F1 Rumor: 17-Year-Old Prodigy Becomes Toto Wolff’s First Choice to Replace Lewis Hamilton

Published 02/12/2024, 6:00 AM EST

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Ever since Lewis Hamilton announced his move to switch to Ferrari in 2025, a countdown has started for Mercedes to find someone who can fill in the shoes of the 7-time world champion. With the ability to attract top drivers in the sport, Mercedes has quite a few options available to them, both from their own camp and from the outside. But Toto Wolff hinted that they might do something unexpected when he said Mercedes will go bold for 2025. And that seems to be the case because a recent report from The Race is suggesting that the 17-year-old Mercedes junior, Andrea Kimi Antonelli, is the top choice for replacing Hamilton in 2025.

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Kimi Antonelli, who is already being touted as the next Max Verstappen of the sport, has taken the Formula world by storm. Mercedes even let him skip Formula 3 altogether when they directly promoted him to F2 from Formula Regional. The Italian will be of age to be eligible for Formula 1 in 2025, and supposedly he already has enough super licence points to join F1 right now if he were 18. If he does well, in F2 this season, he might just be the perfect choice for the Brackley squad.

According to The Race, Kimi Antonelli will be the obvious choice for Mercedes because they missed out on the opportunity to sign Max Verstappen when he was 16 and was making the same impression young Kimi is making right now. At this point, Toto Wolff might not have the luxury to go down the usual path of loaning Kimi to one of Mercedes’ customer teams and get the F1 experience because many teams could be eyeing to grab him if Mercedes misses out.

Andrea Kimi Antonelli: Why Is There So Much Hype Around This Mercedes Junior Driver?

However, if Mercedes is to sign Kimi Antonelli they have to one major thing to consider.

Can George Russell lead Mercedes after Hamilton leaves?

While Kimi is just the right option if Mercedes wants to go bold in 2025, they need to be sure that George Russell is ready to take ownership of being a team leader. And for that, Mercedes needs to see how Russell fairs against Hamilton in 2024. Because after a rocky 2022 season, Hamilton clearly outclassed Russell in 2023, ending up 59 points clear of him. If it were not for Hamilton, Mercedes would’ve finished behind Ferrari.

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And that’s where someone like Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel comes into the picture for Toto Wolff. If for some reason, he doesn’t believe that Russell is ready to lead the team, he will need a proven race winner in the other car till the start of the new regulations in 2026. And who better than a multiple world champion to lead the team? Obviously, Mercedes has the kind of pull that would make any driver want to drive one of the Silver Arrows.

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Watch This Story | Lawrence Stroll’s 250 Million Worth Betrayal to ally Mercedes may not reap desired benefits. 

It all depends on the W15 I suppose. If that car is quick from the start, the season will get that much more interesting.

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Written by:

Veerendra Vikram Singh

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"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking." Hi there, I am Veer and I come from a family that lives and breathes football, but somehow I never could fit into that mold.
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Edited by:

Akash Pandhare

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