Verstappen and Antonelli? Helmut Marko not denying it’s a possibility… for Mercedes

Michelle Foster
Kimi Antonelli and Max Verstappen

Could Kimi Antonelli and Max Verstappen become F1 team-mates?

Helmut Marko isn’t ruling out Max Verstappen and Kimi Antonelli becoming team-mates, but it won’t be at Red Bull as the junior is an “absolute Mercedes man”.

Contesting this year’s Formula 2 championship with Prema, it seems it is only a matter of time before Antonelli joins the Formula 1 grid and it could even happen this season after the FIA cleared the age barrier for the 17-year-old Italian.

Could Max Verstappen and Kimi Antonelli be team-mates?

However, when the rumour he could race this season first emerged, it was denied by Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff although he has since made it clear that Antonelli is Mercedes’ F1 future.

“We’ve embarked on a route now to say, ‘You know what, we want to reinvent ourselves a little bit going forward’. And Kimi Antonelli definitely plays a part in that,” Wolff said in Montreal.

But, he added: “We haven’t taken the decision yet for next year.”

While it has been speculated that Mercedes could parachute Antonelli in alongside George Russell as early as next season, giving him a year in the car before the all-new regulations in 2026, others suggest Wolff may prefer to give him a year with a team such as Williams before putting him in the hot seat.

But with Williams widely tipped to sign Carlos Sainz, James Vowles may not be open to being the training ground for his former team boss’ protege.

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One team, actually two, that are definitely off the cards for Antonelli are Red Bull and their junior outfit RB.

Although the latter still has a seat open for next season, and Red Bull could even shuffle their drivers to make room for the Italian alongside Verstappen, motorsport advisor Marko said that is not an option.

“Antonelli is an absolute Mercedes man, we don’t need to think about it,” he told OE24.

But that doesn’t mean Antonelli and Verstappen won’t be team-mates in the years to come with both linked to Mercedes.

According to former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher, Russell’s seat could “be in jeopardy” if Verstappen decides to leave Red Bull.

He explained to Sky Germany: “I can imagine that there will be a seat for him at Mercedes. Then it could be rather bad for George Russell. He is – or was – a super talent, but he also makes a lot of mistakes.

“If a World Champion is then on the market, I can imagine that George Russell’s job could also be in jeopardy.”

Asked about that rumour, Marko was quick to change the subject: “That is still so far away.

“Now let’s concentrate on the next races and see if we can win the World Championship again. Our biggest advantage is that the other teams are taking points away from each other. I hope it continues like this.”

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