Formula 1: Shock replacement candidate emerging for Lewis Hamilton?

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images) /

If Lewis Hamilton opts to retire from Formula 1 before the 2022 season, Mercedes could turn to a shocking replacement alongside George Russell.

After watching what would have been a record-breaking eighth Formula 1 world championship slip away on the final lap of the 22nd and final race of the 2021 season during a controversial one-lap shootout, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has remained silent.

He did speak to Sky Sports after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which he ultimately finished behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, but since that Sunday, December 12 at Yas Marina Circuit, he has not addressed the public.

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In fact, his most recent posts on social media are pictures he shared after the qualifying session the day before.

Amid his silence, there is mounting uncertainty surrounding Hamilton’s future in Formula 1.

While he signed a two-year contract extension to continue driving for the Silver Arrows through the 2023 season this past summer, there are rumors that Hamilton will retire from the sport after what happened in Abu Dhabi last month.

Some sources have indicated that Hamilton intends to return, while others have indicated that this really could be it for him, which would leave Mercedes needing to hire a second new driver for 2022.

Bottom line, until something official comes out from him or the team, nobody really knows anything for sure.

So what if he does walk away? Who would replace him?

Mercedes have already signed former Williams driver George Russell to replace the Alfa Romeo-bound Valtteri Bottas for 2022.

But now a shocking name has been linked to Mercedes as a potential replacement for Hamilton if he does indeed quit before the upcoming season: Pierre Gasly.

After an impressive season with Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) in 2018, he was promoted to Red Bull in 2019, but he struggled mightily and found himself back at the Red Bull sister team before the season ended.

But since that demotion, he has been exceptionally strong with AlphaTauri. He secured his first career podium finish in the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, and he won the 2020 Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

After adding another podium finish in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix at Baku, he finished the 2021 season in a career-high ninth place in the driver standings with an average starting position of 7.3 and an average finishing position of 9.4.

Notably, all of the eight drivers ahead of him in the standings competed for the top four teams in the constructor standings, while AlphaTauri finished in sixth as opposed to fifth.

Gasly still has his sights on landing another opportunity with a top team, presumably Red Bull in 2023, after his disappointing short stint with the Milton Keynes-based team in 2019. But if Mercedes come calling for 2022 (or even for 2023, if Hamilton opts to run just one more season), would he be able to turn them down?

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While there are several other candidates who would make more sense, the fact that “discussions” are being reported at this stage in the game makes it worth monitoring. This would certainly be a way for the Silver Arrows to potentially land a big blow to their rivals, which makes the possibility a bit more interesting.