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Hamilton says Antonelli to Mercedes in 2025, Rosberg disagrees

kimi antonelli mercedes f1 hamilton

Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton suggested that Kimi Antonelli should replace him at Mercedes in 2025 but, former teammate, Nico Rosberg is urging Toto Wolff to place the Italian teenage sensation at Williams, to start his Formula 1 career more under the radar.

Seven-time F1 World Champion Hamilton’s shock announcement, on 1 February, that he would be leaving Mercedes to join Ferrari meant one of the hottest seats is now available to be filled, a teammate for Russell is on team Merc boss Wolff’s agenda.

Even before Hamilton made the suggestion at Imola, Antonelli appeared to be top of the Mercedes list, with Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon also linked with the drive.

Asked who should succeed him at the Silver Arrows and who it might be, 39-year-old Hamilton ventured: “Carlos is a great driver and I think wherever he goes he would be an asset to any team.

“Honestly, I have no idea what Toto’s plans are but I think for me taking on a youngster would be, if it was my job, I would probably take on Kimi.”

Antonelli has to prove himself this year in Formula 2

antonelli mercedes Hamilton says Antonelli to Mercedes in 2025, Rosberg disagrees

The 17-year-old Italian is dovetailing private F1 testing with Mercedes, while in his first season of Formula 2 after skipping seat time in Formula 3 after a stellar showing in his Formula 4 and karting escapades.

But the spotlight on him is now brighter than ever. Perhaps inspired by Ferrari junior Oliver Bearman’s stunning debut when subbing for hospitalised Carlos Sainz in Jeddah earlier this year, Mercedes is keeping tabs on Antonelli which simply adds to the pressure on the young driver.

Formula 2 observers have yet to see the magic that greats tend to show in the F1 feeder series after six races. Antonelli’s best result was P4 in Melbourne’s Feature Race, after crashing a day earlier in the Sprint Race last time out.

This weekend on home soil at Imola, support will be high for local hero Antonelli, but Mercedes boss Wolff has tempered expectations since the teenager came onto the radar as Plan-A for the former World Champions.

Wolff: Kimi is going to be a very, very successful driver

Formula 1 | Wolff cautious about the rise of the Antonelli star

The Mercedes boss told reporters at the time: “Kimi has been in our junior academy since he was 11 and we have great pleasure in watching him grow as a young man and growing through the ranks, but I also want to take a little bit of pressure off him.”

But Wolff is bullish about their prodigy: “Kimi is just 17, he’s won everything he needed to win in his rookie seasons and I think he’s going to be in Formula 1. He’s going to be a very, very successful driver.”

Former Mercedes driver and 2016 F1 World Champion in Silver, 38-year-old Nico Rosberg is wary of fast-tracking the teen: “I do not doubt that Antonelli is a future star, but in my opinion, the timing is not right. The move to the premier class is too early.”

Skipping Formula 3 to jump into Formula 2 is not the traditional ‘skip’ a series fast lane to F1. Hamilton did Formula 3 and GP2 before moving into F1. Max Verstappen skipped Formula 2, after showing his prowess in F3. Ditto the likes of Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna.

Rosberg: It’s too early for Toto Wolff to make a decision now

Is Kimi Antonelli really ready for F1?

“Toto should rather wait to see how Antonelli develops in Formula 2,” ventured Rosberg. “Kimi has to put in a really strong season to secure a Formula 1 cockpit for 2025.

“If it’s Formula 1, then from today’s perspective it seems to make more sense to develop Antonelli out of the limelight with a Mercedes partner, for example, Williams,” ventured Rosberg.

Williams team boss James Vowles told reporters at Imola on Thursday: “I’m looking, at the moment, at about three options for 2025 and 2026. It’s as simple as that. When we’re in a position where I can talk about it openly, which won’t be long, we will do.”

Thus the ball is in Antonelli’s court. First-prize he wins the Formula 2 Championship and on merit gets the nod to partner Russell in the other Mercedes. But once in the top flight, with a top team, he will have to deliver much like Hamilton did when he arrived in F1 with McLaren back in 2007.

Notably, Antonelli was born in Bologna, Italy, on 25 August 2006. A day later Hamilton finished P2 in the GP2 Series race at Hungaroring.

Big Question: Who should replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes?