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

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Max Verstappen has shared some words of advice for Mercedes junior driver Kimi Antonelli amid continued speculation over whether the teenager could make the step up from Formula 2 to Formula 1 in the near future.

Currently competing in his debut campaign of F2 – after bypassing F3 thanks to an impressive ascent through the ranks – Antonelli has remained a frequently-mentioned name in talk surrounding the driver market.

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

As well as being linked to the vacant seat at the Silver Arrows in 2025, rumours circulated during the Miami Grand Prix weekend that the 17-year-old could arrive in F1 even sooner after it emerged that the FIA had received a request to give Antonelli dispensation to race in the championship before he turns 18, which he will do in August this year.

Williams boss James Vowles quashed talk that the youngster could race for his team as soon as the previous round on the calendar in Imola, but – should he happen to be given an opportunity in the months ahead – Verstappen is somebody who can relate to entering the top tier as a teenager, having made his debut at 17 back in 2015 with Toro Rosso.

Asked ahead of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix what it is like to race in Formula 1 as a 17-year-old, Verstappen reflected on how steep the learning curve can be.

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Antonelli had his first taste of F1 machinery in a test with Mercedes at Austria’s Red Bull Ring in April

“You’re such a rookie that there are so many things you still have to learn,” the Red Bull driver explained. “For me personally, the biggest one was actually doing a full race distance.

“In F3 at the time you did 35-minute races, so there’s a lot more involved [in F1]. Looking after your tyres is a big part of it, these tyres are so particular and sensitive compared to some other categories.

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

“Going through the good moments, the bad moments, how you come out of these things, difficult weekends where it’s just not working for you or whatever… There’s so much to learn. But on the other hand, don’t try to think about it too much, just let it go.

“When you’re talented – and you can see that with Kimi, he’s very talented – I don’t think you should be too worried. Make mistakes – you have to make mistakes. Ideally you like to make those mistakes when you’re not fighting for championships or whatever.

“I also got lucky with that, starting at Toro Rosso – not many people are looking at you all the time, so you can make some silly mistakes here and there. It’s important to make them, because even though you tell yourself all the time ‘I cannot do this, I cannot do that’, you will only adapt really if you make them and then move forwards.

“Just general growing up as a person as well, I guess, even outside the car, knowing what you want in your private life. Then it’s just understanding the set-up of a racing car more and more. Over time, of course cars evolve but when you are with one particular team, you know more or less what works or not.

Scuderia Toro Rosso's Dutch driver Max Verstappen sits in his car as the crew works on it during

Verstappen was 17 years old when he made his debut with Toro Rosso at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix

“Being with the same kind of race engineers and people around you that fine-tune the car for you, all these kinds of things – the more you spend time with them, the more it comes to you. But again, don’t try to think about it too much – just let it happen.

“When you’re that young, just focus on trying to go as fast as you can, make your mistakes, have good race results. Now you can explain all of this, but at the time you don’t know that. Ease into it, have good people around you in the team that will coach you.”

READ MORE: Williams talking to ‘four or five drivers’ as Vowles offers his take on Antonelli

George Russell, meanwhile, was asked for his thoughts on the prospect of having Antonelli as a team mate at Mercedes in 2025 should the Italian be promoted to fill Lewis Hamilton’s spot at the squad.

“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. “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.

“As I said before, I’d welcome anybody as my team mate. I feel like I’ve got a pretty good team mate right now.”

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