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Antonelli Fast-Tracked for Mercedes F1 Test at Imola

Teen Sensation Kimi Antonelli Set for F1 Test with Mercedes

28/03/2024

At just 17, Kimi Antonelli is being rushed into a Formula 1 test by Mercedes, potentially replacing Lewis Hamilton.

Toto Wolff’s 17-year-old protégé, a leading candidate to replace Lewis Hamilton next year, will make his debut in a 2022 car at Imola.

The team has rented the track for the upcoming Easter weekend, although this has not been officially confirmed.

The goal? To quickly determine whether Antonelli is a viable contender for 2025 or if he indeed needs a second season in Formula 2. This way, Wolff will have all the information needed to make a decision.

A decision that might need to be made sooner rather than later, as Wolff has hinted in recent hours that Max Verstappen is “his priority” should he choose to leave Red Bull. If not, the decision might come down to choosing between Alonso, Sainz, or Antonelli, with the first two unlikely to wait indefinitely, especially since they could also replace Perez at Red Bull if the opportunity arises.

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“Maybe Max can really win at Mercedes,” speculates 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve.

“He is so superior to the others. I wouldn’t be surprised if he puts a few tenths on George, something Lewis can no longer do.”

However, a “more probable” replacement for Hamilton, according to him, would be a Spaniard – either Fernando Alonso or Carlos Sainz.

“He is a very mature and intelligent driver,” Villeneuve said of Sainz. “But can he find that extra tenth that Verstappen can?”

But what complicates matters for Wolff is that his Red Bull counterpart, Christian Horner, has already had “serious conversations” with Alonso. Interestingly, such discussions are usually handled by Helmut Marko when it comes to driver politics, further evidence of an ongoing power struggle.

For Horner, Alonso would merely be “a contingency plan” should Verstappen and Dr. Helmut Marko actually leave. And not for a partnership with Verstappen.

“You absolutely cannot put Max and Fernando next to each other,” says Christijan Albers, a former F1 driver. “It would not go well at all.”

“Everyone might say Alonso has mellowed a bit, but he would not let himself be destroyed in his last year of Formula 1.”

Antonelli Fast-Tracked for Mercedes F1 Test at Imola. Antonelli Fast-Tracked for Mercedes F1 Test at Imola

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