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Herbert: Mercedes should be after Sainz not Antonelli

hamilton sainz ferrari f1

Johnny Herbert cannot understand why experienced Carlos Sainz, ditched by Ferrari at the end of this Formula 1 season, has not been snapped up by Mercedes who are rather obsessing with teenager Kimi Antonelli.

Talk in the Barcelona F1 paddock is that a decision on Sainz’s future is imminent, which we will report on as soon as it breaks. Will it be Williams or Stake F1 Sauber or neither? “Why not Mercedes?” asks Johnny Herbert?

After the shock of the “Hamilton joins Leclerc at Ferrari” announcement Sainz found the best form of his life. Defying the Maranello decision-makers by winning the Australian Grand Prix in gritty style. It showed them what they were casting away to make place for seven-time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton.

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Red Bull closed the door on Sainz returning to the organisation that took him to F1, by extending Sergio Perez’s deal for another two years. Thus partnering with his Toro Rosso teammate Max Verstappen at Red Bull is off the table.

McLaren are sorted with Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris long-term. That leaves Mercedes as the obvious choice for both driver and team. But Toto Wolff is apparently banking all on teenager Kimi Antonelli and looks like he will take a pass on the Spaniard.

Herbert: I’m shocked Sainz hasn’t found a seat for next season

sainz to mercedes f1 news

A call that Herbert struggles to come to terms with, he told the Lord Ping media team: “I’m shocked Carlos Sainz hasn’t found a seat for next season, Mercedes should be after him. I’m so surprised he has not yet got another drive.

“I’m confused as to why. If I was at Mercedes I would have had him on board. He has matured massively. He is seriously consistent and that is exactly what you want. Every team needs two established drivers.

“The team who’ll have the best next year is Ferrari. To have Charles and Lewis in a mighty Ferrari means every team will need two strong drivers just to have a chance of competing with them. You don’t want one weak driver, for instance, at Red Bull where Sergio is not doing it and hasn’t been for a while.

“I’m surprised Red Bull have signed Perez for another two years. The inconsistencies are glaring. Look at what happens on the race weekend. Surprisingly they have stuck with him, he is the weak link,” reckoned Herbert.

Jacques Villeneuve was first to question if the fast-tracking of 17-year-old Antonelli into F1 was not an ego issue for Mercedes boss Wolff. The Canadian F1 World Champion suggesting a season at least with Williams before being promoted to replace the big shoes of Lewis Hamilton, while Russell leads the team and the rookie learns.

At the same time, Verstappen is an example of how a teenager’s career can be hastened into F1. But it reains to be seen if Antonelli is indeed another Max as he is being sold by mainstream media, and Mercedes spindoctors.

Antonelli for Mercedes? Williams or Sauber aka Audi for Sainz?

kimi antonelli woldd villenuev f1 mercedes

Herbert is convinced Antonelli is well prepared for F1: “It’s easier for younger drivers in F1 these days but Kimi Antonelli has to prove himself. Their skill set at 17 is way beyond mine at the same age and I’d say way beyond even Max because the technology is completely different.

“All I had was a mobile phone! Data was so basic – we had four different lines – a throttle trace, a speed trace, a brake trace and a cornering trace. That was it!

“Now they have simulators at the team HQ, at home, and data that helps them analyse what is going on with the car. They have done thousands and thousands of laps before they have even sat in a Grand Prix car for the first time. We used to arrive and walk around the car and learn it as we went.

“Antonelli hasn’t had the strongest F2 season and hasn’t come in and blown people away as Max and Lewis did for instance. His name has been spoken about very positively as the next big Italian F1 star. Now he has to prove it,” concluded Herbert.

Meanwhile, as mentioned above, Sainz’s future is set to be announced soon. Perhaps this weekend in his homeland. His realistic options are Williams, a serious demotion from the top on the grid to the back. Or, signing, like Nico Hulkenberg, with Stake F1 Team Sauber.

The latter move would be the most sensible option for 29-year-olds as Sauber morphs into Audi, under Andreas Seidl for their F1 foray in 2026. A big project which Sainz would fit into ideally, but the road to the top (aka wins) will be long, considering where the Swiss-based F1 team are right now in the top-flight pecking order.

Big Question: Carlos Sainz or Kimi Antonelli for Mercedes in 2025?