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Nine things you need to know about Mercedes star Andrea Kimi Antonelli

Australia will host F1, F2 and F3 this weekend and will provide action and excitement around Albert Park in Melbourne.

If you’ve been following F1 news at all this year you’ve no doubt heard the name Kimi Antonelli pop up. 

When Lewis Hamilton announced his shock move to Ferrari for the 2025 F1 season, the rising Mercedes junior was thrust into the spotlight as a possible replacement for his seat.

Fans will have to see how he performs in F2 and whether that’s enough to be promoted to drive in F1 sooner rather than later.

Here, Planet Sport’s Ayla Vaughan picks out nine things you need to know about the latest Italian driver who hopes to break onto the F1 grid soon.

Kimi Antonelli drives in F2 for Prema 

Antonelli is currently team-mates with Ollie Bearman at Prema Racing for the 2024 F2 season. Bearman drove for Ferrari in F1 in Jeddah, so I’m sure Antonelli is hoping to get a chance in F1 too. 

The Italian skipped F3 and went straight to competing in F2, similar to Max Verstappen. This shows how accomplished Antonelli is as the step up can be challenging. 

Despite both Prema drivers getting off to a bad start for the first races in Bahrain last week, Antonelli did manage to score his first point by finishing 10th in the feature race after qualifying a dismal 17th. 

Since then, Antonelli has scored points in Jeddah, finishing sixth in both the sprint and feature race. 

This means he is currently 10th in the driver standings, whilst his team-mate is last. Antonelli keeps improving with each race weekend and will be eager to score his maiden podium and win. 

The Tifosi will hope to hear the Italian anthem played soon as the last time they heard it was in F1 last year in Singapore with Carlos Sainz’s victory.

Antonelli’s first year in single-seaters 

The Italian racer has won multiple single-seater titles throughout his career, and his first two came in 2022 with the Italian Formula 4 Championship and the ADAC Formula 4 Championship. 

Antonelli dominated the Italian F4 Championship with 14 pole positions and 13 wins out of 21 races. He managed to win six races in a row, which is difficult to achieve. 

His domination continued in the ADAC F4 Championship, showing to Mercedes that he was an extremely talented and consistent driver. 

Antonelli achieved seven pole positions (that he got consecutively) and nine wins out of 18 races. He got to race on circuits that F1 cars drove on, such as Spa in Belgium and Zandvoort in the Netherlands.

In both championships he won by a comfortable margin, scoring 104 more points than the runner-up in Italian F4 and 47 more points than the runner-up in ADAC F4. 

His results arguably speak for themselves as at most races in these championships he finished on the podium, or just outside, except for only four times where he scored no points. 

His achievements as a rookie in Italian F4 only highlight his high level of skill in adapting to new categories in motorsport.

Antonelli’s junior championships 

Following a highly-successful year, Antonelli proceeded to win the Formula Regional Middle East Championship and the Formula Regional European Championship in 2023. 

He won all except one of his junior championships with Prema Racing, showing the calibre of the junior team that produces future F1 drivers. 

He competed with Mumbai Falcons Racing Limited in the 2023 Formula Regional Middle East Championship as they were affiliated with Prema Racing.

Antonelli now raced outside of Europe in the early months of 2023 in the Formula Regional Middle East Championship. 

He got three poles and three wins out of 15 races, not dominating as much as he did in 2022. 

He yet again was a consistent driver, scoring points in all-but two races with one retirement. 

Winning yet again his rookie season has become a pattern and helped prepare him for the next championship.

The Formula Regional European Championship consisted of many of the same tracks Antonelli had previously driven in 2022, so this became an advantage as he didn’t have to learn as many new tracks. 

He achieved four poles and five wins out of 20 races with a much more competitive field. 

Despite not winning as many races as previous championships, he was extremely consistent once again, scoring points in all-but one race and having a single retirement.

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The youthful driver 

Andrea Kimi Antonelli, commonly referred to as Kimi Antonelli, is only 17 years old, and yet he has achieved so much despite his age. Verstappen debuted in F1 at 17, but the rules have been changed since then, so to drive in F1 you must be 18. 

His age is both an advantage and disadvantage, depending on how you look at it. Despite not having much driving experience, he has won four championships in two years, showing his high level of talent. 

