Ralf Schumacher has earmarked Sebastian Vettel as a possible replacement for Lewis Hamilton, should the seven-time Formula 1 World Champion choose not to return to F1 in 2022.
Hamilton's participation in the 2022 season is not yet fully certain, as Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff couldn't guarantee his return in the wake of the contentious Abu Dhabi Grand Prix title decider at the end of 2021.
Hamilton lost the title within sight of the chequered flag after a controversial call to resume racing on the final lap following a Safety Car intervention.
In the event that Hamilton does not return, former Grand Prix winner Schumacher winner reckons Mercedes should target four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel, who is currently driving for Mercedes customer team Aston Martin.
"The experience that Sebastian has, the speed that he has, continues to be there," Schumacher said in an interview with Sky Sport Germany.
"And above all, he knows his way around the Mercedes car – and with the engine. And I think the Aston Martin concept is also very close."
"Vettel would take the opportunity, 100 percent"
Acknowledging the recent departure of Aston Martin team boss Otmar Szafnauer, Schumacher said that losing a close ally at the top of the squad's management could mean Vettel's head would be turned if Mercedes came knocking.
"That would be a possibility, especially since a personnel change has now also taken place at Aston Martin that may not be quite as ideal for Sebastian," he said.
"Because I think he and Otmar Szafnauer – that was a good team."
Schumacher believes that Vettel wouldn't hesitate at the opportunity, should he be approached.
"If he had the opportunity to get into this team, of course, he would take it one hundred percent, because [it's] a better chance to race again – that's what Sebastian wants. He wants to win races, he showed that too," Schumacher said.
But Schumacher pointed out that it's just his proposal, as there's no guarantee that the seat might become available.
"Lewis Hamilton has not left," he said. "And Toto Wolff has some other talents up his sleeve."
F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Thomas Maher and Mike Seymour weigh up the possibility that Lewis Hamilton might leave F1 behind, as well as analysing what might be uncovered during the FIA investigation into the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.