Five Lewis Hamilton replacements for Mercedes as F1 team plan for life without Brit including Max Verstappen

IF Lewis Hamilton's new contract taught us anything, it is that Mercedes are already planning for life without him behind the wheel.

An admirable partnership has been inserted into his 10-month deal that will help his and Merc's push for greater diversity in motorsport.

It also has all the hallmarks of Hamilton feathering his nest for life after F1 when he is no longer challenging for titles.

He will be 37 six days after his latest deal expires, which could also be his last, so who would Mercedes replace him with?

Here SunSport looks at five potential candidates.

Max Verstappen

The Dutchman would be top of Mercedes' wish list and the obvious pick to replace the current world champion.

We know Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has checked on Verstappen's availability in the past only to come up against a determined Red Bull, who have quickly shut down the chances for Verstappen to jump ship.

Supremely quick and ruthless when required, Verstappen has now cut out the mistakes and is currently the next best thing to Hamilton.

George Russell

A ready-made replacement for his countryman, Russell has been part of the team for years as a reserve and test driver. He knows all the key players within the team, understands the systems and processes, so would offer Merc continuity.

We know he is quick as he proved that when he filled in for Hamilton at the Sakhir GP. The only doubt is whether he can deliver at the same rate as Hamilton for as yet he's only scored three points, let alone a victory.

Charles Leclerc

Mature beyond his 23 years, Leclerc carried Ferrari last season. He delivered results in a terrible car and completely out-classed his former teammate and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.

Of course, like Verstappen, he is not part of the Mercedes stable, but if they are able to promise and deliver him a car capable of fighting for wins in 2022, he'd be interested in making the switch from red to silver.

Lando Norris

Bags and bags of potential and a fascinating character to boot. Norris has it all in his locker, he just needs to find the right team to unlock his potential.

He is making fantastic progress at McLaren but given a dominant car, the Brit would be able to mix it with the best on the grid.

He is under contract at McLaren but is paid considerably less than his peers.

Mick Schumacher

There will be a huge amount of attention on Michael Schumacher's son as he makes his debut in 2021 for the Haas F1 team.

Schumacher is there by virtue of his place in the Ferrari Young Driver academy, who will be desperate to keep hold of him should he impress.

However, the lure of a German driver in a German car could prove too irresistible for Mercedes, who would not hesitate to break the bank if they believed he could deliver titles.

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