Mercedes intensify Kimi Antonelli F1 preparations

Mercedes wants to gather all the data possible on Kimi Antonelli in F1 machinery. Antonelli is heavily considered for a 2025 F1 seat.

Kimi Antonelli is being put through a rigorous test programme by Mercedes. The Silver Arrows are working to assess the 17-year-old’s performance in F1 cars ahead of a crucial decision for 2025. Lewis Hamilton’s departure has put Mercedes in an uncomfortable position, but team principal Toto Wolff sees an opportunity to set new foundations at Brackley.

Risk assessment is an important aspect of F1, especially for young drivers rising up the ranks. Only by gauging a driver’s abilities can a team decide when and if they should join the grid. Traditionally, the German constructor has enjoyed the luxury of a stable driver line-up. This allowed them to send any academy prospects to Williams, where they had an opportunity to develop in relative security.

Unfortunately for Toto Wolff, this luxury has largely been taken away. There is a vacancy in the team for next season, and a big decision lies ahead. Established drivers like Carlos Sainz are available, whilst a blockbuster move for Max Verstappen is not out of the question.

Toto Wolff has spoken extensively about the possibility of luring the Dutchman away from Red Bull. In the aftermath of Newey’s exit, the triple World Champion is perhaps less committed to the Milton Keynes squad than in previous years.

Kimi Antonellis erster Test – Österreich

Kimi Antonelli tests in F1 machinery

However, behind closed doors, Mercedes has kept an unwavering focus on Kimi Antonelli. The Italian driver was promoted to Formula 2 last season, skipping the Formula 3 category altogether. The Silver Arrows made this decision to accelerate his progress well before Hamilton’s departure was even on the radar, outlining their belief in Antonelli’s abilities.

With a seat for next season undecided, there is extra impetus for Mercedes to assess Antonelli’s abilities. After all, as outlined by their team principal, their current on-track performance means that (hypothetically) the youngster could make his debut in a less high-stakes environment.

It feels somewhat unfair to mention Antonelli in F1 conversations so early. The 17-year-old has barely gotten up to speed in Formula 2. Still, his tests with Mercedes in Austria and Imola over the last few weeks validate the enthusiasm Toto Wolff has shown in media declarations.

Antonelli completed over 100 laps in the W11 at Austria before getting up to speed with the W13 and ground-effect cars in Imola.

The Mercedes junior is seen as someone whose ascent into F1 is inevitable. At Brackley, the question is whether a smoother path to the Italian, perhaps at a team like Williams, is available. Of course, spending another year in Formula 2 would be a perfectly reasonable option.

That said, Antonelli’s rigorous testing schedule is indicative of someone whose entry into Formula 1 is already seen as a given. The only question is where and when Mercedes makes the call anticipated by everyone in the paddock.

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