Kimi Antonelli: Nico Rosberg thinks Mercedes and Toto Wolff must wait on Lewis Hamilton replacement candidate | F1 News

Sky Sports F1’s Nico Rosberg believes Mercedes must wait to see how Kimi Antonelli performs in Formula 2 before deciding if he replaces Lewis Hamilton in 2025.

Mercedes junior Antonelli is widely seen as a future F1 driver after winning multiple junior single-seater titles at the first time of asking since stepping up from karts to racing cars in 2021.

The 17-year-old is currently competing in his debut F2 season, after skipping F3, and is ninth in the standings ahead of this weekend’s races in Imola, live on Sky Sports F1.

Antonelli has been outperforming his British team-mate Oliver Bearman, who impressed for Ferrari when replacing Carlos Sainz at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in March.

He conducted tests in the 2021 Mercedes last month at the Red Bull Ring, then the 2022 car at Imola at the end of April.

“Antonelli is definitely a superstar of the future but unfortunately timing-wise it’s really too early for him, and especially too early for Toto to be able to make a decision on Antonelli,” said 2016 F1 world champion Rosberg.

“He needs to wait until somewhat later in the year as we see how Antonelli does in F2 also, because he does need a really strong season in F2 to make it a possibility for him to go straight to Mercedes.

“Otherwise, if anything, some time at Williams or a team like that would make sense.”

Kimi Antonelli
Kimi Antonelli is highly rated by many in the F1 paddock

Wolff denies Mercedes exemption request

Prior to the Miami Grand Prix, there was talk that Mercedes had made an exemption to the FIA in a bid to fast-track Antonelli to F1.

Antonelli does not have a superlicence, which is required to race in F1, as he’s yet to reach the minimum required age of 18.

He will turn 18 on August 25 this year, the same day as the Dutch Grand Prix. The Italian does have enough superlicence points, due to his championship success in junior motorsport categories, to race in F1.

Wolff says Mercedes have not asked for an exemption and is keen not to put pressure on Antonelli.

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Highlights of the Miami Grand Prix where Lando Norris became the 21st driver from the United Kingdom to win a Formula 1 race.

“It doesn’t do him any favours because he needs to concentrate on his F2 campaign. He’s doing lots of testing for us in order to bring him up to speed, and I think this decision of the second driver is weeks if not months away,” he said.

The Mercedes team principal has previously suggested Mercedes could be “bold” with who they decide to replace the departing Hamilton.

At last month’s Japanese Grand Prix, Wolff explained the two paths Mercedes are looking at for their second seat.

“You can look at it from various perspectives. I believe we are in a rebuild phase,” added Wolff.

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Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz reflects on all the big talking points from the Miami Grand Prix where Lando Norris claimed his first victory in Formula One.

“You need to acknowledge that now – three years into these regulations we’ve got to do things differently than we have done in the past, without throwing overboard what we believe is goodness in the way we operate.

“Rebuild could mean putting a young driver in there and giving him an opportunity with less pressure than fighting for victories immediately.

“Or putting a more experienced driver in the car that can help us dig ourselves out of the current performance picture, so both [approaches] go.”

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Just days after the Miami Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton hit the red carpet of the Met Gala amongst other sporting superstars such as tennis’ Williams sisters and NFL wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Vowles: Too early to decide on second Williams seat

Antonelli has also been linked to a Williams seat, so he can progress to Mercedes in the future in a similar fashion to George Russell.

Williams run Mercedes engines and their team principal James Vowles was part of the Silver Arrows for 12 years.

Alex Albon has a Williams contract for 2025 but Logan Sargeant’s current deal expires at the end of this season.

Sargeant has regularly been outperformed by Albon, but Vowles suggests Williams are not going to make a decision soon.

“Let’s put it this way. I haven’t spoken to Kimi since Abu Dhabi last year. Hopefully that puts it in context,” said Vowles.

“I know nothing about what’s going on at Mercedes’ tests right now. We are looking, as everyone else is, for where we want to be on driver line-up for next year and we have our own young driver programme.

“In the case of Kimi, I can’t really adjudicate on the level he’s at. In case of him coming into the car this year, I’ve always said from the beginning, it’s a meritocracy. Logan has to earn his seat.

“At the moment, he has some tough targets where he has to get much closer to Alex. But there is nothing on the radar at the moment for replacing him.”

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The 2019 rookie trio George Russell, Alex Albon, and Lando Norris reignite their karting days with an old-fashioned race!

Williams are yet to score a point this season and sit ninth in the constructors’ championship, ahead of Sauber on countback.

Vowles says he’s “sure there’s a desire” from Mercedes to put Antonelli at Williams to see how he fares but wants to focus on the car.

“We have far bigger problems to solve than drivers at the moment. Alex has done championship-level drives and at the moment he’s not scoring points and fundamentally we have it on us to improve our car going forward,” said Vowles.

“That’s my primary concern more than anything else and what we do with drivers going into 2025, 2026.

“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 1 car in such a short space of time.”

Sky Sports F1’s live Emilia Romagna GP schedule

F1 visits Europe for the first time in 2024 with the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola
F1 visits Europe for the first time in 2024 with the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola

Thursday May 16
1.30pm: Drivers’ Press Conference

Friday May 17
8:50am: F3 Practice
10am: F2 Practice
12pm: Emilia Romagna GP Practice One (session starts at 12.30pm)
2pm: F3 Qualifying
2:55pm: F2 Qualifying
3:45pm: Emilia Romagna GP Practice Two (session starts at 4pm)
5:30pm: The F1 Show

Saturday May 18
9am: F3 Sprint
11:15am: Emilia Romagna GP Practice Three
1.10pm: F2 Sprint
2.10pm: Emilia Romagna GP Qualifying build-up
3pm: Emilia Romagna GP Qualifying
5pm: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook
5.30pm: Indy 500 Qualifying

Sunday May 19
7.30am: F3 Feature Race
9am: F2 Feature Race
12:30pm: Grand Prix Sunday Emilia Romagna GP build-up
4pm: Chequered Flag: Emilia Romagna GP reaction
5pm: Ted’s Notebook
8pm: Indy 500 Qualifying

Formula 1 heads to Europe as Imola returns to the calendar following last year’s cancelled race. Watch the Emilia Romagna GP this weekend on Sky Sports F1.Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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