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Kimi Antonelli among Williams 2025 candidates

Kimi Antonelli, who is already dominating F1 news headlines, is a candidate to join next year’s Williams driver lineup.

There is no shortage of drivers negotiating with teams behind the scenes for a place in Formula 1. More so than in previous years, there are a multitude of F2 talents being considered for a promotion. Kimi Antonelli is among them, with the Mercedes junior linked with a move to both the Silver Arrows and – more conservatively – Williams.

James Vowles faces an important decision regarding his driver line-up for next season. Twelve months ago, Logan Sargeant generally enjoyed the leniency awarded to rookies in modern F1. At least initially, the narrative surrounding Williams was almost entirely focused on their encouraging performance and Alex Albon’s solid results.

In the later stages of the year, Sargeant’s future became an increasingly examined topic. Still, the Grove-based team elected to extend his contract for another season.  Less than six months later, James Vowles’ driver line-up is already a big talking point. Of course, this is not unique to Williams. Most teams are in talks with several candidates.

Still, an additional factor intensifying the focus on Williams is Kimi Antonelli. The 17-year-old is participating in numerous tests with Mercedes, who are evaluating his readiness for Formula 1. Later in 2024, he will compete in Free Practice sessions to accumulate more experience in F1 machinery.

Typically, someone who just three weekend in F2 would not be mentioned as an F1 candidate so ever. However, Antonelli is an exception. His junior career is nothing short of exceptional, and Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes exit has intensified Toto Wolff’s efforts to gauge his abilities.

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Williams evaluating Antonelli, among other drivers

Of course, there is also the option that Williams signs the youngster for 2025 – giving him valuable track time in a lower-risk environment. James Vowles has responded to questions from the media about this possibility:

“What we’re doing at the moment is evaluating drivers for 2026 and 2025, and what we really want is the right driver pairing for those two years.

“Because when you go through a regulation change, you really don’t want to be changing drivers in 2026. So you’re looking for the right pairing for that period of time.

“There’s no doubt he’s got huge skill to him, but he was in a Formula 4 car 20 months ago. That’s where he is, it’s a very different proposition to most.

“We’ve been talking to four or five drivers at the moment for that period of time, and I’m quite happy to sit back a little bit and wait.”

Ultimately, there are more experienced drivers available. Someone like Valtteri Bottas represents a safer option. Moreover, taking Antonelli for a few seasons would – in many ways – highlight that Williams is still playing a supporting role for Mercedes.

As he works to push Williams to the front, James Vowles must weigh up various factors before making his 2025 decision.

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