Mercedes make Kimi Antonelli admission in Lewis Hamilton replacement search

Jamie Woodhouse
Andrea Kimi Antonelli, Toto Wolff, Mercedes badge

Andrea Kimi Antonelli and Toto Wolff, Mercedes.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff wants to cool the “hyping” up of Kimi Antonelli, as speculation persists over a possible F1 2025 race seat.

With Lewis Hamilton on his way to Ferrari next season, Mercedes has a vacancy to fill in their future driver line-up and talk regarding who will do that consistently puts Antonelli very high on the list.

Mercedes boss says ‘we are little bit guilty’ of hyping up Kimi Antonelli

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

After winning the Formula Regional European Championship title, the 17-year-old Italian skipped Formula 3 to join the Formula 2 grid with Prema for 2024. Antonelli is currently P6 in the Championship with a pair of feature race P4s marking his best result so far.

Wolff has spoken very highly of their star prospect, confirming him as a contender for Hamilton’s seat, with Hamilton himself having said that Antonelli would be his pick to replace him if he was making the call.

However, Wolff has called for calm on the Antonelli front, deciding it is not right to “rush” the teenager and claiming “we are a little bit guilty” of building-up the talk.

Asked by media including PlanetF1.com whether Antonelli is meeting expectations, Wolff replied: “Well, we are hyping that young man for a long time now and he will be very good and can be a great driver one day in Formula 1, but he’s 17.

“14 months ago, he drove an F4 car and there is so much expectation in Italy and we are a little bit guilty also about talking about him at that stage.

“And I think we should let him do his F2 thing and deliver results and not be too carried away with what could be or should be.

“You know, if you look at George, he’s won F3 and F2 in his rookie year and at the same time Kimi has delivered on those junior series and he’s in F2 now and so we’ll see.

“He’s going to be in Formula 1 one day, but let’s not rush it.”

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And a reluctance to rush applies to Wolff’s search for Hamilton’s successor in general.

The team boss was also quizzed on another Mercedes seat contender, Carlos Sainz, whose seat Hamilton will take at Ferrari.

Wolff was told that Sainz seems to be closing in on a move to Sauber, which will become Audi in 2026 and was therefore asked whether this influences his plans in the driver market.

It does not, Wolff instead expressing a willingness wait and accept such compromises.

“Carlos has his place in Formula 1, has been a Ferrari race winner in the last two years and someone with huge experience,” said Wolff.

“I think what I said is we need to prepare to compromise in certain decisions and to wait long, how the situation pans out over the summer and into autumn.

“With George we have a great driver that is with us. Fantastic. And then let’s see who is going to be his team-mate. But we don’t need to take this decision now.”

Wolff has also made his desire to sign Red Bull’s three-time World Champion Max Verstappen very clear, adding another potential driver option to the mix.

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