Mercedes boss reveals Sebastian Vettel talks amid Lewis Hamilton replacement search

Sebastian Vettel won four F1 titles in a row with Red Bull from 2010 to 2013 (Photo: Getty)

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has revealed he has been in contact with Sebastian Vettel amid the search for Sir Lewis Hamilton’s replacement.

However, he has played down the idea of the four-time Formula One champion sensationally coming out of retirement to race for Mercedes.

It was announced last week that Hamilton would be leaving the Silver Arrows after 11 years to join Ferrari in 2025.

Wolff and co. are now on the hunt for someone capable of living up to the standards set by the most successful driver in the sport’s history, with a variety of names on their radar.

This includes several drivers not currently racing in F1, like former Haas star Mick Schumacher, 17-year-old Andrea Kimi Antonelli and the retired Vettel.

The German legend walked away from the sport in 2022 after a highly successful 15-year career that included four consecutive titles and 53 wins – the fourth most in history.

But last year, the 36-year-old didn’t rule out the possibility of making a sensational comeback, however recent comments by Wolff have poured cold water on the rumours linking him with replacing Hamilton.

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Vettel named Lewis Hamilton as his greatest F1 rival – could he come out of retirement to replace him (Photo: Getty)

‘I think he made the decision to not race anymore,’ the Mercedes CEO said of Vettel.

‘We are talking on a regular basis. We’ve also talked yesterday [last Thursday], but it wasn’t about driving for us in the future.’

But while Wolff says his team won’t rush their decision, he suggested they could make a ‘bold’ call when selecting their new driver, and Vettel would certainly be that.

Speaking last year, the former Red Bull and Ferrari star said: ‘I can’t say no [to the idea of making a comeback], because that you don’t know. I can’t exclude it.’

It is more likely however that Wolff was discussing the idea of promoting Mercedes junior Antonelli who has been tipped for big things despite his tender age.

‘Kimi’s been with Mercedes since he was 11. He’s been in the junior programme, and his junior career was very successful,’ he added.

‘I think what’s most important at this stage is that he concentrates on F2. If we start to spin his mind or unleash rumours in the media onto him, that’s not going to help his F2 campaign.

‘He’s just stepped out of karts a few years ago and he’s not even 18. So I would rather not start any speculation about Kimi going into Formula 1 at that stage.’

The 2024 F1 season gets underway on March 2nd with the Bahrain Grand Prix.

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