Top Mercedes junior prospect set to shoot up junior ranks for 2024 F2 drive – report

Thomas Maher
Andrea Kimi Antonelli, pictured during the 2023 season attending a race with Mercedes.

Andrea Kimi Antonelli, pictured during the 2023 season attending a race with Mercedes.

One of Mercedes’ leading lights in the junior categories is rumoured to be making the leap to Formula 2 for 2024.

17-year-old Italian racer Andrea Kimi Antonelli has been making waves in the junior categories of motorsport in recent years, with multiple championships won over the past two years.

Signed by Mercedes to their junior driver academy ahead of 2019, Antonelli looks set to make the leap to become one of the Brackley team’s leading prospects as he looks set to make the jump to F2 and join fellow Mercedes junior Frederik Vesti in the rung below F1.

Is Andrea Kimi Antonelli going to be an F2 racer next year?

With multiple karting championships won before making the step up to single-seaters, Antonelli won the Italian and German F4 championships in 2022 racing with respected outfit Prema.

Representing Team Italy, Antonelli also won the FIA Motorsport Games Formula 4 Cup in 2022. This season, remaining with Prema, he won the Formula Regional Middle East Championship and is the current leader of the Formula Regional European Championship (FRECA), where he currently enjoys an 18-point lead over Norway’s Martinius Stenshorne.

According to multiple reports in Italian media, Antonelli is set to remain with Prema, but making the leap to F2 – thus skipping the F3 level completely. A key factor in this decision is apparently due to the introduction of the brand-new F2 chassis which will make its debut next season, meaning Antonelli could join with more experienced drivers already in F2 without being behind on knowledge of the machinery.

No official announcement has yet been made by Prema, who currently have Vesti and Ferrari junior Oliver Bearman on their books. Vesti is a contender for the title this season, trailing championship leader Theo Pourchaire by 25 points with two races remaining – both in Abu Dhabi. Should Vesti win the title, he will not be able to remain in Formula 2.

PlanetF1.com recommends

Mercedes junior team: The drivers looking to emulate George Russell’s road to F1 glory

Red Bull junior team: The 12 drivers looking to rise through the ranks to F1

Toto Wolff doesn’t rule out big move for Andrea Kimi Antonelli

Asked about the possibility of Antonelli moving to F2 next season, a dramatic step up in level despite his massive success over the past two years, Mercedes’ team boss Toto Wolff didn’t rule out the move – saying such a possibility will be evaluated should the 17-year-old wrap up the FRECA title.

“I think we will all hope that Andrea can make a great career,” Wolff told media, including PlanetF1.com, over the Italian Grand Prix weekend.

“But there is always the risk that if you create too much hype around a young driver, that he’s not left in peace to do anything.

“He is in FRECA, and he dominated F4 last year in a solid way. He’s won those championships and won in go-karting, and he is leading the championship in FRECA.

“We will see how FRECA goes, then will take a decision what to do, together with his father and Kimi, what are we doing next year? And in which directions to go?

“But I’m happy that there is an Italian in the starting blocks for a great career.”

As for Vesti, Wolff was full of praise for the Danish youngster after what has been a strong F2 campaign.

“Another very good one, he’s doing everything that needs to be done,” he said.

“Hopefully winning the F2 championship so he’s on a really, really good trajectory. It’s just, at the moment, you need to see which F1 doors are really open and what to do if they’re not.

“Frederik merits to be in an F1 car if he wins the F2 championship – then you can say that. Let’s see where that leads him, but he’s done a very good job.”

Read Next: McLaren braced for Alex Palou no-show in Singapore as legal battle continues