Wolff Thrilled as Antonelli Prepares for First F1 Test

Kimi Antonelli’s emergence as a strong contender for the vacant Mercedes seat has garnered attention, especially as he demonstrates exceptional performance in the junior series.

Scheduled for later this month, Kimi Antonelli is poised to evaluate Mercedes equipment, prompting Toto Wolff to express his ‘pride’ in witnessing the young talent in an F1 car.

Andrea Kimi Antonelli has been a prominent figure in the F1 circuit this season, particularly following Lewis Hamilton’s decision to depart from Mercedes and join Ferrari in 2025, thereby leaving a coveted spot on the F1 grid vacant.

Numerous names have been tossed into the mix regarding who will share the cockpit with George Russell. Notable figures such as Max Verstappen, Esteban Ocon, and Fernando Alonso have been mentioned.

However, the spotlight has been on F2 newcomer Antonelli, who has been associated with Mercedes since his karting days at the age of 11.

The buzz surrounding the 17-year-old stems from his impressive track record in junior categories, boasting 31 victories and clinching four championships (FRECA, FRMEC, Italian F4, and ADAC) between 2022 and 2023.

Dominating the FRECA championship with two races remaining in 2023, Antonelli bypassed F3 entirely and secured a spot in PREMA’s F2 lineup.

Toto Wolff has identified Antonelli as a potential candidate but is awaiting the outcome of the Italian’s F2 campaign before making any decisions.

As Antonelli emerges as a top contender for the seat, Mercedes has announced his inaugural experience in an F1 car. Antonelli is slated to undergo a testing session on April 16th, piloting the W12 around the Red Bull Ring.

This session marks the beginning of several test sessions Antonelli will undertake this season, aimed at preparing him for the transition to F1. Following the exciting announcement, Wolff spoke with F1, expressing his ‘delight’ at seeing the young talent in an F1 car.

“But yeah, [the test] is going to be there with a 2021 car. We want to give him the feeling of what a really good car looks like, and then we are going to put him in the 2022 car to see what the difference is!

“I’m really keen and happy to see him in a Formula 1 car. He’s been with us since he was 11. I have a picture of him standing next to me on the center console as a baby boy in go-karting, and now to witness that development into a Formula 1 driver is something that I’m really proud of.”

Regarding the seat, Wolff also conveyed his intention to keep his options flexible. With the potential for Max Verstappen’s departure from Red Bull amid off-track allegations against Christian Horner, the German emphasized his willingness to wait and observe Verstappen’s course of action before reaching a decision.

He stressed that such a crucial decision would not be hastily made, asserting that it won’t unfold “in a few weeks.”

“I think we are going to wait on a decision. We have a few interesting options. The more we are able to assess how the season pans out, young drivers, slightly older ones, that’s not going to be a decision we want to take in the next few weeks, it’s rather a few months depending on where it goes.”