Wolff targeting Alonso as Hamilton 'replacement'


Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has admitted that should Lewis Hamilton fail to agree a new contract his team would seek Fernando Alonso as a replacement.

The 2014 world champion is currently in talks to extend his current contract beyond the end of 2015. However, other than money, the Briton will be looking for assurances from the team that it can help him secure further titles to add to his tally.

Furthermore, Hamilton will be aware that, engine freeze or unfreeze, Mercedes cannot rely on its domination to continue forever. Therefore, faced with the possibility that he might opt to move elsewhere, Wolff reveals that his team is keeping its options open also, and top of its 'shopping list', in terms of a replacement, is Alonso.

"There's no hurry, we'll discuss it during the year," he told Gazetta dello Sport. "I'm an optimist. The priority is to continue with these drivers. Should it not be possible, then Alonso represents the first alternative, then there's Bottas."

Paying tribute to the Spaniard, who has left Ferrari after six seasons in which he finished runner-up three times, Wolff added: "If he has a car that can finish sixth, he will take it to third place," said Wolff."

While Alonso has returned to McLaren, the team with which his previous association turned sour after just a few months, and where he partnered Hamilton in his debut season, much will depend on how competitive the new car, complete with Honda power unit, proves to be. No doubt the Spaniard has performance clauses in his contract.

On the other hand, Wolff's comments will have been made with the full intention of warning Hamilton to put pen to paper sooner rather than later.

Looking ahead to the coming season, Wolff admits that the team he fears most is Williams, for whom his wife Susie is test driver.

"I put Williams at the top of the list," he said. "But I also fear a lot Red Bull. They have won four titles in a row and will use every resource in order to fight again for the title."

Chris Balfe

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Published: 02/01/2015
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