Lewis Hamilton, one of the greatest drivers Britain has ever produced, won his sixth world title in 2019; he is now just one short of equaling Michael Schumacher’s record of seven. Hamilton has achieved pretty much everything there is to achieve in the sport, and he recently spoke of how he intends to remain in the Mercedes garage even after retirement.
The 34-year-old Brit is entering his final years as a driver. His will might be strong but sooner or later his body will start to give up, and Hamilton will have to retire.
So what lies ahead for Mercedes when Hamilton retires? There are quite a few intriguing possibilities.
Will Bottas be promoted to the No. 1 driver?
Valtteri Bottas made a strong a comeback in 2019 but as Toto Wolff put it, his performance ‘slipped’ later in the season. That said, Bottas does have the ability to keep bringing the championship to the Silver Arrows' garage.
Bottas has been retained for the 2020 season, and things could get better for him in the future. He has put in some memorable drives already and at one stage he almost got ahead of Hamilton in the points table.
Bottas has not expressed a wish to move to any other team in Formula One. So assuming he would be with Mercedes at the time of Hamilton’s retirement, Mercedes may promote him to the No. 1 driving spot.
Will new talent from Formula Two step in?
Recently we have seen many new faces from Formula Two coming into Formula One. Lando Norris, George Russell, Charles Leclerc and Alex Albon have all been driving for top Formula One teams, while Nicholas Latifi has been giving tryouts with Williams F1 in practice sessions.
There is a huge pool of talented drivers present in Formula Two, and the Silver Arrows could well gamble on new talent like Ferrari did with Leclerc. Of course, that's not a foolproof strategy; it could either go in their favor or backfire spectacularly.
But it is a chance worth taking.
Will Mercedes get an experienced driver from the grid?
Max Verstappen, Carlo Sainz, Lando Norris, Alex Albon - all these drivers will be fairly experienced by the time Hamilton retires. They have shown some great performances behind the wheel in Formula One already, and with more maturity on their shoulders they are bound to get even better.
Mercedes will probably look to give a chance to an experienced driver from the grid for the role of the second driver.
It is hard to imagine what will happen after the retirement of Hamilton, but one thing is for sure: we won’t be seeing the same guy winning the driver’s championship almost every year. It is up to Mercedes how they prepare for that eventuality.Published 02 Dec 2019, 16:58 IST