After the news that Lewis Hamilton will leave Mercedes in 2025 and find a new team, there have been rumors about who might replace the talented Briton. Many names are being mentioned, but among the current F1 drivers, it seems like there isn't a perfect fit. Toto Wolff, in a recent media interview, shared Mercedes' considerations for the 2025 season.
George Russell is expected to be the leader, but who will be his teammate? Surprisingly, Andrea Kimi Antonelli has emerged as a potential candidate. The 17-year-old Italian has garnered attention for his talent and skills. While Toto Wolff had positive words about the young Italian, he also mentioned that it might be too early to confirm Kimi as an option, as he still needs to overcome certain challenges before making his debut in F1.
“Kimi’s been with Mercedes since he was 11,” Wolff said, as quoted by planetf1.com
“He’s been in the junior programme, and his junior career was very successful.
I think what’s most important at this stage is that he concentrates on F2."
Wolff believes that it is too early to put pressure on such a young driver, given that he has overcome many obstacles in a short period. This young driver still needs experience to become part of the first team. He is confident in his talent, and while many have high expectations, Wolff doesn't want the pressure to negatively impact such a driver.
“If we start to spin his mind or unleash rumours in the media onto him, that’s not going to help his F2 campaign.
He’s just stepped out of karts a few years ago and he’s not even 18. So I would rather not start any speculation about Kimi going into Formula 1 at that stage.”
Aware that Mercedes has a great foundation and junior program, Wolff is not worried. Toto believes that there is still time to think about who is the best option for Mercedes next season. Wolff does not want to speed things up, nor make hasty decisions, considering that could be a big mistake.
“We have such a solid foundation,” he said.
“Such a quick and talented and intelligent guy in the car that we just need to make the right choice for the second seat. That’s not something I want to be rushed in.”
Toto Wolff talks about the options
Interestingly, Toto Wolff mentioned that drivers like Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc, who recently extended their contracts with McLaren and Ferrari, might have been interesting options for Mercedes. The situation at the end of 2024 is expected to be exciting, with some drivers becoming available and others recently signing contracts.
Norris and Leclerc are great drivers, as they have shown in the seasons behind us. One of them would certainly be a great addition to Mercedes. But for that to happen, many things must coincide. According to many, Leclerc seems like a more realistic option, but time will best show how much truth there is.
The timing of these opportunities could have been different if it occurred six weeks earlier. Looking ahead to 2024, 2025, and beyond, the driver market becomes very interesting for Mercedes.
Wolff stressed the importance of carefully considering the future and finding the best combination of drivers to partner with George. He emphasized taking time before making any commitments about when they will finalize their decisions.
Russell can be happy with the role he will have in the 2025 season. After the previous seasons and the current one in which he will not have a leadership role, George surely deserves to be a leader from next year. This great driver must be happy with the treatment from the Mercedes leader.
Mercedes already had the opportunity to face a similar situation earlier. After the sudden departure of Nico Rosberg, Mercedes had to find a replacement. Such an experience must have been important for the leaders of Mercedes at the time. Wolff emphasized how important timing is in the world of F1. Nevertheless, he is optimistic that things will turn out ideal for Mercedes, and that he will find an adequate replacement.
“In the same way we’ve embraced the Nico situation, and that was equally from one moment to the other unexpected, I’m really looking forward to making the right decisions for the team together with my colleagues in who’s going to be in the seat next year. And maybe it’s a chance to do something bold.
I guess that a few contracts have been signed a few weeks ago that we would have looked at that could have been interesting, but the timing here bit us a bit. But in a way, I always like change because change provides you with opportunity.”