F1 could have two rookies on 2025 grid

Fri, 22 March 2024, 09:00

Mar.22 (GMM) Despite the total and highly-criticised absence of a single full-time rookie on the 2024 grid, Formula 1 could have two brand new drivers up and racing next year.

One might be Kimi Antonelli, who many believe is his mentor Toto Wolff’s second choice after Max Verstappen to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes next year.

When asked in Melbourne, Wolff said it’s almost certain that the young Italian will eventually be in F1, adding: “But I don’t know whether it will be next year and then if it will be with us.”

Indeed, strong rumours suggest plans are already being made for Antonelli to replace the struggling Logan Sargeant at Mercedes-powered Williams next year – the team now run by Wolff’s former right-hand-man James Vowles.

“We have to see how much he (Sargeant) progresses as the season goes on,” Vowles said.

As for Antonelli and the early Williams rumours, he added: “I believe in investing in youth, but we’re fortunate enough to have juniors of our own.

“I have no doubt that Kimi will be in F1, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be at Williams, necessarily.”

As for the other potential 2025 rookie, that could be the 18-year-old Ferrari junior Oliver Bearman – who is actually Antonelli’s teammate at the top Formula 2 outfit Prema this year.

The Briton impressed at the wheel of a Ferrari when he stood in at the last minute for the ill Carlos Sainz in Saudi Arabia – and now he is being strongly linked with a Ferrari-powered Haas seat for next season.

Haas’ current drivers are the highly experienced Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg. When asked about the Bearman rumours in Melbourne, Magnussen said: “You know, I think we have a very good dynamic in the team. We’re working really well together.

“I think the journey we’re on as a team means it’s helpful having experienced drivers, but it’s obviously out of my control.”

Hulkenberg, meanwhile, commented: “I think it’s too early to say that he (Bearman) is a candidate. I think for him, first of all, he needs to focus on his performance in Formula 2.

“If he is not good there, his race in Jeddah will be forgotten in a couple of days. You know how it works in our sport,” the 36-year-old German added.

As for Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur, he echoed Hulkenberg’s perspective, insisting it’s “far too early” to predict a certain F1 career for Bearman.

“Now he has to be focused on F2 and I’m sure that all the journalists, the press and so on will draw a conclusion after the end of the championship. He did very well in Jeddah but we have to take it step by step.”

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