Mercedes has been advised to consider Lando Norris as a future replacement for Lewis Hamilton. The current contract of the seven-time world champion is set to expire at the end of this year and although it is believed he will sign an extension, there has been no official announcement.
Even if Hamilton does extend his stay at the Silver Arrows, he is no longer a long-term solution for Mercedes as he is entering the twilight stages of his Formula 1 career.
At some point, the team must prepare for a future without Hamilton and find a suitable replacement.
Former Formula 1 driver Karun Chandhok believes that the answer to who should partner George Russell is clear.
According to Chandhok, Mercedes need not look further than McLaren’s rising star, Lando Norris.
“Where is [Norris] going to go, is the question,” Chandhok said.
“The reality is, I can’t see him going to Red Bull to be a number two to Max, Ferrari have their two drivers locked out. So his options are to go to Mercedes when Lewis Hamilton stops because George isn’t going anywhere.
“He can stay at McLaren I think until that happens basically. I think McLaren can safely hold onto him until that happens.
“But, let’s say we get to the end of this year and Lewis suddenly decides ‘I’ve had enough, I’m gone’.
“Then I feel like it’s going to be quite a complicated process because, no doubt about it, Lando has got to be the number one pick – he’s got to be Mercedes’ number one pick to replace Lewis.”
Will Mercedes buy out Norris’ contract at McLaren?
Norris currently has a deal at McLaren which will see him at the team till 2025.
Chandhok credited Zak Brown for this ‘brilliant’ piece of business, but issued a word of caution with respect to the deal being honoured.
The F1 pundit claimed that Mercedes could realistically come in and buy Norris’ contract out.
“We all know that people can be bought out of contracts and they get bought out all the time,” Chandhok said.
“Look at [Pierre] Gasly. It happens all the time but it’s going to cost more. It’s going to be tricky.”