Wolff Admits Norris and Leclerc Were Potential Hamilton Replacements

Toto Wolff, the head of Mercedes, hinted at the possibility of the team making a “bold” move in choosing Hamilton’s successor.

Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc committed their futures to McLaren and Ferrari, respectively, by signing new long-term agreements, the specifics of which were not made public.

Speculation had previously positioned both Norris and Leclerc as potential candidates for Mercedes, particularly in the context of Lewis Hamilton’s anticipated departure from the team.

Contrary to expectations of Hamilton retiring, it was later announced that he would be joining Ferrari in 2025, becoming teammates with Leclerc.

Among the names floated as a potential future star for Mercedes is 17-year-old Andrea Kimi Antonelli, who has been impressive in his junior racing career and is seen as a promising talent for the future.

However, Wolff exercised caution when discussing Antonelli’s potential, noting the young driver has yet to make his F2 debut. However, he did acknowledge that Mercedes might have pursued either Norris or Leclerc for a seat on their team had Hamilton’s plans been clarified earlier.

Toto Wolff explained: “When we decided with Lewis to go for a very short-term contract, we knew what we were doing.”

“It was to leave him with options open and at the same time, there’s an exciting situation at the end of 2024 with some drivers becoming available, and others signed [new deals] just a few weeks ago, so these ones would have been opportunities.

“With the timing, if it had been six weeks earlier, there would have been more opportunities, but it is what it is.

“But in 2025 and beyond, the driver market is very interesting, and we need to look to the future, and who is it that we can partner with George.

“What is the best combination, and I think in terms of drivers that could join, there is a variety of options, and at this stage, I wouldn’t want to commit to when we are going to do it as I want to take my time.”