Oscar Piastri twist emerges amid search for Lewis Hamilton's replacement at Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton announced he is leaving Mercedes at the end of 2024 and Oscar Piastri has been touted as a potential replacement.

Pictured left Oscar Piastri and right Lewis Hamilton
Aussie Oscar Piastri has been floated as a potential Lewis Hamilton replacement at Mercedes when the F1 great vacates his seat in 2025 to join Ferrari. Image: Getty

Aussie Oscar Piastri has been floated as a potential Lewis Hamilton replacement at Mercedes when the F1 great vacates his seat at the end of 2024. Hamilton - a seven-time F1 world champion - earlier this month activated a release option in his contract and announced he will leave Mercedes to join Ferrari for the 2025 campaign.

The 39-year-old 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. His shock defection is expected to trigger a mass shakeup for 2025, with numerous drivers off-contract at the end of the year.

BIG MOVE: Ricciardo twist emerges after bombshell Hamilton switch to Ferrari

'MEGA DRIVE': Oscar Piastri hailed for Las Vegas Grand Prix performance

Piastri, however, is not one of them, signing a two-year extension in September that will see him contracted to McLaren until the end of 2026. Piastri's McLaren deal is currently the second longest in the F1, with only back-to-back-to-back world champion Max Verstappen's contract with Red Bull longer, with his deal until the end of 2028.

However, former driver-turned-pundit Karun Chandhok told the Sky Sports F1 show that Piastri's manager Mark Webber could get him out of the deal if he wanted to join Mercedes. "We know Oscar has a contract with McLaren, but Mark Webber has negotiated plenty of F1 contracts in the past and I'm sure there will be an escape clause somewhere, as we've seen with Lewis," Chandhok said.

"Oscar's debut season was brilliant – he had weaknesses in his race pace no doubt about it, but he has another season to build on that," Chandhok continued. "I think Oscar and George (Russell) as a line-up at Mercedes is a good one."

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 26: Oscar Piastri (C) of McLaren prepares ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on November 26, 2023. (Photo by Mohammed Zarandah/Anadolu via Getty Images)
Oscar Piastri signed a two-year extension in September on top of his existing three-year deal with McLaren which sees him contracted with the F1 team until the end of 2026. Image: Getty

Daniel Ricciardo a potential Lewis Hamilton replacement?

Another Aussie whose name has been thrown into the mix to replace the UK F1 star is Daniel Ricciardo. The Aussie 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.

Due to fine form at the end of 2023, some fans called for Red Bull to promote him to be Max Verstappen's No.2 driver in 2024 but Red Bull boss Christian Horner shut down that option, saying the team has full faith in Sergio Perez. Whether or not Red Bull is looking to retain Perez for 2025 is unclear, with the driver also linked to the Mercedes seat. While there's no doubt Ricciardo would be keen to join Mercedes, it is admittedly a long shot.

Ricciardo made himself a household name at the start of his career with Red Bull but his stock dropped after below-par stints with Renault and McLaren. Lando Norris, Alexander Albon, Fernando Alonso, Mick Schumacher and Esteban Ocon are all considered strong chances of landing the vacant Mercedes seat.

Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.