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Allison says Mercedes junior Antonelli ‘looks like the real deal’ as he assesses recent F1 test runs

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 16: F2 driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli of Italy and PREMA Racing (4) walks in the

Kimi Antonelli has received a glowing review from one of Mercedes’s most senior figures in Technical Director James Allison following the youngster’s first F1 test runs with the team.

Italian racer Antonelli, 17, was fast-tracked to F2 this year after a stellar rise up the motorsport ranks that included successive title wins in Italian and German F4 and the Middle East and European Formula Regional championships.

READ MORE: Who is Andrea Kimi Antonelli – and why is he such a hot topic in the Miami paddock?

Backed by Mercedes since 2019, he has also recently been given a chance to show what he can do in F1 machinery, kicking off a special acclimatisation programme with a maiden outing in the team’s 2021-spec car in Austria.

That was followed up by a run in the 2022 Mercedes at Imola ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, where Allison gave his assessment of Antonelli’s efforts up to that point.

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Antonelli has been getting up to speed in F1 machinery alongside his rookie F2 season

“He’s certainly impressed everyone with the sessions he’s run so far,” Allison commented. “He’d never been in an F1 car, but he looked like he had within a lap or two.

“It’s a cliché, but he’s fast, he’s consistent, didn’t make any mistakes. Young people can be trying to impress so much that they will spin off, or the opposite, they’re so terrified of spinning off that they don’t really show what they can do.

READ MORE: F2 racer Antonelli ‘excited for what’s coming’ after making ‘incredible’ F1 test debut with Mercedes

“Kimi seemed to just naturally slip into the right groove on that, giving decent input about how the car felt, while not really putting a foot wrong, so he looks like the real deal.”

Despite a rapid rise to F2 and only being a few rounds into his rookie campaign, Antonelli is one of the names being heavily linked with the vacant seat at Mercedes for 2025 following Lewis Hamilton’s decision to sign for Ferrari.

James Allison: Mercedes protégé Kimi Antonelli ‘looks like the real deal’ after F1 test

It remains to be seen whether the teenager will be given the nod, but potential team mate George Russell insisted he would “welcome anybody” to race alongside him and offered some more positive words about Mercedes’ rising star.

“I think Kimi is a fantastic driver, obviously racing in Formula 2 this year, but he’s no doubt going to be a Formula 1 driver in the future,” said Russell.

READ MORE: Verstappen offers advice to Mercedes junior Antonelli while Russell assesses his prospects as a possible future team mate

“He’s a fellow junior driver as well, [he’s] come through the ranks as I did with the team, so I think it makes for a great opportunity for Mercedes building into the future.”

Antonelli sits sixth in the F2 standings after five of 14 schedule rounds, having scored points in seven out of 10 races – including a best finish of P4 in Melbourne, Imola and Monaco.

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