Vowles dismisses rumours Antonelli will replace Sargeant at Williams F1 for Imola: “We have far bigger problems to solve than drivers at the moment”

Photo Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team
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The FIA has received a request to grant Andrea Kimi Antonelli a Super License under special conditions. According to the age limit set as rule following Max Verstappen’s debut as a 17-year-old in free practice at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix before his first race at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix.

Antonelli should wait until his 18th birthday on the 25th of August to become a license holder and thus fit for a full time Formula 1 driver.

The Italian is a Mercedes junior and has recently completed a two-day testing session at Imola in the W13, the first car designed under the current regulations.

Antonelli tested out two different car settings in his latest outing for the Silver Arrows, which followed his first taste of F1 machinery on April 17th at the Red Bull Ring in the W12.

The 17-year-old is regarded as one of the biggest talents outside of F1 right now as he as pretty much dominated in every single category since moving into single-seaters a couple of years ago. F2 has been a little trickier for him to master so far this year, nonetheless.

Paddock rumour has it that Williams might be the team interested in signing the young driver as a replacement for Logan Sargeant.

The American, in his sophomore Formula 1 season, has definitely had a difficult beginning of the year, featuring having to sit out the Australian GP to hand over his chassis to his more experienced teammate Alex Albon, who had crashed his own earlier in the weekend, and a costly crash in Suzuka once back behind the wheel of his FW46 during FP1.

Williams has strong ties to Mercedes, which is their powertrain supplier, and many drivers spent seasons at the team before joining the 8 times World Champions, including actual driver and former Mercedes Junior talent George Russell.

Team Principal James Vowles addressed this on Friday, coming out to deny it and brought up the fact that Williams has its own pool of young drivers to pick from.

“I know nothing about what’s going on with the Mercedes tests right now. We are looking, as everyone else is, for where we want to be on driver line-up for next year. And we have our own young driver programme.

“In the case of Kimi. I can’t really adjudicate at the level he’s at. In case of him coming into the car this year, I’ve always said from the beginning, it’s a meritocracy.

“Logan has to earn his seat and at the moment, he has some tough targets where he has to get much closer to Alex. But there is nothing on the radar at the moment for replacing him.”

However, Vowles also remarked the fact that right now the team’s main focus is on scoring points, considering that the tally is still 0 after five rounds in 2024.

The Grove-based team has had a really tough start to the season following a number of crashes that has delayed their development programme, as well as getting a spare chassis ready following a tight turnaround time to get the FW46 ready for Bahrain.

“We have far bigger problems to solve than drivers at the moment. Alex has done championship level drives and, at the moment, he’s not scoring points.

“Fundamentally, we have it on us to improve our car going forward. That’s my primary concern more than anything else.”