‘Wildcard’ option with Mercedes links identified as potential Williams target

Sam Cooper
James Vowles

Both Williams drivers will be out of contact at the end of the 2024 season.

The name of Andrea Kimi Antonelli has been thrown into the ring for a potential Williams spot as he moves up the ranks.

Antonelli is a Mercedes junior who will make the big leap up into F2 having won the FRECA championship in 2023.

The young Italian is one many foresee as having an F1 future and established F1 reporter Lawrence Barretto has predicted that could come sooner rather than later.

Andrea Kimi Antonelli tipped for future Williams spot

Barretto, who works for F1, described Antonelli as “the most intriguing prospect” of all the young rookies hoping to get onto the grid and suggested that should the 17-year-old deliver the “rampant success” he has shown so far, he could be a Williams contender next year.

Antonelli is a driver who Mercedes have had their eye on for a while with boss Toto Wolff revealing the first appeal came in 2012.

“We got Kimi under the wings in 2012 and he was a great kid already then. You could see the character, he was strong,” Wolff said.

“We had him in the garage and there was a lot of confidence. And then in go-karting his track record was immense, and then you put him in the junior formulas and he wins every single season in his rookie year.

“But we’ve got to be careful because there’s a lot of hype around Kimi. Putting him into F2 is a big step because those cars are heavier and much more powerful.

“But if we give him time – and don’t expect him to be killing it in his first season – I think he can be a really great one in this sport.”

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F2 does represent a big step up for the Italian but Wolff believes the fact that F2 cars are changing for the upcoming season, is a bonus for Antonelli.

“I think it depends on how it goes,” the Austrian continued. “It’s new cars, which is an advantage, and it all depends on how quick you can be.

“But there are some tough competitors that get to go into the second season – Fred [Vasseur, Ferrari team principal] has [Bearman] – that are highly rated.

“I think, whether it’s a season or two, he needs to demonstrate that he’s ready for a seat in F1. And there’s another step in between: we’ve got to concentrate on F2, nothing else.”

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