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antonelli mercedes f1 test

Mercedes sure that Antonelli is F1 real deal with “metronomic pace”

antonelli mercedes f1 test

Italian teenager Kimi Antonelli has shown “metronomic pace” in testing with Mercedes, the team’s technical director James Allison revealed after Lewis Hamilton endorsed the 17-year-old to replace him next year.

Hamilton is moving to Ferrari and Mercedes’ protege Antonelli is a candidate to take the seven-times F1 world champion’s place alongside George Russell despite his lack of experience.

Asked at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix how Antonelli’s recent test in an older car had gone, Allison said the engineers had spoken highly of the youngster who is currently competing in Formula Two.

Allison told reporters: “Just a young, enthusiastic driver, very, very fast, metronomic in his pace. Has not been in an F1 car until recently, but made it look like he’d been in one for ages within a lap or two. He came at this generation of cars, the ground effect cars, with an open mind.

“Yeah, he feels all the same things that you’d expect him to feel. But he’s not sort of polluted by the previous cars. So he just takes them as they are and tells us what he is feeling as weaknesses and strengths. And lets the engineers work to try to improve those things. But he looks like a very promising young driver,” predicted Allison.

Hamilton: I’d probably take on Kimi

Andrea Kimi Antonelli - Junior Driver - Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team

Speaking to reporters at Imola on Thursday, Hamilton indicated that it it were his call he would advise his boss Toto Wolff to take a gamble on the Italian teenager: “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, if it was my role…I’d probably take on Kimi.”

Hamilton made his Formula 1 debut at McLaren in 2007 at the age of 22, the most successful driver in the history of the sport finishing on the podium in his first race in Australia. Red Bull’s triple F1 world champion Max Verstappen debuted at the age of 17 in 2015.

For now, Antonelli needs to make his mark in Formula 2, and after skipping Formula 3 altogether, Italy’s great driver hope is not fidning it to be plain sailing as many expected, but the season is still young.

Should he need another year in F2 to mature, Mercedes could hire Carlos Sainz or Esteban Ocon if they don’t manage to lure Max Verstappen away from Red Bull. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)