F1 2024 grid with Ferrari eyeing Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes needing replacement
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The Formula One grid could look very different in 2024 if Lewis Hamilton chooses to leave Mercedes in order to join Ferrari, with the Scuderia reportedly exploring the idea of making a move for the 38-year-old before the end of this year. Hamilton, who will become a free agent before the start of next season as things stand, is widely expected to agree a new deal with the Silver Arrows but is yet to sign on the dotted line after weeks of negotiations behind closed doors.
Ferrari are thought to be monitoring the situation closely and have even drawn up plans to offer Hamilton a blockbuster £40million deal in advance of next year, according to the Daily Mail. This would bring an end to the decade-long partnership between Hamilton and Mercedes, who would then be forced to find a suitable replacement for the Brit in time for the start of the 2024 campaign.
Hamilton would reportedly be racing alongside Charles Leclerc if he joins Ferrari, with the Italian outfit prepared to offload Carlos Sainz in order to make room for the current Mercedes star to join their ranks. The iconic nature of the team is said to appeal to Hamilton, although he is yet to make a firm decision over whether or not to jump ship next year in search of a record-breaking eighth world title.
It remains to be seen who Mercedes would target to succeed Hamilton from 2024 onwards but it would not be a surprise to see them pursue a move for Lando Norris despite him being under contract at McLaren until the end of 2025. This would see Mercedes needing to buy Norris out of his existing deal, which could prove challenging given the absence of a break clause, but there is every chance that McLaren’s recent struggles could tempt him into pushing for a change of scenery if the opportunity arises.
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A move to Mercedes for Norris would then leave McLaren in need of another driver, which they could get in the form of Sainz if he is pushed out of Ferrari to make way for Hamilton. The Spaniard raced for McLaren for two seasons in 2019 and 2020 and left amicably when he was sounded out by Ferrari to succeed Sebastian Vettel, which suggests that a return to Woking for Sainz could be an option to suit both parties ahead of next year.
However, it seems likely that the 28-year-old may decide to hold out for another vacancy closer to the front of the grid unless he can be convinced that McLaren are back on the right path after a dramatic fall from grace over the last few months. Alfa Romeo could present another choice for Sainz if Zhou Guanyu’s contract is not renewed before the end of the current season, while both drivers at Haas and AlphaTauri will also see their existing deals run out prior to the start of 2024.
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The likes of Red Bull, Aston Martin and Alpine are unlikely to change their respective driver line-ups between now and next year, with all of their racers still tied down for the foreseeable future as things stand. It remains to be seen how much collateral damage would be done to the rest of the grid if Hamilton joins Ferrari over the coming months, though, with the move set to spark a chain reaction if it goes ahead as other seats become available throughout the F1 paddock.
Hamilton was recently warned by Johnny Herbert that Ferrari would be the best environment for him to stand the best chance of winning another Drivers’ Championship title before the end of his career, with the 58-year-old telling Sky Sports: “The red car makes the most sense. The motivation for the eighth is still there.
“It has to have the right ingredients, like he did when he went from McLaren to Mercedes when a number of people, including myself, thought he was mad to do it. What Niki Lauda and Ross Brawn were able to present to him [about Mercedes] excited him, that’s why he went. Ferrari have got to do a similarly big selling job.”
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