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Daniel Ricciardo twist emerges amid Lewis Hamilton's bombshell F1 move to Ferrari

Hamilton is leaving Mercedes at the end of 2024, sparking questions about who will replace him.

Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo.
Could Daniel Ricciardo be an option to replace Lewis Hamilton at Red Bull? Image: Getty

F1 fans are daring to dream of Daniel Ricciardo joining Mercedes after the bombshell news that Lewis Hamilton is heading to Ferrari. Hamilton, a seven-time F1 world champion, has activated a release option in his contract and will leave Mercedes at the end of the 2024 season to join Ferrari.

"Scuderia Ferrari is pleased to announce that Lewis Hamilton will be joining the team in 2025, on a multi-year contract," Ferrari said in a statement on Thursday. Mercedes had earlier confirmed that the British champion would be leaving.

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Hamilton said in a statement: "I have had an amazing 11 years with this team and I'm so proud of what we have achieved together. Mercedes has been part of my life since I was 13 years old.

"It's a place where I have grown up, so making the decision to leave was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. But the time is right for me to take this step and I'm excited to be taking on a new challenge."

The 39-year-old Hamilton declared that he wanted to finish his time at Mercedes on a high and was "100 per cent committed" to delivering his best performance in 2024 and making it "one to remember". Hamilton will partner Charles Leclerc and replace Carlos Sainz - with the latter immediately linked to the vacant Mercedes seat.

Could Daniel Ricciardo replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes?

But another name who will surely come into calculations is Ricciardo. The Aussie star started last year as a reserve driver for Red Bull, but was promoted to a full-time drive with their junior team AlphaTauri (now called Visa Cash App RB). Some stellar form has led to calls for Red Bull to promote him even further to be Max Verstappen's No.2 driver in 2024.

But Red Bull boss Christian Horner appeared to scupper those thoughts when he threw his full support behind the struggling Sergio Perez. "I am absolutely confident and clear that Checo (Perez) will be our driver next year," Horner told motorsport.com in November.

"Now, if he was injured or something like that, there are circumstances beyond our control. But the clear plan and therefore the clear intention is that he will continue. We're planning to continue. We have announced the AlphaTauri drivers, we have our Red Bull Racing drivers. That is how we intend to go racing in 2024.

Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc in 2023.

"Checo (Perez) has an agreement with us for next year and that's our intention, for him to be in the car in 2024. We'll give him all the support we can to ensure that he finishes second (in the drivers' standings), but there's no prerequisite that if he doesn't finish second, you're out."

Whether or not Red Bull are keen to keep Perez for 2025 remains to be seen, but he too will be linked to the Mercedes set. There's no doubt Ricciardo would also be keen to join the powerhouse of Mercedes, and F1 fans are certainly holding out hope that it happens.

Ricciardo made himself a household name at the start of his career with Red Bull. But ill-fated stints at Renault and McLaren have seen him fall down the pecking order dramatically over the last few years. Lando Norris, Alexander Albon, Fernando Alonso, Mick Schumacher and Esteban Ocon would also seemingly be contenders to join Mercedes.

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