Kimi Antonelli’s Early F1 Move “Is Not Going To Happen” Says Toto Wolff, Backed By James Vowles

Kimi Antonelli First Test Austria
Kimi Antonelli First Test Austria

With rumors about Andrea Kimi Antonelli being considered to take Lewis Hamilton’s seat in Mercedes for 2025 flowing around for quite some time, they picked up a volume when, just before the start of the Miami Grand Prix, it emerged that the FIA received an official request for dispensation.

The request to make a special exception and grant Antonelli his super license needed to enter Formula 1 before he turns the minimum age of 18 years old in August is believed to be initiated by Williams — fuelling speculations he was being prepared to make his F1 debut before the summer break. The team that is supplied by Mercedes’ engine did not start the 2024 season very well, and Antonelli has been mentioned as a possible replacement for their American driver Logan Sargeant in the past few days.

However, Mercedes’ team principal Toto Wolff firmly denied such ideas: “The dispensation was something that wasn’t brought up by us and we have certainly stated from the beginning that that was not something we have pursued.”

“I don’t know where this belief comes from that Mercedes was keen on pushing that forward. Kimi needs to concentrate on his F2 campaign and he knows that.”

“Everything else is just rumours, which continue to spin around and that are factually incorrect. He’s an F2 driver for PREMA, that is what he’s doing, and this is what we’re all concentrating on. Just 15 months ago, he was in an F4 car.”

“We have great belief in Kimi, his abilities and also his future. But there is a trajectory which we need to follow with diligence, rather than trying to dream about jumping from series to series in a way that is certainly not beneficial for him.”

“I think a champion is not going to be distracted by any of this. But certainly, at least it distracts me because everybody’s asking me: ‘What about Kimi and driving in Imola?’”

“This is not going to happen. This is not something that Mercedes wants. These rumours have gotten their own spin. Let’s do Formula 2. We as a team have lots of other issues to resolve.”

Quite the same opinion sounded from the team principal of Williams. James Vowles insisted the team needs to focus on making the car better and that is their main issue right now.

When asked if Kimi Antonelli is in consideration for them, Vowels replied: “So, there was a rumor going around that he’ll be in the car for Imola [Emilia Romagna Grand Prix]. He won’t be in the car for Imola.”

“What we’re doing at the moment is evaluating drivers for 2026 and 2025. And what we really want is the right driver pairing for those two years, because when you go through regulation change, you really don’t want to be changing drivers in 2026. So, you’re looking for the right pairing for that period of time.”

“And there’s no doubt he’s [Antonelli] got huge skill to him, but he was in a Formula 4 car 20 months ago. That’s where he is. It’s a very different proposition to most. So, I mean, we’ve been talking to four, five drivers at the moment for that period of time [2025 and 2026], and I’m quite happy to sit back a little bit and wait.”

“I mean, more so than that, I have a duty and responsibility to make this car faster first because Alex [Albon] is a, I’ve already said this, championship level driver. We’ve just got to provide the right car for him to be behind him and we haven’t yet. So my main focus is there and that typically then unlocks other possibilities in the future.”

Kimi Antonelli completed his first Mercedes’ F1 test with the W12 car that brought the team their 2021 Constructors’ Championship title, followed by a test in Imola with the more recent W13 from the 2022 season.

“It’s completely on the trajectory that we expected,” Wolff said about his protégé’s progress. “That is what we have planned before the season, a solid F2 campaign and testing for Mercedes, and we will continue to just do this. Everything else is just a distraction for all of us.”

Vowels commented: “I know nothing about what’s going on with the Mercedes tests right now. We are looking, as everyone else is, for where we want to be on the driver line-up for next year. And we have our own young driver programme.”

“In the case of Kimi. I can’t really adjudicate at the level he’s at. In case of him coming into the car this year, I’ve always said from the beginning, it’s a meritocracy.”

“Logan has to earn his seat and at the moment, he has some tough targets where he has to get much closer to Alex. But there is nothing on the radar at the moment for replacing him.”

All in all, both team principals were very firm with their stance to this Kimi Antonelli situation, Wolff once more repeating “it’s certainly nothing that we have ever pushed from our side”. That means the young Italian can focus on his current Formula 2 season, being ninth in the championship standings after the first three race weekends of the series.


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