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F1 pundit warns Hamilton F1 replacement hinges on one key factor

F1 pundit warns Hamilton F1 replacement hinges on one key factor

F1 pundit warns Hamilton F1 replacement hinges on one key factor

F1 pundit warns Hamilton F1 replacement hinges on one key factor

Formula 1 pundit Will Buxton believes that if Andrea Kimi Antonelli wins the F2 championship in his rookie season then he could find himself driving for Mercedes in 2025.

The Mercedes junior has stormed through the junior Formulae, and at just 18-years-old will take an immediate jump to Formula 2, skipping Formula 3 in the process.

Lauded as the next Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen-like talent, his promotion to Mercedes may be on the horizon sooner than he ever expected.

The Silver Arrows didn’t quite bank on Hamilton departing after 2024, meaning that they may be forced to promote a then 19-year-old Antonelli early, especially if he wins Formula 2 in his rookie year.

Red Bull were forced into the unexpectedly early promotion of a young Max Verstappen some years ago, showing that age is not necessarily a barrier.

READ MORE: Wolff makes HUGE Hamilton F1 call and outlines Mercedes’ plan for handover

Andrea Kimi Antonelli has taken the junior Formulae by storm so far
Lewis Hamilton will leave Mercedes after 12 seasons in 2024

Buxton: Even more impressive than Lewis

Writing in a column for the Formula 1 website, Buxton shared praise for the young Italian who will be firmly pushed into the spotlight this year.

“Mercedes is already looking forward and has already singled out Hamilton’s long-term heir,” he said. “A precocious talent marching his way through the junior formulae in a manner potentially even more impressive than Lewis managed two decades ago.

“Andrea Kimi Antonelli is set to contest Formula 2 this season having been skipped past Formula 3 by the three pointed star. Should he win the title in 2024, Toto Wolff has already hinted the team might make a “bold” call on its 2025 line-up.

Alternatively, Wolff could opt to give Antonelli more time and hire the experience for another driver to settle the ship for a season, with the likes of Esteban Ocon, Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly all available at the end of 2024.

Mercedes will have a new driver lineup for 2025 and likely for 2026 if Antonelli isn’t ready in a year, leaving George Russell with work to do as the team’s DeFacto number one.

READ MORE: Coulthard drops DRAMATIC F1 bombshell about Hamilton and Leclerc

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