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Wolff says Antonelli ‘definitely plays a part’ in Mercedes’ future as he hints that Sainz out of running for second seat

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has shared another update over the team’s thinking when it comes to their future driver line-up – and the part that teen racer Andrea Kimi Antonelli may play in it – with the wait going on to discover who will replace Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton and Ferrari shocked the F1 world at the start of the year when it was announced that the seven-time world champion will replace Carlos Sainz at the Scuderia next season – ending a spell of more than a decade at the Silver Arrows.

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

Amid the flurry of names linked to the seat alongside incumbent George Russell is Mercedes’ highly rated junior driver and current F2 racer Antonelli, following his rapid rise through the motorsport ranks.

Antonelli, 17, added to a host of karting accolades by winning the Italian and ADAC F4 championships in 2022, and followed those up with the Formula Regional European and Middle East crowns last year.

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

Antonelli sits sixth in the standings after the first five rounds of the F2 season

At the Canadian Grand Prix, Wolff was asked whether Antonelli is now seen as the team’s future and what Sainz – himself linked to Mercedes in recent months – had been told of their plans.

“I think first of all, Carlos deserves a top seat,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1, with the 2025 driver market stepping up a gear. “He’s done a fantastic job.

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

“But for us, we’ve embarked on a route now to say, ‘You know what, we want to reinvent ourselves a little bit, going forward.’ Kimi Antonelli definitely plays a part in that.

“We haven’t taken a decision yet for next year, but we didn’t want to have Carlos wait as well, because he needs to take the decisions for himself – that’s just fair. But he’s doing a super job.”

With Antonelli completing his first laps in F1 machinery as part of Mercedes’ junior scheme over the last couple of months, Technical Director James Allison recently gave an insight into the Italian’s efforts.

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Wolff has been following Antonelli’s progress closely as part of Mercedes’ junior programme

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

“It’s a cliche, 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: Verstappen offers advice to Mercedes junior Antonelli while Russell assesses his prospects as a possible future team mate

“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.”

Antonelli holds sixth place in the F2 standings after the opening five rounds of the season, scoring points in seven out of 10 races and a best finish of P4 in Melbourne, Imola and Monaco.

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