Antonelli made it like he'd ‘been in F1 car for ages’ in Mercedes test


Mercedes technical director James Allison says the Brackley squad’s engineers have been very impressed with junior driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli performances in his first two private tests with the team.

The 17-year-old charger who currently competes in the FIA Formula 2 Championship is being groomed by Mercedes for a potential promotion to Formula 1 next season, a graduation that would see the teenager fill Lewis Hamilton’s upcoming vacant seat.

In preparation for the likely move to motorsport’s elite, Antonelli is undergoing a stringent on-track development programme comprised of several outings at various venues with older-spec Mercedes F1 machinery.

After his maiden test last month at the wheel of Mercedes’ 2021 FW12 at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, the Italian was handed an outing at Imola with the Silver Arrows outfit’s 2022 FW13 ground-effect car which delivered an entirely different experience to the young gun.

Based on the subsequent feedback he received from Mercedes’ test team, Allison praised Antonelli’s performance, particularly his ability to adapt quickly to the complexities of an F1 machine.

“Well, I have had the great pleasure of listening to the engineers describe the interaction with him,” Allison told the media at Imola on Friday.

“[He] is just a young, enthusiastic driver, very, very fast [and] metronomic in his pace.

“He has not been in an F1 car until recently, but made it like he'd been in one for ages within a lap or two.”

Allison suggested that Antonelli’s complete lack of experience of modern F1 machinery might actually constitute a benefit for the young charger.

Unlike some drivers accustomed to the handling of older F1 cars, the young charger has come in with a fresh perspective that allows him to focus solely on the current generation machine’s unique ground effect characteristics.

“He came at this generation of cars, the ground effect cars, with an open mind,” said Mercedes’ tech boss.

“He feels all the same things that you'd expect him to feel but he’s not polluted by the previous cars.

“So he just takes them as they are and, tells us what he would do, what he is feeling as weaknesses and strengths and lets the engineers work to try to improve those things.

“But he looks like a very promising, promising young driver.”

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