes in the market, such as Hulkenberg joining Sauber, which are seen as relatively likely. However, the next step at Mercedes is seen as significantly more unpredictable.

In addition, if the Silver Arrows cannot elevate their performance, other teams (such as Aston Martin) might become more attractive prospects. After all, someone like Carlos Sainz might prefer to join a team without a young prodigy like Antonelli waiting in the wings.

Still, things can change quickly in Formula 1, so updates on this issue must be followed closely.

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