FIA request could see Andrea Kimi Antonelli F1 debut soon as Mercedes plan takes shape

The Italian youngster has been linked with a race seat with Williams in 2025, but it could happen sooner rather than later.

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The FIA have reportedly received a request for special dispensation to allow Andrea Kimi Antonelli to make his Formula 1 debut this season, before he turns 18 in August.

The 17-year-old has been earmarked for a bright future in motorsport by Toto Wolff and reports suggest he could Logan Sargeant, who has continued to struggle in his second season with the team, at the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola on May 19.

The American has scored only one point in 27 races with the team and Antonelli’s connections with Williams‘ engine supplier, Mercedes, could land him a seat quicker than the original 2025 timeline if the FIA approve the move. He has also been linked with replacing the departing Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.

According to RaceFans, the FIA is ‘considering’ the request, although a Mercedes team spokesperson confirmed they are not seeking a rule change or dispensation for him to make an early debut in F1.

Logan Sargeant, James Vowles, Williams F1 | Williams Racing
Logan Sargeant (R) could be replaced by Antonelli at Williams. | Williams Racing

A rule was introduced in 2016 preventing drivers under the age of 18 from competing in F1, shortly after Max Verstappen made his debut with Toro Rosso at 17 years old.

Antonelli does not turn 18 until August and, in any case, a change in their driver lineup will not happen quickly due to the necessary protocols in place that must be followed to get the move approved.

The FIA have also been defiant in standing firm on its superlicence restrictions, especially when it rejected a request from Red Bull to allow Colton Herta to race with its sister team, AlphaTauri, now renamed as Visa Cash App RB.

Unlike Antonelli, Herta was old enough to race but did not have the necessary 40 points needed on his superlicence. Antonelli currently has 67 points on his superlicence.

Williams could wreck Antonelli plan

Antonelli is currently driving in the Formula 2 series for Prema Racing, but the highly-rated starlet – who has drawn comparisons with Max Verstappen – is part of Mercedes‘ young driver programme.

He is reportedly on the shortlist of drivers to replace Lewis Hamilton at the Silver Arrows in 2025, when he would be old enough to race, although there are doubts as to whether the teenager would be able to make the step up from F2 to F1.

Antonelli lies ninth in the F2 standings after making his debut in the series this year, having won the Formula Regional European and Middle East championships in 2023. He has been handed the chance to impress in private tests held at Silverstone, and it is believed Mercedes were taken aback by his impressive lap times.

But when asked in the team bosses’ press conference on Friday if Antonelli could join Williams, team principal James Vowles cast doubt over whether is ready for his projected move into F1.

“There are options on the table, but it is far too early to tell,” Vowles told members of the press in Miami, including Total-Motorsport.com. “In the sense of Kimi, you have to remember it’s just 20 months ago, he was in a Formula 4 car. That’s a large, large step up into a Formula One car in such a short space of time.”

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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