F1 LIVE NEWS:Did Mercedes lose Lewis Hamilton in Andrea Kimi Antonelli ‘glide path’?

Could Andrea Kimi Antonelli be an option for Mercedes to make a ‘bold’ move and replace Lewis Hamilton in 2025?

 

With Andrea Kimi Antonelli said to be the future of Mercedes, it has been asked if Mercedes dropped the ball in their succession plan to “glide” Lewis Hamilton out and the Italian in.

 

Hamilton surprised the Formula 1 paddock, no one more than his own team boss Toto Wolff, who sat down for breakfast with the Austrian to talk about the year ahead and informed him that it would be his last with the Silver Arrows.

 

Mercedes are now scrambling for a new driver for the 2025 season, Wolff admits he has a lot of questions racing through his mind, and this was the result of Mercedes refusing to commit to the seven-time World Champion long-term.

 

‘There’s going be some self-criticism at Mercedes as a result of this’

 

The saying ‘after the horse has bolted’ comes to mind.

 

Wolff added: “We are big boys. We knew that by signing a short-term contract, it could be of benefit for both sides. We couldn’t commit for a longer period.

 

“And he’s taken the option to exit. So in a way, you know, I totally, we totally, respect that. You can change your mind with different circumstances.”

 

Big boys or not, though, BBC journalist Andrew Benson wonders if Mercedes are about to be inundated with a whole new level of “self-criticism”.

 

After all, they left the door open for Hamilton’s exit by wanting to leave that same door open for when they wanted to put wunderkind Antonelli into the F1 team.

 

“There’s going be some self-criticism at Mercedes as a result of this,” he said on the BBC’s Chequered Flag podcast.

 

“There’s no question that this came about because obviously he got the offer from Ferrari but why was this tempting to him?

 

“One, maybe Ferrari was the better place to be competitive in the future. But two, Mercedes had messed him about on the length of the contract basically.

 

“He wanted more time. He was given a one-plus-one deal. That’s one year plus one option. The option was on his side we’re led to believe. Ferrari offered him two, maybe three years, plus more money.

 

“And for a racing driver like Lewis Hamilton who doesn’t need the money, he’s got more money than God basically, he… it’s a question of status in how much do you want me.

 

“I get there’s a young kid, a young Italian kid who’s coming up quickly through the junior formula called Andrea Kimi Antonelli, who everyone’s raving about.

 

“And the suspicion is that Mercedes were trying to plan a glide path where Hamilton glides out and this Antonelli kid glides in.

 

“Hamilton, you could understand, would think given his status ‘hang on a minute

 

Benson was joined by Sam Bird with the former Mercedes test driver declaring he was “very surprised that Mercedes have dropped the ball”.

 

Weighing in on Fernando Alonso’s jibe that 12 months ago racing for Ferrari was not Hamilton’s dream, former Mercedes test driver Sam Bird reckons in some way it is the dream of every single racing driver.

 

“If you’ve got a red crayon and you’re a kid and you like cars, you’re going to draw a Ferrari,” he said

 

“You have to say the right things according to where you are at that time.

 

“And, you know, he’s going to say, ‘my dream has always been driving a Ferrari’, because that’s where he’s going to go. Maybe that’s true. Maybe it’s not, maybe he’s saying that to please his new employers.

 

“You know, he had a dream of winning World Championships for Mercedes and he’s accomplished that. But certainly growing up for me, I also had that dream of racing for Ferrari and, okay, I raced for them in GTs and it is incredible.

 

“There’s something about Ferrari that’s very romantic. You go there and you think every single Ferrari road car that has ever been made has come out of that factory.

 

“The Formula 1 team sits just over the other side of a road. It’s incredible. It’s like nothing else you’ve ever seen.

 

 

Gideon Canice

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