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Talking from expertise, Hamilton backs Antonelli as his Mercedes F1 successor

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Mercedes continues to be ready to see if it will probably in some way persuade Max Verstappen to affix the group as Pink Bull’s energy performs drag on, however as time goes on it has turn out to be clear that Antonelli may nicely be its man for the long run.

On Thursday at Imola, Hamilton mentioned he would put the Italian teenager within the automotive if it had been his name.

“Truthfully, I do not know what Toto [Wolff]’s plans are however I believe for me taking up a teenager could be [the way to go]. If it was my job, I’d in all probability tackle Kimi,” the seven-time world champion mentioned.

However as a lot as taking up a rookie has not been Mercedes’ modus operandi, maybe the celebrities have by no means aligned so nicely to place its religion into one this time.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W15

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Photograph by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The religion is there

Mercedes’ latest actions are suggesting Hamilton’s considering is not far off that of his employer. Ever since his bombshell transfer to Ferrari for 2025 was introduced, Mercedes has been accelerating its improvement path for its 17-year-old protege.

That included non-public checks with its 2021 and 2022 equipment through the giant hole between the F2 rounds in Melbourne and Imola, with additional testing deliberate.

There was even a dispensation request to grant the Italian an FIA superlicence earlier than his minimal age of 18, however group principal Toto Wolff rapidly shut down any rumours that Mercedes was behind it or that he would even be keen to throw Antonelli in an F1 seat within the quick time period.

Having skipped F3 to leap straight into F2 with Prema from FRECA, Antonelli is dealing with a steep studying curve however has carried out nicely thus far in opposition to his extra skilled team-mate Oliver Bearman, the 19-year-old who impressed the world together with his excellent Ferrari cameo in Jeddah.

Antonelli is ninth after three weekends, with Prema having struggled to repeat its traditional dominance thus far, however a fourth place in Australia’s dash reveals each he and the Italian powerhouse are beginning to get there.

“It is fully on the trajectory that we anticipated,” Wolff instructed Autosport in Miami about his protege’s progress.

“There are simpler days, there are more durable days. I believe between the 2 drivers and the group, they should type out a couple of points, nevertheless it’s not sudden. And the testing goes very nicely and we’re simply approaching it calm and picked up.

Andrea Kimi Antonelli, Mercedes testing at Imola

Andrea Kimi Antonelli, Mercedes testing at Imola

Photograph by: Davide Cavazza

Stability is vital

As evidenced by the newest flurry of driver offers in latest weeks and months, groups are considering long-term when nailing down contracts into the 2026 laws period.

Hamilton, Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, Nico Hulkenberg and now Alex Albon have all signed up for 2026 and presumably past as groups goal to place all of the items of the puzzle collectively to steal a march on their rivals with the all-new automobiles and energy items. A steady driver pairing means one other variable is taken off the board for what can be by far the largest regulation change since 2009, and presumably the largest ever.

Williams group boss James Vowles has equally argued he’s solely fascinated about what Williams can obtain from 2026 onwards, so he would in all probability not be fascinated about taking Antonelli on mortgage for a single season in 2025 and solely be eager on a multi-year mortgage.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15

Photograph by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

A decrease stress debut

The 2 squads have a historical past with the above, with Merc sending George Russell to Williams for 3 seasons to study the commerce, which turned out to be a win-win state of affairs for each squads. Russell returned a extra mature, well-rounded driver able to race alongside and sustain with Lewis Hamilton, whereas Williams acquired the next calibre prospect than its disappointing performances on the time commanded.

Russell’s three-year mortgage additionally mentioned one thing about Mercedes’ reticence to throw a younger cub right into a high automotive, and its earlier driver selections additionally leaned in direction of expertise.

However issues could be completely different this time, as a result of Mercedes now not has a automotive able to combating for the world championship. And it in all probability should not have notably excessive hopes of getting one in 2025 both, as few individuals within the paddock consider anybody will catch Pink Bull earlier than the ‘Nice Reset’ of 2026.

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Inevitably, the highly-rated phenom is about to attract a frenzy of consideration as Mercedes already struggles to decelerate the hype prepare proper now, however 2025 would the right time to mattress in Antonelli at Brackley and let him acquire expertise with out the necessity to set the world on fireplace. If he continues to study as rapidly as he has carried out thus far, he may nicely be totally up and working by 2026.

Hamilton is aware of what he is speaking about when he is backing Antonelli. In spite of everything, the Briton himself was vaulted straight right into a McLaren when he made his much-anticipated F1 debut in 2007.

That danger paid off then for McLaren. It would nicely pay of once more Mercedes.

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