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Former Mercedes driver picks Hamilton replacement for Wolff

Toto Wolff has numerous options open to him as replacement for Lewis Hamilton. Who will he go for?

Toto Wolff
Article
To news overview © XPBimages

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has been urged to go for youth and select Kimi Antonelli as a replacement for Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton for next season.

At the start of February, Hamilton's decision to activate an escape clause in his Mercedes contract and jump to long-time F1 rival Ferrari sent shockwaves through the sport.

Wolff has insisted he will take his time to fill the vacancy, with the likes of Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso, and Alex Albon all linked, as well as a left-field option in Nico Hulkenberg.

Seventeen-year-old Mercedes junior Antonelli, however, is also in the frame, with many believing he can comfortably make the jump from F2 to F1 and partner George Russell next year.

Nyck de Vries, who served as Mercedes reserve driver in 2021 and who captured the Formula E title with the manufacturer in the same year, feels young Italian Antonelli deserves his shot.

"They (Mercedes) have a great young driver in Kimi Antonelli," said De Vries, speaking to RacingNews365. "Of course, Lewis is a loss because he is a phenomenal driver with an amazing track record, arguably the best driver of the past decade.

"But where a door closes, a new one always opens, and change is not always for the worse. It just happens, and I hope to see that Kimi will get the opportunity because I believe he's very capable. I think he's a great, great driver, very complete."

Past chapter now closed

After being ditched by AlphaTauri last season after just 10 grands prix of his rookie season, De Vries has returned to Formula E where he is competing with Mahindra Racing, dovetailing his campaign with a drive for Toyota in the Hypercar class of the World Endurance Championship.

Following AlphaTauri's morph over the winter into RB, under new leadership with Laurent Mekies, and a new technical direction, De Vries could again reflect on the fact he was never given a full opportunity to prove himself in what was a wretched car last year.

De Vries insisted, however, that "I really don't look at it that way." He added: "I almost see it as like a past chapter and whatever they do now, it doesn't awaken any kind of feelings for me.

"I enjoy watching F1 because I love our sport, and whether they do well or not, I wish them well. I'm still thankful for the opportunity they gave me and I'm now very happy in the series where I was before I went to F1."

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