Antonelli test was not a ‘shootout’ – Mercedes

Mon, 3 June 2024, 10:31

Jun.3 (GMM) Mercedes has hit back at claims that teenage F1 hopeful Kimi Antonelli is involved in a “shootout” process as the team considers Lewis Hamilton’s 2025 successor.

Toto Wolff protege Antonelli, 17, recently went head-to-head in a 2022 car with Mick Schumacher and George Russell – and reportedly secured the ‘ok’ of the Mercedes board as he successfully demonstrated his pace.

A Mercedes spokesperson admits the test took place, but said the subsequent speculation was “unverified” and did not “reflect what happened”.

“It’s important to understand that each driver completed different programs on different days and in different track and weather conditions,” the spokesperson continued.

The good news for Antonelli, however, is that he and Schumacher will be back at the wheel of the 2022 Mercedes for a follow-up test in Barcelona this week.

“Both Mick and Kimi have done an excellent job delivering their respective programs, to the complete satisfaction of the team, and we are looking forward to three busy days of running next week too,” the Mercedes spokesperson added.

It is clear that Antonelli is now the favourite to succeed Hamilton next year, having also secured the backing of the team’s engineers and technical boss James Allison.

“I have had the great pleasure of listening to the engineers describe the interaction with him,” Allison said. “Just a young, enthusiastic driver, very, very fast, metronomic in his pace.

“He 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 looks like a very promising young driver.”

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