Could Mercedes insert Kimi Antonelli at Williams before end of F1 2024?

All eyes are turning to Mercedes as the 2025 F1 driver market continues to take shape.

Andrea Kimi Antonelli
Andrea Kimi Antonelli

Following Fernando Alonso’s contract renewal at Aston Martin, attention in the F1 driver market is switching to what Mercedes will now do.

Mercedes are in need of a replacement for Lewis Hamilton, who is joining Ferrari next season, with free agent Carlos Sainz an obvious candidate to fill the vacant seat.

However, it is believed that Mercedes’ favoured Hamilton replacement is their 17-year-old protege Andrea Kimi Antonelli.

Thanks to the Italian teenager’s meteoric rise through the junior categories, Antonelli is already being touted as Mercedes’ Max Verstappen.

Mercedes are seemingly happy to wait and evaluate Antonelli’s progress during his rookie Formula 2 campaign before making a call, and have already lined up a maiden F1 test for the teenage sensation at the Red Bull Ring.

There have been suggestions that Mercedes could place Antonelli into an F1 seat at customer team Williams before the end of this season, to help get him up to speed ahead of a potential graduation to the works team in 2025.

That would be permitted under F1’s regulations once Antonelli has turned 18 on August 25. He has already accumulated the required super licence points from F4 and his two Formula Regional titles.

The prospect of an early promotion for Antonelli this year was discussed on the latest episode of the F1 Nation podcast.

“I see Max staying, I see Checo staying, we see Fernando Alonso staying. So the only question mark is what happens alongside George Russell? Is that going to be Carlos Sainz?” host Tom Clarkson said of the driver market.

“Is that going to be Kimi Antonelli, who is testing for Mercedes at the Red Bull Ring in a couple of weeks’ time? But equally, is Toto Wolff going to want to give Antonelli a little bit of mileage?

“He turns 18 at the end of August, and 18 is the magic number in Formula 1 now because you can’t race younger than that.

“So could we see Antonelli do the second half of the season at Williams before then getting plugged into the Mercedes next year? Who knows, but now it’s all about Mercedes.”

Such a scenario might make sense for Williams if the team was already planning to replace Logan Sargeant next season. The Grove-based outfit also have history of running Mercedes juniors, having fielded George Russell from 2019 until his promotion in 2022.

In the event Mercedes and Toto Wolff do put their faith in Antonelli for 2025, and in doing so overlook Sainz, the Spaniard could end up being an option for the likes of Williams or Sauber/Audi. 

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