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Toto Wolff: Mercedes star Kimi Antonelli will be a great F1 driver one day

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is impressed by rising star Kimi Antonelli, but believes it's too early to consider him an option to replace Lewis Hamilton.

With Hamilton's departure to Ferrari next term, Mercedes find themselves in need of a new teammate for George Russell, creating a highly coveted vacancy in Formula One.

Numerous contenders are vying for the opportunity, with one prominent name being Mercedes' own junior driver, Antonelli.

The teenager, hailing from Italy, is poised to embark on his debut Formula 2 campaign this year, following his triumph in the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine.

"We got that curveball thrown at us with Lewis in the beginning of February. I want to do the opposite when choosing the driver for next year," Wolff told the media.

"It's clear Kimi has been in our junior category since he was 11 and we have had great pleasure in watching him grow as a young man and growing through the ranks.

"But I also want to take a little bit of pressure off him. He's 17. He's won everything he needed to win in his rookie season, but I think he is going to be a Formula 1 driver. He's going to be a very, very successful driver in Formula 1. But he hasn't started his Formula 2 campaign yet.

"They had a difficult test in the first days in Bahrain and we shall see how this develops.

"I want to wait out the first F2 races that are actually going to go with Formula 1.

"There are many very good pilots in Formula 1 available for next year or so and this is all going to come into the equation when deciding on the driver line-up for next year, but that's not going to happen anytime soon."

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