FIA lowers age of F1 super licence holders to 17 for drivers who have “demonstrated outstanding ability” in single-seaters

Photo Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team
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Andrea Kimi Antonelli could make his F1 debut before he turns 18, whether that is in a free practice session or a complete race weekend itself.

Following Max Verstappen making his F1 race bow at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix when he was 17, the FIA tightened the regulations on young drivers getting a certain super licence.

“The driver must be at least 18 years old at the start of the event of his first F1 competition,” they said in the international sporting code.

However, that has now been tweaked, with the following added in below.

“At the sole discretion of the FIA, a driver judged to have recently and consistently demonstrated outstanding ability and maturity in single-seater formula car competition may be granted a super licence at the age of 17 years old.”

The FIA also binned the rule which said that a driver must be “the holder of a valid driving licence when he applies for a super licence for the first time.”

There is no question that Antonelli could be one of the great drivers in the future if things go his way. The Italian driver has a phenomenal record in the lower categories.

He won the Italian and ADAC F4 championships in 2022, and the 17-year-old backed it up in FRECA last year by taking another title.

Antonelli made the big jump to Formula 2 this year, continuing his association with PREMA — he’s driven for them since his F4 days. Although there’s been no flashy results — in large part down to the struggles the team has had adapting to the new F2 cars — he sits P6 in the standings, 32 points off championship leader Paul Aron.

In early May, the FIA had confirmed they had received a request to give a special dispensation to the Italian driver. Mercedes denied it was them, leading to many assumptions that Williams had done so.

Antonelli turns 18 on the day of the Dutch Grand Prix, the first event after the summer break. If Williams decided to replace Logan Sargeant during after Spa, the PREMA driver could now drive for the team from Zandvoort onwards, before making the jump to Mercedes next year alongside George Russell.

If Sargeant stays, there is a good chance Antonelli will get to run in an FP1 session for Mercedes. With all teams required to run a rookie during two FP1s across the season, the Brackley-based squad has yet to fulfill it.

Antonelli has already privately tested F1 machinery at Imola, Silverstone and Barcelona, driving the W12.