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Mercedes protege Antonelli set for maiden F1 test

Mercedes youngster Andrea Kimi Antonelli is set for his first Formula 1 test at the Red Bull Ring later this month.

Mercedes has planned a two-day test from 16 April for its highly-rated junior driver in Austria, where he will take the wheel of the 2021 Mercedes W12.

The acclimatisation test will be the 17-year-old's first of several planned F1 outings this year as Mercedes prepares him to step up to F1 in the future, adding to his duties in the Formula 2 championship with Prema.

Antonelli is under consideration for promotion to F1 pending on his progress this year, with Mercedes having the vacant seat of Lewis Hamilton to fill for the 2025 season and beyond.

It could also try to place the Italian at a customer team or decide to hand him a second season in F2, having graduated to the series straight from Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine having skipped Formula 3.

Following a difficult weekend for Prema in Bahrain, Antonelli moved up to ninth in the standings in Melbourne thanks to a fourth place in the feature race, from second on the grid.

Team-mate Oliver Bearman scored his first point after making a highly-publicised F1 debut with Ferrari in Jeddah.

F2 doesn't race again until the Imola round in May, giving Antonelli a window to conduct F1 testing.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Rodin driver and Sauber junior Zane Maloney leads the championship after three rounds, ahead of Paul Aron and Dennis Hauger.

Commenting on the vacant Mercedes seat for 2025, team principal Toto Wolff said he would take his time to make his decision, partially dictated by any availability of Max Verstappen.

"There are a few options that are really interesting for us – from the very young super talent to someone of the other ones, who are very experienced," he told Fox Sports Australia in Melbourne.

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"That’s not going to happen in the next few weeks or months. I want to continue to monitor the market. It depends on what Max does."

As part of F1's testing of a previous car regulations, tests can be done with 2022-spec machinery from this year, which bear more resemblance to the current crop of cars.

That means Antonelli would also be allowed to sample Mercedes' 2022 W13 at future tests.

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