analysis antonelli already at williams in formula 1

Antonelli already at Williams? Why that's a masterstroke by Mercedes

3 May at 19:32
  • Ludo van Denderen

It is no surprise to anyone that Logan Sargeant will not have a long career left in Formula 1. The fact that he might be replaced at Williams before the summer break, and moreover by Andrea Kimi Antonelli, does come as a surprise. After all, the Italian super talent is only 17 years old and, after a stint in FRECA, barely started his first season in F2. But if you think things through, you will soon come to the conclusion that making his debut at short notice would be a masterstroke by his employer Mercedes.

No, Kimi Antonelli's debut season in Formula 2 is not yet going smoothly. Top team Prema - for whom he will race - are struggling to find the right set-up for the new generation of F2 cars, so the Italian has not yet made a huge impact. Nevertheless, the youngster has been strongly linked with Lewis Hamilton's seat, which becomes vacant at Mercedes after this season. To prepare Antonelli for that, Mercedes have an extensive test programme going on with him.

Antonelli gains experience in Formula 1

But fair is fair: the most experience Antonelli would gain if he actually drives Grands Prix right now. Meanwhile, it is clear that team principal James Vowles - who knows the Italian from their time together at Mercedes - has started the process of obtaining a super licence for the youngster (actually, he cannot get one until he is 18, ed.). The coming weeks will reveal whether the FIA will make an exception to their rules for Antonelli.

For Williams, there is otherwise little risk in letting Antonelli debut in Formula 1. Surely, Antonelli being worse than Sargeant is not going to be the case, while there may also be a nice financial compensation from Mercedes attached. That Mercedes are considering lending Antonelli for the rest of the season is also more than logical: the team can see if Antonelli is already good enough to replace Hamilton next year. At least with Antonelli already on the F1 grid, there is a measured, fact-based decision to be made. That testing Antonelli is doing now is all well and good, it's still testing.

Williams ideal place to grow

In the unlikely event that the Italian is not ready for F1 after all, Antonelli would also be in an excellent place at Williams in 2025 to gain the necessary experience. As indicated; in F2, Antonelli did not make an indelible impression. But F2 is not Formula 1. Plenty of drivers who did nicely in Formula 2, but grew into excellent F1 drivers. Alex Albon is one such person, the current Williams first driver. In his best F2 season, the Thai finished 'only' third.

So Antonelli at Williams is a win-win situation; both for Williams and certainly for Mercedes.