Lewis Hamilton is currently on a one-year contract with Mercedes. Despite rumours linking him with an exit from the sport, he is keen to continue with the outfit beyond 2021.

However, the Silver Arrows are aware that Hamilton will not be around for a long time. At some point, they will have to start looking out for a replacement in his place.

For a while now, Max Verstappen has been considered a desirable candidate, especially if Red Bull is unable to provide him with a worthy car.

Mercedes team boss, Toto Wolff, however, has revealed that there are several candidates other than the Dutchman who have the potential to make it big.

“You always look at the group of people that could be in a Mercedes in the future,” said Wolff, in an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com’s Italian website. 

“Max is certainly a fantastic star of the future, but he’s not the only one. And I see a group coming up of really good young drivers that are not yet in the machines they need in order to win.

“And in that respect, it’s good to see the way how that pans out.”

What will happen to Valtteri Bottas?

Mercedes is already in the hunt for potential drivers in the event Bottas does not manage to secure a fresh contract.

Wolff has made it clear that he will be giving Bottas the opportunity that he deserves before he decides to take steps further.

“Valtteri stays our driver, and I will be always loyal to both of our drivers, and not dwell about the future,” he said.

“But we all have the obligation to, how can I say it, map out the plans. And in that respect, we have to consider all options for both of the cars.

“As we have two Mercedes juniors with Esteban [Ocon] and George [Russell], they play a certain role.

“And we also are having an eye on the other young guys that are coming up strong. But having said that, today, there’s only two drivers I look up and that is Valtteri and Lewis.”

Hamilton ‘essential’ for team’s success

Wolff also said that he has nothing but praise for Hamilton who has contributed a lot to the outfit since he joined.

“Lewis has been with Mercedes forever,” he said. “He’s an integral part of the team today. He contributes to the team’s performance, and he is the most visible of all the people that work in the team and plays a fundamental part in our success.

“He races the car, he is the last line of attack, with Valtteri. And that’s why he is essential for us today.”

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