Mercedes dealt new Lewis Hamilton blow as potential replacement officially ruled out of contention
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Mercedes have been dealt a new blow in their attempts to replace Lewis Hamilton, who will be leaving the team to drive for Ferrari from the 2025 F1 season.
Hamilton will join the Scuderia after exercising an option to leave the Silver Arrows before the second year of his ongoing two-year contract, which he signed in August.
In a lengthy statement posted to his social media channels on Saturday afternoon, Hamilton outlined the reasoning behind his decision: "The time is right to make a change and take on a new challenge.
"I still remember the feeling of taking a leap of faith into the unknown when I first joined Mercedes in 2013. I know some people didn't understand it at the time but I was right to make the move then and it's the feeling I have again now.
"I'm excited to see what I can bring to this new opportunity and what we can do together."
Hamilton then stressed that, until then, his full focus is on achieving success with Mercedes in 2024.
And his team will feel the same, they will also need to have one eye on recruiting the 39-year-old's replacement.
A number of high-profile names have been linked with taking the vacant seat alongside George Russell, including Fernando Alonso, former Mercedes junior driver Esteban Ocon, and Carlos Sainz, who is leaving Ferrari at the end of 2024.
Another name that has cropped up as a potential option is Daniel Ricciardo. However, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has confirmed that the Australian isn't available.
When asked about the subject by F1-insider, Marko is quoted as saying: "Ricciardo still has a long-term contract and is not available."
Ricciardo currently drives for AlphaTauri, who are rebranding to compete as RB Formula 1 Team for the 2024 season.
The 34-year-old re-signed for Red Bull after leaving McLaren at the end of 2022, and spent the first half of last season as the team's reserve driver.
He then replaced Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri, scoring all of his six points for the season at the Mexico City Grand Prix. He also suffered a broken hand in a practice crash at the Dutch Grand Prix which forced him to miss five races.
Ricciardo won seven F1 races during his first spell as a Red Bull driver between 2014 and 2020, and added another to his tally by winning the 2021 Italian Grand Prix with McLaren.
The link to Mercedes, though, certainly makes an element of sense, as it was speculated that the Australian would sign for the Silver Arrows as reserve driver before rejoining Red Bull. Mercedes eventually signed Mick Schumacher to the role instead.
However, it looks as if Ricciardo is a no-go for Mercedes for 2025 - if they had a significant intention of approaching him for the drive.