Mercedes 'still have connection' with F1 driver tipped to replace Lewis Hamilton

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Mercedes could replace Lewis Hamilton with Esteban Ocon when the seven-time world champion decides to retire from Formula One with the team maintaining a connection to the Frenchman. Ocon was originally a junior driver at the Silver Arrows and his two major moves in F1 were brokered by team boss Toto Wolff, with the German guiding him through the early stages of his career. 

Ocon has enjoyed a solid career in Formula One so far, with the 26-year-old picking up 338 points in 105 race starts, presenting Manor Racing in 2016, Force India and Racing Point between 2017 and 2018 before joining Renault (now Alpine) in 2020. His career highlight undoubtedly came in the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix where he claimed a shock win despite being in a midfield car. 

Much of his career has been strongly intertwined with Wolff and Mercedes having been part of their young driver academy. He even spent a year as the Brackley-based outfit’s test and reserve driver in 2019 as he took a year out from the sport after being dropped for Lance Stroll at Racing Point. The German has had a large say in most of his career moves, helping him remain in the sport despite some setbacks.

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However, the French driver may face some difficulties if he wants to replace Hamilton, should the Brit decide to retire at the end of his contract next year. Ocon’s contract does not run out until the year after meaning Mercedes may look at cheaper free agents rather than buy him out at Alpine. 

Speculation over Hamilton’s replacement will only intensify over the next 12 months if the 37-year-old does not extend his current Mercedes contract. Ocon’s connections should give him a good opportunity of being the man to do so but there remains many hurdles in his way.

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