Toto Wolff’s intriguing ‘they’re about to sign’ update as Mercedes whittle down 2025 options

Michelle Foster
Toto Wolff in the team boss press conference

Mercedes continue to struggle in F1's ground-effect aerodynamic era

Whittling down Mercedes’ 2025 options, Toto Wolff won’t be rushed into making a decision even with “some of the really good guys” about to sign with rival teams.

Lewis Hamilton’s bombshell announcement that he’s off to Ferrari next season has left Mercedes a driver short for the 2025 championship, having only put pen to paper on a two-year contract extension as recently as August last year.

Toto Wolff: Too early for Mercedes to commit to a driver for 2025

From Fernando Alonso to Carlos Sainz, Sebastian Vettel to Andrea Kimi Antonelli, Mercedes have a pile of CVs of drivers wanting the race seat alongside George Russell.

But while Wolff has confirmed that “yes” he has whittled that down to a shortlist, the team principal refused to say how short that list was.

He did, however, make it clear in Friday’s team boss press conference for the Japanese Grand Prix that he won’t be rushed, even though it has meant losing some “good guys” off the list to rival teams.

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“We haven’t taken the decision yet,” he said of his 2025 line-up, “and it’s not something that we plan to do in the next few weeks.

“The driver market is very dynamic. Some of the really good guys, they’re about to sign for some of the other teams.

“We want to continue to have these discussions and keep our options open.

“But at this stage, I think it’s much too early to commit to a driver whether very young or whether very experienced. I don’t want to say old, very experienced.

“The next few months will give us more clues.”

Mercedes’ rumoured list includes a retired driver and a rookie

Interestingly, Mercedes’ list – at least the rumoured one – includes both a retired F1 driver in four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel and a rookie in Mercedes junior and Formula 2 driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli.

Asked about Vettel, who recently revealed he was talking to Wolff although not necessarily about the Mercedes seat, the Austrian said: “Sebastian is someone that you can never discount. I think his track record is phenomenal. Sometimes maybe taking a break is also good to refind your motivation.”

However, it is being widely speculated that Mercedes are waiting on junior driver Antonelli before making their decision with the 17-year-old set to commence an extensive F1 test programme later this month.

Asked if Mercedes were hurrying up his programme with the first test taking place on April 16-17, Wolff insists that was always the plan although they have added a few more days.

“The program of Kimi driving a Formula 1 car has been in place for a long time,” he said. “It hasn’t changed massively over the last few weeks.

“What we have done is added more days. What we will see in the next few months has been in place.

“Whether or not he’s going sit in a Formula 1 car next year…

“We’re going to use a few of these days for him to get comfortable in an F1 car. He’s driving the 2021 car in Austria for the first time, we want to give him a feeling of the really good car feels it’s like before we put him in the ’22 car.

“Obviously he’s been our young boy for a long time and we were keen to see what he’s able to do in a Formula 1 car.

“Oliver Bearman was refreshing to look at, how competitive he was in Saudi Arabia with no free practice, high-speed, complicated track, and he was right up there. So Kimi will be doing just fine.”

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