Wolff wary of putting Antonelli under too much pressure: “He’s going to be in Formula 1 one day, but let’s not rush it”

Photo Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team
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Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff has admitted to focusing too much attention on their highly rated protege, Andrea Kimi Antonelli.

The Italian is the most talked about young driver and has enjoyed a glittering career on his way to Formula 2.

Antonelli won Italian F4 and FRECA before skipping FIA F3 to race at the second tier of motorsport.

“And we are a little bit guilty also about talking about him at that stage. And I think we should let him do his F2 thing and deliver results and not be too carried away with what could be or should be.”

Despite a promising CV for Antonelli, Mercedes’ young driver has yet to hit the headlines for PREMA in FIA F2 as the team has struggled for race pace, and they were absolutely nowhere in general in Bahrain.

The Italian is yet to score a podium after four rounds and made a race-ending mistake in the Sprint Race in Australia.

“We are hyping that young man for a long time now, and he’s. He will be a very good driver one day in Formula 1. But he’s 17, 40 months ago, he drove an F4 car. And there’s so much expectations in Italy.”

Reigning Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen had a similarly brief junior career to Antonelli. The Dutchman competed in just one season of FIA European F3 in 2014, his sole year of car racing, before making his F1 debut a year later.

The Austrian team boss acknowledged Antonelli’s blistering speed but is keen to give him time to develop.

“Look at George [Russell]. He’s won F3 and F2 in his rookie year. And at the same time, Kimi has delivered on those junior series. And he’s in F2 now. And so we’ll see. He’s going to be in Formula 1 one day, but let’s not rush it.”

Mercedes has many candidates to replace the outgoing seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Carlos Sainz, the driver Hamilton is replacing at Ferrari, will be available for 2025. Wolff said there is no need to rush when deciding Hamilton’s replacement.

“I think Carlos has his place in Formula 1; he has been a Ferrari race winner in the last two years and someone with huge experience. 

“I think what I said is we need to prepare to compromise on certain decisions and to wait long how the situation pans out over the summer and into autumn. 

“In George, we have a great driver that is with us. Fantastic. And then let’s see who’s going to be his teammate. But we don’t need to take this decision now.”