Nico Rosberg warns Mercedes against handing Andrea Kimi Antonelli 2025 seat

The German has predicted a bright future for the teenager but warned it could be too soon for his promotion to F1

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Mercedes have been urged to reconsider any plans to hand Andrea Kimi Antonelli a drive with the team in 2025 by their former Formula 1 driver Nico Rosberg.

Team principal Toto Wolff is searching for a replacement for Lewis Hamilton after the 39-year-old announced his decision to leave for their rivals Ferrari back in February. As a long-time member of Mercedes‘ young driver programme, Antonelli is one of the drivers believed to be on their shortlist and has impressed in recent private tests with the team.

Reports emerged that the FIA received a request to allow Antonelli to make his debut before his 18th birthday, although Mercedes confirmed it was not submitted by them.

Rosberg, who hailed the 17-year-old as a talent for the future, thinks it is too early for the Italian starlet to make the step up to Mercedes, and floated the idea of joining Williams for a year like George Russell did.

Nico Rosberg (L) raced for Mercedes between 2010 and 2016. | Mercedes F1 Team

Antonelli is definitely a superstar of the future. But unfortunately the timing is too early for him,” Rosberg told Sky Germany. “And [it is] too early for Toto to choose Antonelli.”

The 2016 world champion added: “That’s asking a lot, because he hasn’t shown anything in Formula 2 yet. That’s the minimum requirement to do well in Formula 2 in order to be considered for Formula 1. Therefore, Toto has to take his time with this strategy and wait until summer or autumn for the decision.”

Rosberg casts doubt on Sainz

Antonelli is not the only driver to have been considered for the seat, with Sebastian Vettel regarded as a potential short-term option if he decides to come out of retirement, while a return for former Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas cannot be ruled out if he leaves Sauber.

The most obvious candidate would be Carlos Sainz, who has been left without a drive for 2025 after Hamilton’s move to the Scuderia.

The Spaniard has proven his pace this season with one victory and two podium finishes in five races, and it is understood he may favour joining the Silver Arrows over Sauber as they prepare to be taken over by Audi from 2025.

However, Rosberg, 39, has raised doubts about the Spaniard’s suitability due to his likely demands for a longer deal, which would block Antonelli’s pathway to driving for the team.

“He [Sainz] probably wants a multi-year contract and that doesn’t make much sense from Mercedes’ point of view,” Rosberg said. “That’s what makes it so difficult and that’s why Toto is looking closely at how things are going with Antonelli.”

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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