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How a rule tweak could allow Antonelli to make his F1 race weekend debut as early as the Spanish Grand Prix

F1 Correspondent & Presenter

Lawrence Barretto
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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24: Andrea Kimi Antonelli walks in the paddock during practice ahead of

Mercedes protege Kimi Antonelli could make his Formula 1 race weekend debut as early as the Spanish Grand Prix if given the opportunity following two adjustments to the FIA International Sporting Code.

Italian Antonelli, who is 17 and currently sixth in his debut Formula 2 campaign with Prema, has been heavily linked with a promotion to Formula 1 alongside George Russell at Mercedes in 2025 as a replacement for Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton.

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

Sources say Williams last month made a request to governing body the FIA for special dispensation to allow Antonelli to test F1 machinery before he turns 18 on August 25. It is believed they were interested in running him in two FP1 sessions this year to fulfil their obligations of giving young drivers mileage.

The rules previously stated that to obtain either a Friday practice Super Licence or a Super Licence to compete in a Grand Prix, you had to be at least 18 years old and hold a valid driving licence (the latter not feasible in Antonelli’s native Italy till he turned 18) – so for Williams or anyone else to run him, they would need special dispensation.

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24: Andrea Kimi Antonelli of Italy and PREMA Racing (4) drives on track

Antonelli is currently sixth in the drivers' standings in his debut Formula 2 campaign with Prema

This week, the FIA tweaked the rules, first removing the clause that necessitated a valid driving licence and then adding the line: “At the sole discretion of the FIA, a driver judged to have recently and consistently demonstrated outstanding ability and maturity in single-seater formula car competition may be granted a Super Licence at the age of 17 years old.”

Antonelli has already achieved impressive success in junior formulas, including winning the Italian F4 and ADAC F4 titles in 2022 and the Formula Regional Middle East and European Championships – and thus would have a convincing argument to earn that discretion.

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

If the FIA approves his licence, which is highly likely, he would be eligible to take part in either an FP1 or, if required, as a race weekend driver from the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix – rather than having to wait until his home Italian Grand Prix at the earliest.

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Antonelli experienced his first F1 test with Mercedes in April, where he got behind the wheel of the team's 2022 car at the Red Bull Ring

Given Mercedes are keen to keep the pressure off his young shoulders and allow him to focus on putting together a strong F2 campaign while going through a preparation programme that involves running old F1 machinery with Mercedes, it is more likely we will see him in FP1s rather than a race seat.

As a result, it is almost certain Mercedes will run Antonelli for two FP1 sessions this year to fulfil their obligations. The rule tweak means they have the option to put him in for one of the upcoming European tracks which he will know well – or they can still wait till later in the year.

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

The Italian could also get two further sessions with Williams, giving him four in total to go alongside his extensive testing programme with Mercedes that has seen him clock up miles in 2021 and 2022 machinery.

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