Wolff reveals driver in ‘strongest position’ to fill 2025 Mercedes seat


Toto Wolff has suggested that Mercedes protégé Andrea Kimi Antonelli is in the “stongest position” to succeed Lewis Hamilton at the Brackley squad in 2025.

Wolff has previously talked up the young Italian’s candidature for the plum seat at Mercedes but reiterated that a final decision will likely depend on the 17-year-old’s performances this season in the FIA Formula 2 Championship.

Amid one of the most dynamic driver markets Formula 1 has seen in ages, there is no lack of high-profile candidates potentially interested in joining Mercedes next season, with Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon and Antonelli all cited as leading contenders.

But according to Wolff, the Italian F2 charger holds an edge over his rivals.

“He's definitely a very strong contender," Wolff told China's Xinhua News Agency.

"I want to see how his F2 season develops, but we will wait and see what happens with some of the other drivers in F1. I don't doubt his raw speed, talent and ability.

"We wouldn't have supported him from go-karting until now if we didn't believe that he has the potential to go into F1 and do so with Mercedes.

“Many young drivers have shown in the past that you can do that step."

Antonelli, who joined Mercedes junior programme as a young karter, graduated full-time to cars in 2022 and immediately won the Italian F4 and ADAC Formula 4 Championships.

Last season, the 17-year-old kicked off his year with another title in the Middle East Formula Regional series before sealing the Drivers’ title in the Formula Regional European Championship at Zandvoort with two races to spare.

So far, Antonelli has taken part in six rounds of the 2024 F2 championship, with a fourth-place finish in the series' feature race in Melbourne his best result.

As part of Antonelli’s mentorship with Mercedes and in anticipation of a possible graduation to Formula 1, the German outfit has put together an extensive F1 test programme that will kick off next week at the Red Bull ring in Austria.

Wolff made clear that Mercedes won’t rush it’s decision regarding its 2025 line-up.

“My feeling at the moment is that I don't want to rush [the decision], because Kimi is part of the ideas for next year and is very much in the strongest position, and that's why we don't need to rush into any other decision," added Wolff.

"Obviously, some of the other top drivers are going to make a decision on what to do soon, but there's a feeling that points me in a direction not to take the decision too quickly."

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