Antonelli completes F1 test debut with Mercedes

Antonelli completes F1 test debut with Mercedes

Andrea Kimi Antonelli has wrapped up his F1 test debut with Mercedes in Austria amid links to the squad’s open 2025 seat.

Mercedes junior driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli, who is highly anticipated to take Lewis Hamilton’s seat next season completed his first test in a Formula 1 car on Wednesday at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.

During the test, Antonelli had the opportunity of familiarizing himself with F1 equipment as Mercedes evaluated his skills. He has served as the team’s junior driver since 2019, at the age of 12.

However, snow at the Austrian circuit this week meant that the Formula 2 driver would have to wait a little longer than expected for his debut drive in one of the team’s cars.

Antonelli was in control of the team’s last championship-winning W12, designed to 2021 specs. Mercedes could have opted for a 2022 model, which would have been more in line with current cars, but team principal Toto Wolff stated that they preferred to make his debut in a more competitive chassis.

The driver ran 500 kilometers in total at the circuit that hosts the Austrian Grand Prix.

“Hello guys, first day done in an F1 car. It’s been an incredible experience. I loved every second of it,” Antonelli said on a video that Mercedes posted to its social channels. “And yeah, first day didn’t go as planned. We got some snow, unfortunately, so we couldn’t really drive. But yeah, second day was dry and quite a lot of laps.

“It was really good fun. I want to thank all the team for all the hard work and yeah, excited for what’s coming.

“We did some sim work and ran through some important things ahead of the day,” Antonelli added. “That was really useful because once I was out on track, I knew what the team was telling me on the radio.”

The test was conducted as part of the German team’s heritage program, which involves keeping older models operational and in mint condition so that they can be used for marketing-related functions.

The Italian is currently ninth in the F2 standings, having skipped F3 after winning the Formula Regional European (FRECA) and Formula Regional Middle East Championships in 2023 and the Italian and German F4 championships in 2022.

Mercedes planned Antonelli to make his F1 test debut during the two-month gap between F2 races. His best finish so far this season came last time out in Australia, where he finished fourth.

The team is rumored to be considering promoting Antonelli to its F1 squad when Hamilton joins Ferrari for next season. Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff revealed in Japan that Antonelli will have more chances to test an F1 car in the coming months as it assesses his credentials for a promotion to F1 for next term.

“The programme of Kimi driving Formula 1 has been in place for a long time and hasn’t changed massively over the last few weeks,” Wolff said.

“What we have done is added more days, but what you will see in the next few months has been in place, whether or not he’s going to sit in a Formula 1 car next year.”

Possible replacements include Max Verstappen, who is said to be contemplating leaving Red Bull early, and Carlos Sainz Jr., who Hamilton is replacing at the Scuderia.

Leave a Reply