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Mercedes scouting for 'next Hamilton' in karting ranks

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Mercedes AMG F1 boss Toto Wolff says the German manufacturer is keeping tabs on teenage talent in the junior ranks of motorsport as it searches for the next Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes' current protégés include Esteban Ocon, who is tipped for a potential seat at the Silver Arrows team in 2019, junior driver and 2017 GP3 champion George Russell, and Pascal Wehrlein who heads back to the DTM series this year after falling off the F1 grid.

But Wolff says his he's keeping a watchful eye on the burgeoning talent racing in several entry level series, and even in karting.

"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.

"We are approaching this with a completely open mindset. 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."

George Russell made his official F1 free practice debut at the Brazilian GP last year, running with Mercedes customer team Force India.

The 19-year-old moves up to F2 this season with the front-running ART Grand Prix outfit.

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