How Antonelli carried out below a brand new highlight after F2 breakthrough


Andrea Kimi Antonelli’s victory within the Method 2 dash race on the British Grand Prix not solely broke his duck within the championship to ease the pressure on his shoulders, however for the primary time it additionally thrust him into the media highlight – one thing the 17-year-old has up to now been protected against.

He carried out effectively as he confronted open questions with out the filter of his PR crew by his facet, however that is solely the beginning. The reversed grid win at Silverstone will solely encourage the hype-train – and with it the scrutiny and strain.

Since becoming a member of Mercedes’ junior programme in April 2019, Antonelli has attracted consideration however has been shielded by the Silver Arrows.

Till the flip of the yr, he was going about his enterprise and quietly impressing below the radar. He’d adopted up profitable each the Italian and German Method 4 titles in 2022 by claiming final yr’s Method Regional European Championship and bypassed Method 3 to reach on the F2 grid with Prema.

However his world modified when Lewis Hamilton dropped the bombshell firstly of the yr that he was quitting Mercedes for Ferrari. Consideration shortly turned to who Mercedes would decide as Hamilton’s alternative.

After seemingly ruling out Carlos Sainz, focus shifted to Antonelli, with momentum ramping up following non-public exams in April on the Crimson Bull Ring and Imola.

However regardless of the hypothesis and subsequent column inches assessing his potential for making it to Method 1, he had not spoken, nor have been media overtly invited to the exams. He was very a lot off limits.

Andrea Kimi Antonelli within the paddock

Photograph by: JEP / Motorsport Images

So it was with nice curiosity that following his victory at Silverstone, he would face the media as a part of his post-race necessities bestowed on the highest three finishers.

For background, the F2 press convention takes place in the identical auditorium inside The Wing at Silverstone as is utilized by F1. 

Whereas it’s normally standing room just for F1, normally for the F2 press convention there is perhaps one or two journalists current with others becoming a member of by the use of Zoom. Nonetheless after Antonelli’s win, the room was fuller than regular, drawing feedback from the digital camera operators unused to seeing such an attendance.

Antonelli spoke briefly with the press officer from his Prema crew and recorded a brief video message for F2’s social media earlier than taking his place on the couch in entrance of the press. He positioned his first-place trophy between his toes and dropped the half-finished bottle of Ferrari Trento behind the couch.

Moments earlier than, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and Susie Wolff had watched him on the rostrum. {The teenager} who mentors their son, Jack, was now an F2 race-winner.

The day past, Wolff had sat on the same sofa and explained how “a champion must be thrown within the chilly water and must swim” – this was one other a part of the method.

Curiously, no members of the Mercedes PR crew who’ve nurtured his profile so far have been current. He was on his personal going through the media.

So how did he cope? Very effectively, really. He spoke clearly, overtly and actually. He talked about his begin to the season and the way he had been responsible of constructing errors. How he wanted to up his recreation and refocus his consideration.

Andrea Kimi Antonelli drives Mercedes W12

Andrea Kimi Antonelli drives Mercedes W12

He additionally defined that he hoped the victory would now ease the rising burden on him. He was relieved and understandably so given what’s at stake – a spot on the F1 grid for 2025.

It was refreshing to listen to Antonelli in his personal phrases. His world has exploded since being linked with F1, but he appears remarkably assured.

“This yr has been fairly unusual, particularly as a result of all of it got here directly,” he mentioned.

“I am fortunate that I’ve good folks round me – I’ve my household, Mercedes and in addition my crew. They’ve been making an attempt to only shield me, particularly as a result of it’s so simple to crack below strain, particularly on this state of affairs.

“However I’ve to say that they’ve actually helped me to strive to deal with that as finest as attainable. I’m actually grateful for that, as a result of it has been fairly tough.

“However, because of them, I’ve been ready to deal with it fairly effectively.”

Mercedes have ready him effectively each from a media and a driving perspective. This was one other huge step for Antonelli’s improvement off observe.

Nonetheless, that is solely the beginning. For extra races, podiums and wins will invite extra focus and intrusions into his life, which might after all change into magnified significantly if he’s promoted to F1 as anticipated.

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