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Wolff's 'missed opportunity' to land Verstappen opens the door for Antonelli

Wolff's 'missed opportunity' to land Verstappen opens the door for Antonelli

Wolff's 'missed opportunity' to land Verstappen opens the door for Antonelli

Wolff's 'missed opportunity' to land Verstappen opens the door for Antonelli

A prominent figure in F1 has a bold prediction on who Mercedes might choose to replace the departing Lewis Hamilton.

The upcoming 2025 F1 season promises a significant shakeup with Hamilton's confirmed move to Ferrari. This leaves a gaping hole in the Mercedes garage, and team boss Toto Wolff faces a crucial decision on who will replace the seven-time champion.

READ MORE: F1 Chinese Grand Prix Sprint Qualifying Results: Verstappen THWARTED in fire and rain

Several names have been thrown into the mix, such as soon-to-be out-of-contract Carlos Sainz. However, at the top of Wolff's wishlist sits the dominant Max Verstappen.

The Dutchman's blistering pace and recent dominance make him a dream candidate for the Austrian boss. However, luring him away from Red Bull, which are currently boasting a clear performance advantage, seems unrealistic - at least for now.

Verstappen himself recently hinted at a desire for a competitive car, despite not entirely shutting the door on a future move. Further complicating matters is his mammoth contract, the longest on the grid, tying him to Red Bull until the end of the 2028 season.

So, if not Verstappen, then who? According to one F1 figure, Wolff might already have his sights set...

Lewis Hamilton is set to join Ferrari in the 2025 season
Toto Wolff admitted that Max Verstappen is his ideal Lewis Hamilton replacement

Buxton predicts Mercedes move

F1 presenter Will Buxton believes Mercedes might be setting the stage for Formula 2 standout Andrea Kimi Antonelli's future with the team.

The Italian recently got behind the wheel of an F1 car, driving the Mercedes W12, which secured the 2021 constructors' championship, at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.

"Antonelli is going to Mercedes. I think Toto has made his mind up: he wants Antonelli in the seat," Buxton declared on The Red Flags Podcast.

Furthermore, Buxton suggested that Wolff may be driven by a past regret, as Verstappen could have joined the Silver Arrows years ago as a teenager.

"Because he’s p****d," he continued. "He is p****d that he missed the opportunity to give Max the opportunity back in 2014. So you put Antonelli in the seat."

READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE: Meet Germany's latest wunderkind aiming to build on Vettel's F1 legacy

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Red Bull Ferrari Max Verstappen Mercedes Carlos Sainz Toto Wolff
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