Lewis Hamilton could be replaced by Daniel Ricciardo as Mercedes reportedly consider a shock move for the Australian driver.
According to the Daily Mail, Mercedes see Ricciardo as a potential long-term replacement for Hamilton, with the seven-time world champion's contract only running until the end of the 2023 season. Following the news of his exit from McLaren, Ricciardo is currently without a team for next season, with Mercedes plotting to sign him as a reserve driver.
He would then be installed as George Russell's teammate for the 2024 season should Hamilton chose to retire at the end of next year.
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Hamilton has yet to confirm his plans beyond the end of next season, which will end just weeks before he turns 39. However, he has made it clear that he will be the one to decide when his career ends, not anyone else.
Meanwhile, Ricciardo's future remains unclear after he was axed by McLaren due to his poor form on the track this season. The 33-year-old will leave the constructor at the end of this season and be replaced by two-time Formula Two champions Oscar Piastri.
With Ricciardo set to be without a team in 2023, Mercedes are understood to be prepared to equip themselves ahead of time in the event that Hamilton walks away from the sport.
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The report also quotes a source, who explains: “Mercedes are thinking about Ricciardo to cover off the possibility of (Hamilton) walking away at the end of next season.
“Having Daniel in their camp means they wouldn't be left high and dry. It would also mean George would be the main man from that point in 2024.”
Ricciardo himself is said to be "pretty open-minded to any scenario" ahead of his exit from McLaren, having also been linked with joining Haas for the 2023 season.
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