Max Verstappen’s message to Kimi Antonelli with both drivers on Mercedes shortlist

Henry Valantine
Kimi Antonelli and Max Verstappen

Kimi Antonelli may have to wait to make is F1 debut because of a rule introduced because of Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen has offered advice to Mercedes junior Andrea Kimi Antonelli as he progresses through the junior categories in the hope of a Formula 1 seat in future.

The 17-year-old is known to be one of the candidates to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes next season, though the team are looking to sign Verstappen from Red Bull if the opportunity arises, though he remains under contract with the reigning World Champions until 2028.

Max Verstappen offers ‘very talented’ Kimi Antonelli F1 advice: ‘Make mistakes’

Additional reporting by Sam Cooper

Verstappen became the youngest ever Formula 1 driver when he made his debut with Toro Rosso back in 2015, and the FIA has since introduced a minimum age drivers can be eligible to race in the top series, of 18.

Antonelli does not reach that age until August but has impressed enough in his junior career to have jumped straight from Formula 4 and into Formula 2, with Verstappen having gone into Formula 1 cars with only F3 experience as his quickest cars beforehand.

With that, he encouraged the Italian to “make mistakes” while he is still young and learn from them, as he did in his younger days – because he can see he is a “very talented” driver in the making.

“Well, hopefully nothing too intimidating, but, you know, you’re such a rookie, you know, that there’s so many things that you still have to learn,” Verstappen told media including when asked about his experience of reaching the Formula 1 paddock as a teenager, and whether he had any advice for Antonelli.

“I mean, for me personally, the biggest one was actually doing a full race distance.

“Like, in F3 at the time, you know, you did 35-minute races, so there’s a lot more involved.

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“But yeah, just going through the good moments, the bad moments, how you come out of these things, difficult weekends, where it’s just not working for you or whatever. Like, there’s so much to learn.

“But on the other hand, also, don’t try to think about it too much. Just let it go.

“When you’re talented – and you can see that with Kimi, he’s very talented – I don’t think you should be too worried, you know, just… make mistakes.

“I mean, you have to make mistakes. Ideally, of course, you like to make those mistakes when you’re not fighting for championships or whatever, so I also got lucky with that, you know, starting at Toro Rosso at the time, not many people are looking at you all the time, so you can make some silly mistakes here and there.

“But it’s important to make them because even though you tell yourself all the time ‘I cannot do this or I cannot do that’, you will only adapt really if you make them and then move forward.

“Just in general, growing up as a person as well, I guess, even outside the car, knowing what you want in your private life, and then it’s just understanding the set-up of a racing car more and more over time.

“Of course cars evolve, but when you’re with one particular team, at one point you know more or less what works or not.

“Being with the same kind of race engineers and people around you that fine tune the car for you, all these kind of things, the more you spend time with them, the more it comes to you.

“But again, don’t try to think about it too much, just let it happen. When you’re that young, just focus on trying to go as fast as you can, make your mistakes, you know, have good race results and just try not to think about it too much.

“Now you can explain all of this, but at the time you don’t know that, right?

“So it’s like, just ease into it, and then you have good people around you, normally in the team, that will coach you around this.”

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