News

Wolff admits he's 'guilty' of talking too much about F2 hopeful Antonelli as he seeks Hamilton replacement

Share
BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 13: Andrea Kimi Antonelli of Italy and PREMA Racing (4) looks on from

Toto Wolff feels that he may have talked “too much” about junior driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli amid the youngster being speculated about as a potential candidate for Mercedes in the future.

Talk over the driver market for 2025 was ignited when Lewis Hamilton confirmed in February that he will switch to Ferrari next season on a multi-year contract. The Briton had previously signed a new deal with Mercedes last summer keeping him at the team through to the end of next year, but activated a release option that allowed him to sign with the Scuderia.

READ MORE: Wolff shares his expectations for Mercedes’ latest junior F1 prospect after ‘immense’ rise

With Antonelli – who is currently competing in his first season of Formula 2, having bypassed Formula 3 after an impressive start to his single-seater career – clearly on Wolff’s radar, the team boss acknowledges that thinking about Mercedes’ future driver options may have influenced negotiations over the length of Hamilton’s most recent deal.

“I’ve said that we need to look long-term also, and on the driver line-up not in one year but in three, five or 10, and with that perspective I just wanted to keep the options open and with all the consequences that could potentially bring,” explained Wolff.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 21: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes walks in the Paddock

Hamilton's decision to leave Mercedes for Ferrari in 2025 has triggered speculation about the driver market

“But we have such a love affair with Lewis and Mercedes and how well we’ve done that nothing’s going to put any shadow on this. We want to end on a high and we will be giving it all this season.”

Pushed on how he will know when the time might be right to bring Antonelli into Formula 1, Wolff suggested that he does not want to put too much pressure on the youngster.

TECH WEEKLY: 3 years on the bounce – Why Mercedes still can’t shake their downforce issues

“I’m probably guilty in having talked too much about Kimi, because he’s just 17, he jumped F3, he’s going into F2,” he continued. “He needs to learn, he needs to be more, let’s say, in the shadows to be able to develop, understand what to do and whether he’s going to be in Formula 1 if everything goes to plan, but I don’t know if that is next year or whether it’s with us or someone else.”

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 07: Andrea Kimi Antonelli of Italy and PREMA Racing (4) drives on

Antonelli is currently competing in his debut Formula 2 season after bypassing Formula 3

News of Hamilton’s move to Ferrari happened at such a speed that it took most of the F1 world by surprise, but Wolff is determined to take his time when it comes to deciding on who will fill the seven-time world champion’s vacant seat in 2025.

“Well the decision of Lewis to go to Ferrari was a pretty quick one, so I want to do the opposite – I want to wait and see how the season pans out, how the driver market develops, and then take a decision later in the season,” the Team Principal stated.

READ MORE: Wolff ‘would love’ to have Verstappen as there’s no team who ‘wouldn’t do handstands’ to sign him

Antonelli, meanwhile, is currently 12th in the F2 standings after the opening two rounds of the 2024 season, having scored 12 points so far for Prema Racing.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Coming Up

Coming Up

News

‘It sends such a positive message’ – Hamilton leads support from F1 drivers after Ralf Schumacher comes out as gay