He could also bring youth to a team that has been stagnant or struggling, but an F1 team might not want to risk it on a rookie.

Joining the Mercedes Junior Team

Antonelli has been part of the Mercedes Junior Team since 2019. This is an exclusive roster that current F1 driver for Mercedes George Russell and Esteban Ocon for Alpine were also a part of. 

Mercedes is very selective in who they chose to support as there are only seven drivers on the junior team currently.

Antonelli is the most decorated young Mercedes driver out of them all, proving why he was signed up to the British championship winning team. 

He will be looking to emulate Russell who won the F2 championship in his rookie year, but only the future will tell.

Williams or Mercedes 

If Antonelli stepped up to F1, he would likely debut with Williams, who are affiliated with Mercedes by carrying their engine, before he is promoted to Mercedes, as was the case for Russell. Although he would probably hope to not stay there as long as the Brit did as Russell was with the team for three years.

This is common for F1 teams as they like to nurture talent by putting them in a backmarker team to see how they perform under pressure, before they consider promoting them to a top team. 

This was the case for current F1 drivers such as Charles Leclerc and Verstappen, who drove a year or more before being promoted to their respective high-profile teams.

Antonelli would likely hope to drive for a top team as soon as possible to become world champion, but driving for such a historic team as Williams would help introduce the chaotic world of F1 to him. 

With 2024 having a 24-race calendar, the travelling can tire out a driver as explained by 2023 rookie of the year, Oscar Piastri in this F1 podcast.

Whether Antonelli races for Mercedes in 2025 is ultimately up to team principal Toto Wolff. 

Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Wolff said: "He has just turned 17. He has won everything he needed to win in his rookie season, but I think he is going to be in Formula 1.” 

Mercedes might choose drivers such as Frederik Vesti or Mick Schumacher (who are affiliated with Mercedes and driving in sports cars this year) and have more F1 experience instead of the young Italian.

READ MORE: Mercedes bring in former Ferrari technical staff Simone Resta, Enrico Sampo

A racing family 

Antonelli’s father Marco is a former racing driver, which many racing drivers can relate to as some family member has often raced in some professional sense. 

Antonelli also happens to share his middle name with that of 2007 F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen, whom his father was a supporter of according to Auto Bild

Marco Antonelli is also the owner of the AKM Motorsport outfit that is racing in the Italian F4 Championship according to KartXpress

Antonelli donned the AKM Motorsport livery in 2020, showing the close relationship with his father and the legacy they are building together. 

This support is key as families not only have to financially support their children in motorsport, but also emotionally to prepare them for their dream to be a F1 driver whilst also still finishing their formal education.

The next Italian to drive in F1

The last Italian to drive in F1 was Antonio Giovinazzi (2023 Le Mans winner for Ferrari) who drove for Alfa Romeo from 2019-2021. Furthermore, the last Italian to win in F1 was Giancarlo Fisichella in 2006 for Renault. Italy has had to wait for a driver or team championship since 2008, so the Tifosi are eager to see an Italian winning again.

Antonelli has received the personal support of seven-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi.

“I’m very happy to know Kimi because on the paper he can be the future Italian hope in F1. So we stay a bit together sometimes, and he is a great guy I like a lot, we enjoy,” said Rossi, according to Formula Scout

Despite not being a part of his academy (since he drives with four wheels, not two), having a friend in high places does no harm.

An insight into the Italian’s personal life

In a recent YouTube video released by Formula 1, fans get to ‘speed date’ the F2 drivers, discovering bits of information about them. 

In this video, we learn that Antonelli’s favourite food is tortellini and his favourite song is Dua Lipa’s Levitating, as well as many other things about him. 

The Italian also regularly stars in YouTube videos released by Prema, with a variety of content produced by them such as challenges and vlogs. 

In a favourite video of mine, Antonelli and his team-mate at the time, Lorenzo Fluxá, debate over a variety of statements, such as ‘Italian food the best’ and ‘I would survive a zombie apocalypse’. The Italian shows his funny personality and debate skills on silly topics outside of racing.

Check out Planet Sport Bet’s markets for the 2024 Australian Grand Prix.

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