Toto Wolff drops another hint Mercedes will sign Kimi Antonelli for 2025

Antonelli is a highly-rated Mercedes junior linked to replacing Lewis Hamilton at the team in 2025

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Toto Wolff’s headache of replacing Lewis Hamilton might soon come to an end as the Mercedes team principal informs Carlos Sainz he’s focusing on Kimi Andrea Antonelli as their driver of the future.

Antonelli, who won the Formula Regional European Championship in 2023, has stepped up to Formula 2 and proven he can handle the level of competition, leaving all on-lookers impressed as he has the potential to be a generation-defining talent.

His meteoric rise has seen him catapulted into the conversation to replace the seven-time world champion as Wolff doesn’t want to miss out on another highly-rated youngster as he did with Max Verstappen in 2014, who seems to be the only man they would prefer over Antonelli.

But with the three-time Formula 1 world champion seeming likely to commit his future to Red Bull, the Austrian team principal now seems to be hedging his bets on the 17-year-old Prema driver to be in his car next year instead.

“We just want to concentrate on Kimi,” Wolff told Sky Germany at the 2024 Canadian GP. “That is our future, young drivers.

“We want to commit to that, to young drivers and that is what we’ve told Carlos.”

Kimi Antonelli’s First Mercedes Test in Austria | Mercedes
Kimi Antonelli’s First Mercedes Test in Austria | Mercedes

Sainz had been looking for a multi-year deal according to reports, which was something Mercedes were unwilling to agree to, as they keep one eye on Antonelli’s progress through junior series.

In fact, it’s part of why Hamilton quit the team to begin with as they offered him a one-plus-one deal before Wolff even confessed the plan was to put Antonelli in the car from 2026 anyway, leading to the 103-time race winner to abandon ship to Ferrari.

So it seems as though Verstappen is the only man left who could turn Wolff’s head and if Wolff cannot coax him away from Milton Keynes and his long-time rival, Christian Horner, then it will be Antonelli partnering George Russell from 2025.

Kimi Antonelli’s First Mercedes Test in Austria | Mercedes
Kimi Antonelli’s First Mercedes Test in Austria | Mercedes

Wolff rubbishes Antonelli comparisons

There has been a lot of chatter around Antonelli’s private tests with Mercedes and subsequent comparisons with Mick Schumacher, who raced in F1 for two years and serves as the team’s reserve, and George Russell.

Russell is set to inherit the leadership role of the team upon Hamilton’s exit, if it hasn’t already happened, so if Antonelli could be matching his pace then that would be an incredible achievement.

However, Wolff quickly shut down claims that the teenager is on the same pace as the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix winner who will have six seasons in the game under his belt when he completes 2024.

“They both completed the program that we gave them,” Wolff added, of the test between Schumacher and Antonelli. “And the performance was exactly what we expected.

“Some of this talk that Kimi was faster than George and much faster than Mick is absolute nonsense. They all drove different programs. All three were equally fast.

“George was by far the fastest and that’s the way it should be, but we ran our programmes. It was not about setting fast times.”

Brandon Sutton
Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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