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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

The Italian teen hoping to turn out to be Mercedes’ subsequent F1 famous person

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The leafy glades of Imola’s public park play host this weekend to the opening spherical of the 2023 System Regional European Championship by Alpine, and the 2 races – one on Saturday, one on Sunday – will correctly seize the eye of single-seater aficionados and expertise spotters.

From time to time a younger driver comes alongside surrounded by a large buzz: suppose Max Verstappen within the 2014 System 3 European Championship; Mika Hakkinen in British F3 in 1990; or a sure Ayrton Senna da Silva within the early Nineteen Eighties. And now now we have one once more.

Like Verstappen, Andrea Kimi Antonelli is 16 years {old} as he embarks upon his maiden pan-European championship in vehicles. Not like Verstappen, who didn’t turn out to be a Pink Bull Junior till the center of his F3 season, the Italian has the patronage of a high System 1 staff within the type of Mercedes. And likewise not like Verstappen, he already has one full season in vehicles below his belt; one through which he received no fewer than 26 races.

Antonelli makes the commencement, for which he stays with Prema Racing, because the reigning Italian System 4 champion, the ultimate German F4 title winner, and likewise the F4 Motorsport Games gold medallist. What’s extra, once more below the steerage of Prema, he’s already turn out to be a champion in 2023 after a hotly contested FRegional Center East Championship.

The Bolognese moved below the wing of the Mercedes F1 staff on the age of 12. The squad’s junior driver chief – its Helmut Marko if you happen to like – is Frenchman Gwenael Lagrue, who has been in Prema’s orbit since he managed Guillaume Moreau within the {old} F3 Euro Collection.

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He then went on to be a chief mover on the Gravity Sport Administration/Lotus F1 Junior secure, the place he guided Esteban Ocon from karting to the European F3 crown with Prema in 2014. After he joined Mercedes in 2015, Lagrue was key to Ocon arriving in F1, signed up George Russell, offered appreciable assist to Alex Albon, and has additionally positioned extra of the Three-Pointed Star’s juniors at Prema, together with Frederik Vesti (now in FIA F2) and Paul Aron (FIA F3).

Ask Prema boss Rene Rosin in regards to the arrival of Antonelli at his squad in the summertime of 2021, and he acknowledges: “With Gwen we’ve at all times received relationship. When he was asking me about Kimi, in fact it turned every little thing simple, as a result of he’s one of the vital promising junior drivers, and we at all times wish to work with younger drivers, much more if he’s Italian.”

Antonelli makes the commencement to FRECA because the reigning Italian F4 champion and ultimate German F4 title winner

Photograph by: Prema Powerteam

Antonelli grew up surrounded by the game, and Rosin – for whom the identical is true – says that “in Italy, you say that he’s any individual who has grown up on the bread of motorsport”. His father Marco raced a BMW M3 within the early years of Tremendous Touring in Italy three many years in the past, and nonetheless competes often in sportscars. He’s the chief of Antonelli/AKM Motorsport, which has loved loads of success over time in sportscar racing and likewise operates an F4 staff.

No surprise Kimi, as he’s identified, is nuts in regards to the sport, to the extent that, throughout his F4 season final yr, he abruptly arrived on the Le Mans 24 Hours, the place Prema was competing for the primary time.

“He’s humble, he’s very simple to work with, he what he’s doing,” laughs Rosin. “On a free weekend, a 15-year-old child travelled on their very own to Le Mans to see the 24 Hours – to try this it’s important to be actually fanatical about motorsport, and final yr he has achieved that!”

Sadly, a collision in qualifying for the Motorsport Games at Paul Ricard final October left him with a fractured wrist. But he nonetheless competed, and received each races. However for his commencement to FRegional, in response to Rosin, “mainly he misplaced all of the winter preparation.

Like Verstappen with Ocon, Hakkinen with Mika Salo, and Senna with Martin Brundle, the eye on Antonelli may refract upon one other

He did simply two days in Mugello and two days in Barcelona, however in Barcelona it was very step-by-step into the System Regional as a result of we didn’t know the way nicely he could be with the fracture on his arm.” Then he went to the Center East, and received the Regional title. “There he was very excellent, as a rookie, doing what he has achieved in opposition to rather more skilled drivers,” provides Rosin.

With such a outstanding F4 document, why not go straight to F3? “It may be a chance as Ollie Bearman has achieved, however Kimi continues to be 16,” says Rosin. “He won’t be prepared for System 1 in two years, so higher to do every little thing step-by-step, doing the right stuff, doing the right ladder, having the prospect of testing, as a result of when you arrive in System 3 and System 2 you can not take a look at anymore. Use the FRECA to do quantity of mileage, to study two quali per occasion, two races per occasion, and put together your self for the longer term.

“You arrive in System 3, you do nicely, you go to System 2 and you might be good, and then you definately don’t have the age to go to System 1 otherwise you don’t have the expertise to go to System 1. Simply do what is required to develop up mentally, bodily.”

Antonelli will commence his FRECA campaign this weekend at Imola

Antonelli will start his FRECA marketing campaign this weekend at Imola

Photograph by: Diederik van der Laan / Dutch Photograph Company

Like Verstappen with Ocon, Hakkinen with Mika Salo, and Senna with Martin Brundle, the eye on Antonelli may refract upon one other. Alongside him at Prema are Ferrari junior Rafael Camara and FRegional veteran Lorenzo Fluxa. Elsewhere are promising drivers akin to Kas Haverkort, Dilano van’t Hoff and Tim Tramnitz. Can they journey up Antonelli?

“The child is sweet, the child is unbelievable, the child has a giant coronary heart, which is one thing essential,” enthuses Rosin. “We have to look day-to-day doing one of the best as a lot as we will, and solely with that we will see what the longer term will convey. Nothing is written, he simply has to ask himself to put in writing his future.”

Andrea Kimi Antonelli is 16 years old as he embarks upon his maiden pan-European championship in cars

Andrea Kimi Antonelli is 16 years {old} as he embarks upon his maiden pan-European championship in vehicles

Photograph by: ACI Sport



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