Mercedes Boss Toto Wolff Discusses the Future of Andrea Kimi Antonelli in Detail

Andrea Kimi Antonelli has been the topic for weeks, with emphasis on the possibility of him joining Mercedes next season

by Sead Dedovic
Mercedes Boss Toto Wolff Discusses the Future of Andrea Kimi Antonelli in Detail
© Robert Cianflone/Getty Images Sport

The name of Lewis Hamilton's potential successor has been circulating for months. It's difficult to make a proper assessment of who could succeed the Briton, especially since Mercedes executives don't seem certain about who would be the right replacement for Hamilton

One of the candidates for the vacant seat next season is 17-year-old Andrea Kimi Antonelli. The 17-year-old is currently part of F2, and rumors that the FIA has received a request for dispensation for Antonelli to compete in F1, even though he's not yet 18, have caused quite a stir. 

Toto Wolff, Mercedes boss, immediately decided to respond to such rumors. The Austrian confirmed that Mercedes had not sent any requests, emphasizing that Antonelli needs a certain period in F2. Wolff stresses that Antonelli needs an adaptation period and that it's too early to talk about his debut in F1.

"The dispensation was something that wasn't brought up by us and we have certainly stated from the beginning that that was not something we have pursued," -Toto Wolff told Motorsport, as quoted by!

Mercedes' leaders want to monitor his progress and see which direction his career will take. At this moment, it's too early to make predictions about whether the young Italian can achieve great things in the world of F1. Some believe that Antonelli must progress step by step. Skipping certain steps can lead to negative consequences. Mercedes' leaders are aware of this.

"I don't know where this belief comes from that Mercedes was keen on pushing that forward. Kimi needs to concentrate on his F2 campaign and he knows that.

Everything else is just rumours, which continue to spin around and that are factually incorrect. He's an F2 driver for Prema, that is what he's doing, and this is what we're all concentrating on."- he continued.

Toto Wolff
Toto Wolff© Mark Thompson/Getty Images Sport

Toto Wolff emphasized that considering Antonelli's young age and recent entry into higher-level racing, it might be premature for him to immediately transition to Mercedes.

Wolff emphasized that 15 months ago, Antonelli was part of F4. Although they've long recognized his talent and potential, the team's leaders are wary of making hasty decisions that could backfire. Sometimes it's necessary to be patient, wait for progress, and then make a definitive decision. Wolff spoke precisely about such a career trajectory for a young driver.

Wolff highlights that rumors about Antonelli cannot disrupt Mercedes' plans for the upcoming period, but he's not pleased with the weekly inquiries regarding Antonelli and his future. The Mercedes boss underscores that Mercedes isn't a team that makes impulsive decisions. The priority is to give him a chance in F2 and see how he performs at this stage. Toto believes that the team has a lot of issues to address besides considering a driver for the next season.

Wolff explains that the progress of the teenager is in line with their expectations and planned trajectory. 

If Antonelli weren't a quality driver, there certainly wouldn't be this much talk about him and his future in one of the biggest F1 teams in the world. The 17-year-old possesses immense talent, noticed by both experts in this sport and some of the legends of F1.

Wolff mentions that there are both good and challenging days in the development process. These challenges need to be addressed by both the drivers and the team, but they are not unexpected. The testing phase is progressing well, and they are approaching it with a calm and collected mindset.

Before the season, they had planned for a solid F2 campaign and testing for Mercedes, and they intend to stick to this plan. Anything beyond this plan is considered a distraction.

Toto Wolff is happy with Goerge Russell

Wolff expresses satisfaction with George Russell's performance and confirms his continuation as a driver in the team. He suggests that any further developments in the driver market won't happen in the immediate future, indicating that they are focused on their current plans for now.

Mercedes isn't a naive team unaware of the F1 landscape. The team's leaders are well aware of the challenges that come with F1 and understand the importance of approaching the situation rationally and patiently. Given the crisis they've been in for the past two years, the German team must make the right moves if they want to dethrone Red Bull. 

Russell is a driver from whom even better things are expected in the future, but the question remains: who will be his teammate in the upcoming period? Having Hamilton as a teammate is significant, but now there's a chance that Russell will be the one mentoring someone younger and leading this team.

Mercedes Toto Wolff