KITSBUHEL, Austria - Fernando Alonso is at the top of Mercedes' list should Lewis Hamilton elect to leave the dominant German team at the end of the 2015 racing season.
OPTION ARE OPEN: New McLaren driver Fernando Alonso has left Ferrari for the now Honda-powered team but has his foot in the door at Mercedes, too. Image: AP / Wong Maye-E
So said team boss Toto Wolff in comments that could be interpreted as a "hurry up" for Hamilton, Formula 1's 2014 Driver's champion.
Hamilton's Mercedes contract will end with the close of the 2015 season but Wolff said the team wanted to renew it as soon as possible. However, he told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport while on holiday in the Austrian ski town of Kitzbuhel,: "There's no hurry. We will talk about it during the year. "I’m optimistic.
“The priority is to continue with these drivers but if that's not possible Alonso is the first alternative… then there's Bottas."
Alonso has rejoined the now Honda-powered McLaren team for 2015 year after leaving Ferrari but there has been speculation the contract includes an exit clause that could see Alonso jump to Mercedes for 2016 should a vacancy arise.
Speaking about Alonso's McLaren move, Wolff said: "He is dangerous in any car. If he has a car in his hands capable of being sixth, he'll take it to third."