Are Ferrari F1 Looking to Poach Away Mercedes’ Highly-Rated Academy Driver?

Published 06/29/2021, 6:30 AM EDT
SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W10 leads Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Scuderia Ferrari SF90 on track during qualifying for the F1 Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)


Mercedes and Ferrari are two of the most well-established teams in Formula One today. Although they differ in performance at the moment, their driver academies churn out some of the finest young racing drivers.

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However, it’s very rare to see a young driver involved with both these academies, which is the case with Mercedes junior Andrea Kimi Antonelli. The 14-year-old Italian driver will visit the Ferrari headquarters this week.

Mercedes junior Andrea Kimi Antonelli to take part in Ferrari scouting camp

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This week, Ferrari’s headquarters in Maranello plays host to a scouting camp for their driver academy. The Italian outfit traditionally invite drivers to their camp to try out for the Ferrari Driver Academy, and Antonelli is one of them.

Born in the Italian city of Bologna, he is one of the brightest international karting drivers today. The 14-year-old tasted success in various karting competitions around the world before signing for Mercedes’ junior driver program aged 12.

Since then, the Silver Arrows have raved about his talent, with CEO Toto Wolff keeping a close eye on him. This week, the Automobile Club d’Italia (ACI) nominated Antonelli to attend the FDA’s scouting camp this week. Besides the Italian, they also nominated Brando Badoer, the son of former Ferrari driver Luca Badoer.

Although this might seem like a conflict of interest, Mercedes’ Driver Development Advisor Gwen Lagrue clarified the situation. He said“Kimi is one of our Mercedes young drivers, he has been invited by the Italian federation.”

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Could we see any academy drivers on the F1 grid in 2022?

While George Russell and Charles Leclerc are two academy products excelling in F1, there are several young drivers waiting for their shot in F1. From the Ferrari Driver Academy, Callum Ilott looks to be next in line for making an F1 debut. The Briton is a test driver for Alfa Romeo this season after finishing runner-up to Haas F1 driver Mick Schumacher in the 2020 F2 season.

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BUDAPEST, HUNGARY – JULY 19: Mick Schumacher of Germany and Prema Racing speaks with Callum Illot of Great Britain and UNI-Virtuosi Racing after a press conference following the sprint race for the Formula 2 Championship at Hungaroring on July 19, 2020 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

However, Mercedes’ junior drivers seem further away from making F1 debuts in 2022, despite their wide pool of talent. If the current Formula 2 season is used for reference, championship leader Guanyu Zhou may also have a chance of getting an F1 drive next season.

The Chinese driver, who is part of Alpine’s driver academy, will test for Alpine F1 in Spielberg this weekend.

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Sanket Nair

371 articles

Sanket Nair is an F1 Author at EssentiallySports. A Sports Management student, he is a huge fan of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo and hopes to see Red Bull break Mercedes' dominance and win the World Championship soon. Sanket has been hooked to the sport ever since he watched the battle for the 2010 World Championship go down to the wire at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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