Former Formula 1 driver Karun Chandhok has recently suggested that current McLaren driver Lando Norris could be a potential replacement for Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes when the seven-time world champion decides to retire. However, according to Chandhok, Toto Wolff, the team boss at Mercedes, may face difficulties in signing the young driver before his contract with McLaren comes to an end in 2025.
At present, Hamilton has not signed a new contract with the Silver Arrows, despite initial talks with Wolff. If Hamilton decides to retire, Chandhok believes that Norris would be the perfect replacement alongside George Russell.
“Let’s say Lewis does decide halfway through this year ‘you know what, we’re not going anywhere, it’s not enough for me to win the championship’ and he decides to stop. Lando is the number one pick. I would imagine he would be the number one pick for Toto and Mercedes,” said Chandhok in a recent interview with Sky Sports F1’s Vodcast.
Despite Norris previously holding talks with Red Bull boss Christian Horner before signing his current deal with McLaren, it is not impossible for him to consider talks with the successful Mercedes team in the future.
During pre-season testing, Norris appeared frustrated as the team struggled to adapt to their new car. Journalist Will Buxton admitted to having seen the driver punch a wall out of frustration.
To extract Norris from McLaren, it would take a significant amount of money, considering he was paid £80 million to stay with the team. “For him to be extracted out of the McLaren contract is going to cost Toto and Mercedes. Whereas if he was a free agent at the end of this year it would be a free deal. It’s harder,” Chandhok commented.
Chandhok is unsure as to why a driver would put up such a barrier. “As a driver, I’m not sure why you would put up that barrier. Because let’s say Leclerc decides I’ve had enough of the Ferrari stuff, I fancy a Mercedes seat’. Suddenly it’s like I have to pay five million for Lando, five million for Leclerc, that suddenly becomes a decision. Whereas if you’re paying zero for one and five for the other. He’s giving himself less options.”
In conclusion, while Lando Norris may be a prime candidate to replace Hamilton at Mercedes, it remains to be seen whether Toto Wolff can convince him to leave McLaren before his contract expires.