Lewis Hamilton has no plans to retire from Formula 1 at the moment. The Briton is expected to sign a new deal and remain in the sport at least until 2025, but at 38 years old, everyone is aware that he is in the final years of his illustrious career.

Mercedes will be preparing for his eventual departure, and when he does, they are expected to move for Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc to fill the void. If the Italian marque cannot give the Monegasque a title winning car, he is expected to accept the offer.

Leclerc made it clear that he wants to win with Ferrari having come through the famous red team's young driver programme. However, with his contract expiring in 2024, he will have a big decision to make. Things will become complicated if he is not part of the drivers' championship conversation before then.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff remains a big admirer of Leclerc, and sees him as a potential successor to Hamilton. If the Silver Arrows are title contenders come 2024, it will be easy to convince Leclerc to make the switch, especially if Ferrari are still trailing their rivals.

Charles Leclerc
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc POOL via AFP / Giuseppe CACACE

"I would imagine [Toto Wolff] is going to try and go for Leclerc," former Ferrari manager Peter Windsor said, as quoted on Crash.

"It would be a mess, probably, putting Leclerc with George Russell. But if he's prepared to put Russell with Hamilton, he's obviously going to be prepared to put him with Leclerc."

However, Ferrari are reportedly preparing for such a situation with Windsor suggesting that the Italian team will go all out to sign McLaren driver Lando Norris. Ferrari see the young Briton as an ideal replacement for the Monaco-born driver.

Norris signed a long-term deal with McLaren last year until 2025. However, if Ferrari lose Leclerc, they will be willing to buy out his contract in order to force the move. Windsor also feels that it will be hard to turn down Ferrari for Norris, especially if they continue to out perform the Woking based team.

"Let's assume Leclerc went from Ferrari to Mercedes to replace Lewis, which is not a completely stupid assumption, what then would Ferrari do? I think they would go massively all out to get Lando," he added.

"And I think Lando, at that point, would find it quite hard to say no, putting aside all the contractual stuff - because I do think that at that level, they can afford to [solve contractual problems]."

Lewis Hamilton
British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton was named as an investor in the new ownership group of the NFL's Denver Broncos AFP / CHRISTOPHE SIMON