Antonelli’s first F2 races key to chance of replacing Hamilton

Andrea Kimi Antonelli’s progress in his first Formula 2 races will influence whether Mercedes considers him a potential replacement for Lewis Hamilton.

 

 

Team principal Toto Wolff is reluctant to put their star junior driver under pressure but indicated he is under consideration to take the seven-times champion’s seat when he leaves to join Ferrari.

 

“We’ve got that curveball thrown at us with Lewis in the beginning of February and I want to do the opposite when choosing the driver for next year,” said Wolff. “It’s clear Kimi has been in our junior academy since he was 11 and we have great pleasure in watching him grow as a young man and growing through the ranks.

 

“But I also want to take a little bit of pressure off him. He’s just 17, he’s won everything he needed to win in his rookie season. And I think he’s going to be in Formula 1 and he’s going to be a very successful driver in Formula 1.

 

“But he hasn’t started his Formula 2 campaign yet. He had a difficult test in the first days in Bahrain and we shall see how this develops.

 

“That’s why I want to wait for the first few races that are actually overlaying with Formula 1, [see how they] are going to go.”

 

The possibility of Antonelli making his F1 debut with a front-running team like Mercedes has invited comparisons with Hamilton’s debut 17 years ago. Hamilton won the GP2 (now F2) series as a rookie, arrived in F1 with McLaren in 2007 and came within a point of winning the world championship in his debut season.

 

The shock news of Hamilton’s impending move to Ferrari has triggered widespread speculation over who might replace him. But Wolff stressed he will take his time over his decision.

 

“There’s many very good pilots in Formula 1 available for next year also and this is all going to come into the equation when deciding on the driver line-up for next year. But that’s not going to happen any time soon.”

 

 

 

ah yes, let’s put even more pressure on the little guy, otherwise there won’t be much time left in his career for a place at the team. Just give the seat to Alonso and sign the guy as reserve already if you are worried to lose him to other teams

 

 

I think hulkenberg would be ok with that, I doubt alonso would though, he knows it’s very unlikely that mercedes would have a championship winning car the 1 year he’s there: alonso would want a longer term contract, while hulk could just be happy with finally getting his first podium, which merc basically guarantees, and a chance on a win.

 

 

Gideon Canice

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