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LEWIS HAMILTON’S succession plan is reportedly already in the works at Mercedes.

Hamilton, 39, has been an ever-present figure on the Formula One grid since 2007, yielding seven titles in the most glittering career ever seen by a driver.

But Mercedes chiefs know Hamilton will not stay in the fast lane forever.

While the Brit signed a mega £100million contract that will take his F1 career into his 40s in the summer, Mercedes has wasted no time in earmarking his potential replacements.

One of these is a name already familiar with F1 and Mercedes in Esteban Ocon.

Gwen Lagrue, head of the Silver Arrows driver programme, revealed to The Race the Alpine driver was still managed by Mercedes.

What motivates Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton - ABC News

 

He said: “He’s still very linked to us. He’s an Alpine driver and he’s fully committed to Alpine, but we’re still managing his career. “We have a very good relationship with Alpine and with others. “And we always try to find the best solution to work together in the best interest of the team and the driver.” The other driver lined up as George Russell’s potential next partner is 17-year-old Andrea Kimi Antonelli. The Mirror suggest that come 2026 Antonelli could be the ideal long-term candidate for a provisional Mercedes seat.

The Mercedes junior driver was afforded the chance to skip F3 and move straight into F2 with Prema for the upcoming 2024 season.

Toto Wolff, who himself signed a new Mercedes contract extension earlier this month, has tipped the Italian to be able to win a seat.

Wolff said: “His track record in karting was already impressive and then he moved up to the junior formulas and won every single season in his rookie year.

“But we have to be careful because there is a lot of hype around Kimi.

Lewis Hamilton: van brutale nieuwkomer naar coureur die zijn sport  overstijgt

 

“Bringing him into F2 is a big step because these cars are heavier and have a lot more power.

“If we give him time and don’t expect him to surpass everything in his first season, I think he can become a great in this sport.

“We’ll see how things go in F2. They have new cars there, which is an advantage for him.

“But there are some great competitors who are contesting their second Formula 2 season this year and are also highly rated.

“He has to show that he is ready for a place in F1. And first, we have to concentrate exclusively on F2.”