Toto Wolff has indicated that Lewis Hamilton is likely to remain in Formula 1 well into his late 30's after revealing that Mercedes are looking for his successor to take his place in "six or seven" years.
The Briton's current contract with the Silver Arrows team expires at the end of the 2018 season, but Hamilton has confirmed that he will commit to a new deal. Wolff, the Mercedes motorsport chief recently revealed that they had held positive talks with the four-time drivers' world champion and it is just a matter of time before he extends.
The 33-year-old driver has had tremendous success since joining Mercedes from McLaren in 2013. He has won three drivers' titles and taken the team to four consecutive constructors' championships.
The reigning champions are keen to hold on to Hamilton for the foreseeable future and are likely to tie him down to a new three-year deal. However, Wolff has revealed that the team are already looking for the "new Hamilton" for when the British driver does decide to hang up his helmet.
The Mercedes chief revealed that they are looking at not only junior categories on formula but also go-kart racers. He revealed that they are currently backing a 12-year-old Italian driver. It is a similar path to what McLaren did with Hamilton – he was supported by the Woking based team since he was 13-years-old.
"We are trying to keep our eyes open to identify the next Lewis Hamilton for in five, six or seven years, when Lewis eventually decides he has had enough of Formula 1," Wolff said, as quoted by the Express.
"We are approaching this with a completely open mindset," the Mercedes chief explained. "We are even looking at karting. We are supporting a young Italian boy who is barely 12 years old.
"We enjoy doing that. It is just about identifying the talent, no matter where they are at the moment."