Nico Rosberg’s ‘too early’ warning over possible Lewis Hamilton Mercedes replacement

Henry Valantine
Former Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg.

Nico Rosberg has weighed in on Mercedes' potential next move on the driver market.

Nico Rosberg has warned Mercedes it would be “too early” to promote junior driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli to a race seat next season, especially with it being so early in the Formula 2 campaign.

Antonelli is widely regarded as a star of the future, having flown through the junior categories and moved past Formula 3 altogether to race in F2 this year, and is known to be a candidate to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes in F1 2025.

Nico Rosberg warns Mercedes about promoting Kimi Antonelli ‘too early’

Even at 17, Antonelli has forged a strong reputation in the junior categories having won the Italian and ADAC F4 titles in 2022, before taking title glory in FRECA and Formula Regional Middle East last season.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has been wary of putting too much pressure on Antonelli to perform, having signed him as a junior driver in his karting days.

The Italian recently took part in his first Formula 1 test, having taken the wheel of the 2021 Mercedes W12 for two days at the Red Bull Ring in Austria to gain experience of top-level machinery.

Another test in the team’s 2022 car, the W13, is planned, but despite his undoubted potential, 2016 World Champion Rosberg warned that promoting him to a race seat for 2025 would be “too soon”, and a move to another of his former teams may be more logical to gain experience.

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“Well, Antonelli is definitely a superstar of the future,” Rosberg said on Sky Sports F1.

“But unfortunately, timing wise it’s really too early for him, and especially too early for Toto to be able to make a decision on Antonelli.

“I mean, he needs to wait until somewhat later in the year as we see how Antonelli does in Formula 2 also, because he does need a really strong season in Formula 2 to even to make it a possibility for him to go straight to Mercedes.

“Otherwise, if anything, some time at Williams or something would make sense.”

After a difficult opening round in Formula 2, Antonelli’s results have steadily improved as the season has progressed so far, earning a P4 finish in the feature race in Melbourne as his season highlight to date.

F2 will next appear on the Formula 1 support schedule at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, with the Mercedes junior currently ninth in the standings.

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