Mercedes target Hamilton as Schumacher successor?

(L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren with Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP. Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday 14 March 2010.
Lewis Hamilton with Michael Schumacher

Mar.5 (GMM) According to reports in the German media, McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton has been earmarked by Mercedes as a potential replacement for Michael Schumacher beyond the end of this season.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 passes Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W02. Formula One World Championship, Rd 6,  Monaco Grand Prix, Race, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Sunday 29 May 2011.
Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher battle wheel-to-wheel during the 2011 Monaco GP

That is the claim of Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag, following the Stuttgart marque’s recent denial that Schumacher has already been offered a new two-year contract for 2013 and 2014.

The newspaper said Briton Hamilton, the 2008 world champion whose McLaren deal ends this year, is the ‘plan B’ should seven time world champion return to retirement before his 44th birthday.

Bild am Sonntag said Mercedes already knows Hamilton after powering his F3 title in 2005.

“If we had a plan B already,” motor sport vice-president Norbert Haug is quoted as saying, “we would not be well advised to talk about it in public.

“Before we talk to Michael, this is not a topic,” [for discussion] he insisted.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone said recently that he doubts that Hamilton will see out his career with McLaren.

“If he doesn’t perform this year he’ll be looking to move on. And the team, maybe, will also be looking to him to move on,” the 81-year-old Briton said.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren talks with Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP in parc ferme.  Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Suzuka, Japan, Saturday 8 October 2011.
Lewis Hamilton has words with Michael Schumacher after qualifying for the 2011 Japanese GP

According to Bild, however, more than 50 per cent of German fans surveyed want Marussia’s Timo Glock to replace Schumacher.

Hamilton secured 3.9 per cent of the vote.

“This is all just speculation,” a Mercedes spokesman is quoted by Germany’s Sport1. “There are no negotiations with any drivers and we will only speak with Michael at the appropriate time.

“For now, our entire focus is on the start of the season.”

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