Mercedes drop huge hint over Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton replacement as they offer 17-year-old wonderkid first F1 drive

MERCEDES have dropped a major hint that teenage sensation Andrea Kimi Antonelli could be set to replace Lewis Hamilton.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton, 39, is leaving the Silver Arrows for Ferrari in 2025 as he seeks a record-breaking eighth title.

Lewis Hamilton will leave Mercedes for Ferrari in 2025
2

Lewis Hamilton will leave Mercedes for Ferrari in 2025Credit: Getty

Andrea Kimi Antonelli is being linked as Hamilton's replacement at Mercedes
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Andrea Kimi Antonelli is being linked as Hamilton’s replacement at MercedesCredit: Getty
It leaves a vacancy alongside George Russell, with a host of names being linked to the seat.

McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, RB’s Daniel Ricciardo, ex-Haas driver Mick Schumacher, and Williams’ Alex Albon have all been mooted as possible options.

But Italian Antonelli, 17, is now set to be given the opportunity to prove himself as the best suitor when he gets behind the wheel of the Mercedes W12.

He will spend two days driving Mercedes’ 2021 constructors’ championship-winning car at the Austria’s Red Bull Ring on April 16 and 17.

According to The Mirror, it will be the first of several auditions for Antonelli to prove he has the ability to succeed Hamilton.

After impressing in F4 last year, Antonelli has been promoted straight to F2 for the 2024 season.

He also has a personal relationship with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff as his family are close to the Austrian businessman.

An impressive debut year in F2 could convince Mercedes to take a chance on him in 2025.

He is racing for Prema this year alongside Oliver Bearman – who finished seventh at the Saudi Grand Prix after he replaced the absent Carlos Sainz.

Antonelli is down in ninth in the F2 standings after three races, but did finish fourth in Melbourne last month.

Ultimate F1 team principal’s rich list including Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff
Speaking previously about Antonelli, Mercedes boss Wolff said: “We got Kimi under the wings in 2012 and he was a great kid already then.

“You could see the character [and] he was strong. We had him in the garage and there was a lot of confidence.

“In go-karting his track record was immense and then you put him in the junior formulas and he wins every single season in his rookie year.

“But we’ve got to be careful because there’s a lot of hype around him.

“Putting him into F2 is a big step because those cars are heavier and much more powerful.

“If we give him his time and don’t expect him to be killing it in his first season, I think he can be a really great one in this sport.

“He’s 17 – this is so young.”

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