Andrea Kimi Antonelli secures maiden F2 win at Silverstone

Andrea Kimi Antonelli secures maiden F2 win at Silverstone

Unbeatable Andrea Kimi Antonelli prevailed over his rivals and the unpredictable conditions to secure his first win in the FIA Formula 2 Championship at Silverstone on Saturday.

Mercedes junior Andrea Kimi Antonelli says his maiden Formula 2 race win at Silverstone proved he can withstand the pressure a day after Mercedes boss Toto Wolff challenged the young driver as he seeks a promotion to F1.

The Prema Racing driver delivered an impressive performance despite the tricky and wet conditions. The 17-year-old, who qualified P10 on Friday, took over pole position on the reverse grid and used it to his advantage to lead the field and secure the much awaited victory.

The Italian entered Silverstone ninth in the standings after a run of two weekends without a score. On Friday he was described as ‘one of a kind’ by Wolff – yet the Mercedes boss also urged the junior to prove himself after starting the F2 season on backfoot.

“His junior formula and go-karting track record is one of a kind,” said Wolff. “That’s clear that the pressure ramps up.

“But it’s like his father says, a champion needs to be thrown in the cold water and needs to swim.”

After winning a dramatic F2 sprint race that started under torrential rain, Antonelli was asked whether this race served as proof of his mentality.

“Yeah, I have to say, not always I cope very well with pressure,” said Antonelli. “Obviously, this season, especially this year, I’ve been under a lot of pressure, to be honest.

“I have to say today I coped with it pretty well. Still some improvements [needed] because sometimes I still make some mistakes. For example, yesterday in quali I did a mistake in my lap and lost quite a bit of time.

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“So definitely, sometimes I still don’t perform as [well as] I could [10th fastest], but yeah, I’m trying every time to cope as best as I can with the pressure.

“I think today was really the showcase. And actually, yeah, it’s a big relief for me because it really takes away a lot of weight from my shoulders and hopefully we can do a good result tomorrow as well.”

With his first F2 podium, Antonelli experienced another ‘first’ on Saturday having attended his first post-race F2 press conference which drew a crowd that was almost exclusively focused on him leaving out other podium finishers.

“It’s been quite tough to manage especially because it [the media attention] all came at once,” said Antonelli.

“Luckily I have to say I have good people around me. I have my family, Mercedes, and also my team [Prema], and they’ve been trying to just protect me.

“Especially because it’s really easy to crack under pressure in this situation. But yeah, I have to say they’re really helping me to try to cope with that as best as possible.”

Zane Maloney finished second for Rodin Motorsport, more than 8 seconds behind Antonelli, while Invicta Racing’s Gabriel Bortoleto made a final corner pass on teammate Kush Maini to finish P3.

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