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Five contenders to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes if he retires, from Norris joining Russell to shock Bottas return

LEWIS HAMILTON’s continued silence since the controversial end to the F1 season at the Abu Dhabi GP has sparked fresh speculation the Brit could quit. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said his star driver was ‘disillusioned’ with how the race was ended as Max Verstappen’s victory saw him crowned world champion. Hamilton claimed the result was […] ...

LEWIS HAMILTON’s continued silence since the controversial end to the F1 season at the Abu Dhabi GP has sparked fresh speculation the Brit could quit.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said his star driver was ‘disillusioned’ with how the race was ended as Max Verstappen’s victory saw him crowned world champion.

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Lewis Hamilton has so far remained tight-lipped on his future[/caption]

Hamilton claimed the result was manipulated as race director Michael Masi did not follow the correct rules with regards to the safety car.

Here SunSport looks at the potential replacements IF Hamilton does decide to quit F1.

LANDO NORRIS

The standout performer last year behind Hamilton and Verstappen.

The Brit has a very bright future in F1 and would jump at the chance to join George Russell at Mercedes, as the two are mates.

However, Norris has only just signed a new deal with McLaren, who would be unwilling to allow him to jump ship without some compensation from Mercedes.

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Lando Norris recently signed a new deal with McLaren[/caption]

ESTEBAN OCON

The Frenchman was a Mercedes junior driver, like Russell, but still has close links with Wolff.

Like Norris, he is under contract with Alpine, but would also look to get back in the Silver Arrows.

Ocon’s advantage is that he knows the team and they know him, so they would be up to speed quickly.

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Esteban Ocon is a former Mercedes junior driver[/caption]

NICO HULKENBERG

The German has plenty of F1 experience after stints with Renault and Force India and has proved to be the ideal super-sub.

Hulkenberg filled in when Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll both tested positive for Covid in 2020.

Last year he was reserve and development driver for the Aston Martin F1 team but unlike Ocon and Norris, he would be a free agent to sign.

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Nico Hulkenberg had stints at Renault and Force India[/caption]

NYCK DE VRIES

Mercedes’ Formula E world champion has bucket loads of ability but was unable to find a seat in F1 after winning the F2 title in 2019.

He has proved excellent in FE but has always longed for an opportunity to race in F1.

The Dutchman, 26, has noticeably been attending more GPs with Mercedes and would be the smartest option as he’s already on the payroll.

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Nyck de Vries drives for Mercedes’ Formula E team[/caption]

VALTTERI BOTTAS

Long shot, but no driver knows Mercedes better than the Finn, who has now joined Alfa Romeo.

He’s moved on but, without the prospect of going up against Hamilton, he could be tempted for a return with a crack at winning the title.

He left on good terms and would also presumably be a good teammate for Russell, but would Merc take a step backwards?

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Valtteri Bottas has been Hamilton’s team-mate since 2017[/caption]

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