Mercedes’ teen weapon: Antonelli’s surprise F1 test

Mercedes is accelerating Kimi Antonelli’s transition into Formula 1 by organizing a test session in a 2022 model at Imola. As reported by Corriere dello Sport, the 17-year-old, mentored by Toto Wolff and seen as a strong candidate to fill Lewis Hamilton’s shoes next year, will get his first experience behind the wheel over the Easter weekend. While the team has booked the track, this development awaits formal confirmation.

Despite Wolff’s preference for Max Verstappen for the 2025 slot, Jacques Villeneuve, the 1997 world champion, muses, “Maybe Max really can win at Mercedes.” However, speculation suggests that a Spanish driver, either Fernando Alonso or Carlos Sainz, is more likely to step into Hamilton’s role.

Villeneuve commends Sainz’s maturity and intelligence, questioning, “But can he find that extra tenth that Verstappen can?” On the other hand, Marc Surer, another former F1 driver, expressed reservations about Alonso’s capacity to seamlessly take over from Hamilton, mentioning to that Alonso, at 42, “is no longer one of the absolute top drivers.”

Adding to Wolff’s challenges, it’s known that Christian Horner, Wolff’s counterpart at Red Bull, has engaged in “serious conversations” with Alonso. Erik van Haren, a journalist from De Telegraaf, found it noteworthy that “What’s really interesting is that Helmut Marko normally has those sorts of conversations when it comes to driver policy.”

Christian Albers, also a former F1 driver, views Alonso as “simply a contingency plan for Horner,” especially if Verstappen and Dr. Helmut Marko decide to leave due to internal disputes. Albers humorously remarked, “You absolutely cannot put those two next to each other. That won’t turn out well at all,” and laughed at the potential for conflict, concluding, “Everyone can say that Alonso has calmed down a bit, but he won’t let himself be destroyed in his final year of Formula 1.”


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