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Lewis Hamilton could leave Mercedes in the lurch as Toto Wolff’s plans ruined

Lewis Hamilton seemingly holds all the cards in his contract negotiations, as the Mercedes driver’s current deal expires at the end of the season and Toto Wolff’s potential back-up plan is not progressing as he would have hoped. The seven-time world champion has reiterated his desire to remain with the Silver Arrows long-term, but until pen has been put to paper then his future remains undecided – with few remaining options for his employers.

Dutch F1 pundit and Touring Car star Tom Coronel previously claimed that Nyck de Vries was Wolff’s “insurance policy” if Hamilton were to leave the tram. He told RacingNews365: “If Lewis Hamilton stops, Nyck de Vries will get the seat. Do you know why? As I’ve been saying for a year, Nyck is Toto Wolff’s insurance policy.

“I don’t want to say he ‘uses’ Nyck, but that’s why he keeps him close to him. This is a boy who is doing everything he should have done. He has won all the championships he should have won. If you look at his track record and if you see what he’s still doing now, Nyck never lacked anything compared to the other drivers.”

Shortly after, Wolff said he would “not understand the world” if De Vries was not snapped up by a top team. However, the 28-year-old has had a disastrous start to the season with AlphaTauri having failed to pick up a single point and reportedly has just three races to salvage his seat, with the likes of Daniel Ricciardo and Mick Schumacher potentially eyeing up his spot.

It is therefore extremely unlikely that Wolff still considers De Vries as a capable replacement for Hamilton if they were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension. Other potential candidates to take over from Hamilton may be Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris, but both may be difficult to land.

Wolff admitted that Leclerc was on his “radar” as a long-term option, but the Ferrari star has since rubbished links to Mercedes. When asked if he had spoken to the Silver Arrows, he bluntly replied: “No, not yet, not for the moment.

“For now, I am fully focused on the project I am in today, which is Ferrari. I fully trust and I am confident for the future, then we will see, but I am fully confident for the project of Ferrari.”

Leclerc appears fully committed to Ferrari, ruling him out of a move elsewhere while Norris signed an £80million deal with McLaren to keep him at the team until the end of 2025 with no exit clauses – ensuring that bringing Norris to Mercedes would prove to be a very expensive operation.

Hamilton will be aware that the team have few options to replace him, thus holding all the power in negotiations as if he does retire or fails to sign a new contract then Mercedes could be left in the lurch. That is a huge bargaining chip as talks remain ongoing.

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