Toto Wolff keen to take pressure off hotly-rated Mercedes junior Andrea Kimi Antonelli

Andrea Kimi Antonelli is one of the biggest youngest talents on his way to a possible F1 seat in the future

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has called for expectations to be eased on hotly rated Mercedes junior Andrea Kimi Antonelli as he prepares for his first Formula 2 campaign in 2024.

Antonelli, a Mercedes junior since 2019, has rapidly risen through the feeder series racing, winning the Formula Regional European Championship [FRECA] in 2023, and the Italian and German Formula 4 championships in 2022.

For 2024, Antonelli will skip Formula 3 and move to Formula 2 with Italian outfit Prema partnering Ferrari’s junior talent Ollie Bearman, who impressed Haas during an FP1 at the Mexico City and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“We got Kimi under our wings in 2012 (2019), and he was a great kid then you could see the character he was strong,” reflected Wolff to the media. “We had him in a garage, and there was a lot of confidence.

“In go-karting, his record was immense, and then you put him in the junior formulas, and he wins every single season. But we’ve got to be careful because there is 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 his time and don’t expect him to be killing it in his first season, I think he can be a great one in this sport.

“He [turned] 17 in August, this is so young, and we get on well, and he’s coaching our six-year-old [Jack]. After a season or two, he needs to demonstrate he’s ready for a seat in F1.”

Who is Andrea Kimi Antonelli?

At just 17 years old, Kimi Antonelli is arguably one of the most highly-rated junior prospects after a chequered career in go-karts and junior cars.

Antonelli, the son of mid-90s touring car star Marco, started racing professionally in 2015 and was instantly a winner, taking that year’s Easykart International Grand Final in the Easy 60 category.

In 2018 Antonelli enjoyed a superb year, taking the WSK Champions Cup, the South Garda Cup and ROK Cup International Final – Mini ROKall.

Antonelli retained his South Garda Cup crown in 2019 before adding the WSK Euro Series and WSK Super Master Series titles in the OKJ category to an already glittering resume.

He ended his karting career in style by becoming double European junior champion in the OK category in 2020 and 2021, joining Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton on an illustrious list of former winners.

Antonelli stepped up to cars in 2021, partaking in a part-time campaign in the Italian Formula 4 championship, finishing on the podium three times.

In his first full season of cars in 2022, Antonelli won 13 out of the 20 Italian Formula 4 races and nine of 15 German Formula 4 races, securing both titles.

Away from winning both the FRECA and Formula Regional Middle East Championships in 2023, Antonelli made his debut in a Mercedes SLS GT3 at the Italian GT championship, winning first time out at Misano.

Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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