Mercedes have six possible replacements for Lewis Hamilton if the British ace misses next week's Canadian Grand Prix, as has been suggested by team principal Toto Wolff.
Wolff hinted after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix that Hamilton, 37, could skip F1's return to Montreal as he continues to battle with back problems caused by the Mercedes' extreme porpoising.
Asked if the British driver is a doubt for Canada, Wolff admitted: "Yeah definitely. You can see that it is not muscular, it goes properly deep into the spine and there are some consequences." With Hamilton facing a possible spell on the sidelines, Daily Star Sport has come up with six potential replacements for the stricken star.
Nyck De Vries
Dutchman Nyck De Vries is perhaps the most obvious replacement for Hamilton. Currently a test and reserve driver for Mercedes, De Vries also competes for the Silver Arrows in Formula E, where he is the reigning world champion.
The 27-year-old former Formula 2 champion is sixth in this season's standings, some 56 points behind team-mate and fellow Mercedes reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne (more on him later).
Nevertheless, De Vries has won a race in the championship this term, and he also has recent experience of an F1 race weekend, having deputised for Williams driver Alex Albon during a Spanish Grand Prix practice session last month. The Dutch ace was spoken about as a possible replacement for Hamilton at the Monaco Grand Prix and would be among Mercedes' first choice options if the seven-time world champion pulled out next week.
Who do you think should replace Lewis Hamilton if he can't drive in Canada? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Stoffel Vandoorne is the other obvious replacement if it all gets too much for Hamilton. Also a test driver for Mercedes, Vandoorne has an ace up his sleeve if it comes down to a straight battle between him and De Vries.
Not only is he the Formula E world championship leader, having won one race and finished on the podium on four other occasions this term, but he also has previous F1 experience.
Fans of the sport may remember Vandoorne's ill-fated spell at McLaren from 2017 to 2018. The Belgian lined up in 42 races for the famous constructor during their fallow years, picking up a measly 26 points.
That tally does not reflect the driver's true ability. If Mercedes are prepared to not only have him as a test driver but also represent them in Formula E, then he must be doing some right.
Mercedes could take a punt on 20-year-old Frederik Vesti. Those who watch the junior formulas will be well aware of Vesti's talents, but for the uninitiated, let us explain.
After winning the Formula Regional European Championship in 2019, the Danish ace move up to Formula 3, where he recorded back-to-back fourth-place finishes in the championship.
During that time, he also became a Mercedes Junior Team driver, giving him the opportunity to follow a similar path to current Silver Arrows star George Russell. This season, Vesti is competing in Formula 2 and on Saturday, recorded his first race win of the campaign, pipping Jehan Daruvala to win the Sprint Race.
A call-up for Vesti to the senior team so soon is unlikely but not unheard of. Either way, the youngster is certainly one to keep an eye on as the Formula 2 season progresses.
Mercedes chief Wolff pulled a string or two to get Esteban Ocon his drive at Alpine. Who's to say the Austrian charmer couldn't pull a similar trick to get the Frenchman as cover for Hamilton in Canada?
Such an arrangement might seem odd, but then Wolff is Ocon's manager. Their partnership stems from the driver's time as a member of the Mercedes Junior Team from 2015 to 2019.
Admittedly, it is unlikely that we will see Ocon turning out for the Silver Arrows next week. But such a scenario would allow Alpine to blood Oscar Piastri, who has been rumoured as a possible replacement for Nicholas Latifi at Williams.
When there's an F1 driver, who's not feelin' good, who you gonna call? Nico Hulkenberg! Forgive the rubbish Ghostbuster remix, but Nico Hulkenberg is F1's version of a super sub.
The German racer has been without a full-time drive since leaving Renault in 2019 but has filled in for Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll and Sebastien Vettel at various points over the last two seasons.
The fact he is now contracted to Aston Martin would make things difficult. But with a little nod and a wink, it wouldn't be hard to envisage Hulkenberg continuing his tour of the pit lane next weekend.
Now look, we know there's about the same chance of this happening as Nicolas Latifi scoring a point this season, but wouldn't it be fun to see another Schumacher on the F1 grid?
David, son of former Williams and Toyota star Ralf, is currently competing in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) series, where admittedly he's not having the best of seasons.
But crucially, he is driving for Mercedes. That means there's a small chance – about the size of one of F1's marbles – that he could get the nod to replace Hamilton in Canada. Fingers crossed.
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