Formula 1: Antonelli’s exemption: “Future” of Mercedes

Formula 1: Antonelli’s exemption: “Future” of Mercedes
Formula 1: Antonelli’s exemption: “Future” of Mercedes

A small rule change that can have a big impact in Formula 1: You can get a driver’s license for the premier class at the age of 17. A chance for a child prodigy.

The way for Andrea Kimi Antonelli to enter Formula 1 is already clear. The world motorsports association has revised an addition to its rules. The FIA ​​can now issue precocious drivers with a driver’s license for the premier class of motorsport at the age of 17. This decision can be seen as an exception for the prodigy Antonelli from the Mercedes junior program, who could make his Formula 1 debut this season. But when? Perhaps even this weekend in Barcelona? And if so, for which racing team?

World champion Max Verstappen is the last driver to have been allowed to go full throttle in Formula 1 before he came of age. After the Dutchman’s rocket start in 2015 at just 17 years and 166 days, the International Automobile Federation raised the minimum age for drivers to 18. “The rule was introduced because of me, of course,” said Verstappen. “But in the end it doesn’t stop what it’s intended to do.” Namely, that talent is not wasted, but can still make it in Formula 1.

World Federation changes clause for early starters

Just like Antonelli. The 17-year-old from the municipality of Casalecchio di Reno, just outside Bologna, has already collected the necessary points for the so-called super license, the Formula 1 driving license. But since he doesn’t turn 18 until August 25, his debut would have been possible at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza on September 1.

However, the FIA ​​has updated Appendix L of its International Sporting Code and added a corresponding clause for early entrants. Article 13.1.2 now states: “At the sole discretion of the FIA, a driver who has consistently demonstrated outstanding ability and maturity in recent single-seaters in the Formula category may be granted a Super Licence at the age of 17.”

“We want to reinvent ourselves a little in the future”

The fact that Antonelli can even think about such an early Formula 1 debut has a lot to do with Lewis Hamilton. The record world champion is leaving Mercedes after this season and will drive for Ferrari from next season. This means that the Silver Arrows have a free cockpit next to George Russell.

“We want to concentrate on Kimi, that is our future, and we also want to commit to youth,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, who is still hurt by not having had Verstappen as a Mercedes junior. However, the racing team has not yet made a decision about the second cockpit. “There are one or two who might still be interesting.”

Carlos Sainz is not. The Spaniard will have to make room for Hamilton at Ferrari in 2025 and would therefore be on the market. “Carlos deserves a top spot,” said Wolff. “He did a fantastic job, but we have now taken a new path. We want to reinvent ourselves a little in the future, and Kimi Antonelli will definitely play a role in that.”

Can Antonelli drive for Williams in free practice?

When does Antonelli’s Formula 1 future really begin? The curly-haired driver has been competing in Formula 2 for Prema since this season, where Charles Leclerc, Oscar Piastri and Mick Schumacher have also proven their talent. Antonelli has simply skipped Formula 3. Mercedes has already let him drive in 2021 and 2022 Formula 1 cars. Antonelli is said to be prepared for the worst case scenario.

According to reports, Williams, Mercedes’ engine customer, submitted a special application for Antonelli’s super license last month. The racing team wants to give him the two free practice sessions required by the FIA ​​for young drivers in order to test him, it is said. Williams is also unhappy with regular driver Logan Sargeant, who has been on the verge of being eliminated since the start of the season. Antonelli would therefore be a candidate for his successor this season. So it could happen quickly.

Source: Stern

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