Wolff keeping close eye on future star Antonelli

Fri, 15 March 2024, 09:00

Mar.15 (GMM) Kimi Antonelli, who at 17 cannot yet even test a Formula 1 car, is nonetheless a top favourite to replace the Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes next year.

And it’s not just because he is already regarded as one of the most promising young drivers to leap through the junior ranks since Max Verstappen.

The Italian is firmly under the wing of his mentor Toto Wolff, who is also close to Antonelli’s father Marco.

At Imola this week, with the Netflix cameras also there, Wolff got at the wheel of the Mercedes AMG GT3 car owned and run by Marco’s Antonelli Motorsport team.

Wolff, who had a brush with the wall, was even spotted in Antonelli Motorsport team gear.

“I’m fine,” the Mercedes team boss and co-owner smiled to Osterreich newspaper.

Amid rumours Max Verstappen is not even being ruled out as Hamilton’s successor, however, the newspaper also asked Wolff if he has any plans to follow Jos Verstappen into the amateur rallying world.

“Jos was one level above me,” Wolff said when asked if he’s ever raced against Max’s father. “I could rally against him now, but I don’t have the time.

“Apart from that, my driving skills are not ideal! I had a problem with the traction control and crashed into the wall after two laps,” he added, referring to his Imola outing.

Indeed, what Wolff was really there for was to keep in touch with the Antonellis – especially the likely future Mercedes driver, Kimi.

“At school they called him Kimi,” Wolff explained. “That’s why I call him Kimi too. Unless I’m not happy with him, then he’s Andrea again, that’s what we agreed on,” he laughed.

The big question now is whether ‘Kimi’ will be George Russell’s teammate in 2025.

“We are keeping all options open,” Wolff said.

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