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Mercedes gave Hamilton quick F1 contract to maintain Antonelli choice open

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Final August, Hamilton signed a two-year contract with the workforce, which was broadly assumed to be mounted for the total time period and left open the chance for Mercedes to take Antonelli in 2026.

Nonetheless, Hamilton was able to use escape clauses to overlook the second 12 months and take up a proposal from Ferrari, leaving his seat free for 2025 and giving Mercedes the prospect to take Antonelli as early as subsequent 12 months.

Antonelli, who’s simply 17 years {old}, will make his Components 2 debut this season with Prema having gained Italian F4 in 2022 and the Components Regional European Championship with the workforce final 12 months.

Wolff has in contrast the scenario with 2014, when the workforce was eager to signal Max Verstappen however had nowhere to place him, whereas Pink Bull was in a position to supply him a Toro Rosso seat for the next 12 months.

“There was a scenario a few years in the past the place we had the chance to let Max drive,” Wolff informed Austrian broadcaster ORF. “And that wasn’t potential again then as a result of we merely did not have a cockpit.

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“[Nico] Rosberg and Hamilton had been tied to us long-term, and Pink Bull naturally seized the chance. They gave him a contract with Toro Rosso, with the potential of driving for Pink Bull the next 12 months.

“We then misplaced the younger driver, and you may see how profitable he has change into. 

“And exactly as a result of we’ve a junior on the horizon who is actually driving at a really excessive degree, I merely wished to maintain this feature open.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG

Photograph by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Wolff reiterated what he stated in a response to Autosport in Bahrain final week by stating that the newly-vacant 2025 seat shouldn’t be essentially being saved for Antonelli.

“That doesn’t imply that we are going to truly put Antonelli within the automotive subsequent 12 months,” he stated. “He’s 17 years {old}, and that may be a bit early. However with a view to the following 5 or ten years, I simply wished to have this feature.”

Concerning the Italian’s potential, he stated: “In a approach, he is a wonderkid. He gained every little thing there was to win in karting after which moved into F4. He gained all of the championships in his rookie 12 months, then moved up a degree and gained every little thing there too.”

“Now we have determined to skip F3, partly as a result of there’s not a lot time to check there. As a substitute, he’ll go straight into F2, which is a big leap for him. These are actually huge automobiles with energy. Many of the races are a part of the F1-supporting programme, so we’ll have a superb overview there too.”

Andrea Kimi Antonelli, Prema Racing

Andrea Kimi Antonelli, Prema Racing

Photograph by: Dutch Photograph Company

Wolff has confirmed that Antonelli will do some non-public operating in a 2022 automotive, noting that Mercedes will “run a giant check programme with him in 2024 after which we’ll see, is he prepared for 2025? Or for 2026, will there be a distinct scenario?”

The conundrum over opting to carry him again till 2026 is that it might require one other driver stepping in for 2025 solely, assuming that George Russell stays within the different seat and his contract is prolonged past subsequent 12 months.

Wolff stated that the driving force market will likely be “extremely fascinating, as a result of actually sturdy folks will likely be obtainable for 2025”, and that Mercedes will evaluation the scenario “over the following two or three races”.

He added: “Will we need to depend on expertise and maybe attempt one thing new? Or will we need to deal with youth and take the chance that we’ve a rookie after which have to take a look at this from a medium- to long-term efficiency perspective?”

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