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Mercedes not expecting Antonelli to be “killing it” in F2 next year

Mercedes thinks it important that junior driver Kimi Antonelli is not expected to be “killing it” in his rookie Formula 2 campaign next year.

Andrea Kimi Antonelli, Prema Racing

Andrea Kimi Antonelli, Prema Racing

ACI Sport

Antonelli is being promoted to F2 with Prema for 2024, in the wake of his success in the Formula Regional European Championship this year. 

A two-time European karting champion, the Italian has made a strong impression in the junior categories – also winning the Italian and ADAC Formula 4 titles with Prema in his first season of single-seater racing in 2022. 

Mercedes took the decision for Antonelli to skip F3 as it feels he is ready for the challenge of F2, which is the last stepping stone to F1. 

And while there is tremendous hype around him, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is clear that the German manufacturer will not set expectations too high. 

“We got Kimi under the wings in 2012…and he was a great kid already then.  You could see the character, he was strong," said Wolff.

“We had him in the garage and there was a lot of confidence. And then 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 Kimi. Putting him into F2 is a big step because those cars are heavier and much more powerful.  

Andrea Kimi Antonelli, Prema Racing

Photo by: Diederik van der Laan / Dutch Photo Agency

Andrea Kimi Antonelli, Prema Racing

“But 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.” 

Wolff said there was no consideration now about how long it was anticipated for Antonelli to be in F2, as his tenure there would almost certainly depend on how successful he was in 2024. 

“I think it depends on how it goes,” explained Wolff. “It's new cars, which is an advantage, and it all depends on how quick you can be. 

“But there are some tough competitors that get to go into the second season - Fred [Vasseur] has one - that are highly rated, and I think whether it's a season or two, he needs to demonstrate that he’s ready for a seat in F1. And there's another step in between; we’ve got to concentrate on F2, nothing else."

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