Lewis Hamilton plans to spend at least two more seasons with Mercedes having signed a contract until 2025, but Toto Wolff knows he will eventually have to replace him
Sadly, that isn’t going to happen and Toto Wolff knows that, eventually, he will have to find someone to fill the seven-time world champion’s racing shoes. That is going to be no small task – for the Mercedes chief or for the driver who gets the nod.
Hamilton has a contract until the end of 2025 and there is no reason to suggest that this will be his last Formula 1 deal. With the 39-year-old still going strong and many different factors in play, it is too early to pick out any hot favourites to replace him.
But one of the major candidates may well be Andrea Kimi Antonelli. The Italian racing starlet, 17, is the crown jewel of the Mercedes driver academy and has a burgeoning reputation thanks to his excellent performances in the junior categories.
His record in karting and at F4 level has seen him fast-tracked through the system. He will race in Formula 2 this season, skipping Formula 3 altogether, and will be in what is expected to be a quick car with the Prema team alongside hot Ferrari prospect Oliver Bearman.
That move has only served to increase the hype around the teenager. And, although Mercedes team principal Wolff is keen to keep Antonelli’s feet on the ground, he admits that his team has a special talent on its hands.
“We got Kimi under the wings in 2012 and he was a great kid already then,” he said. “You could see the character [and] he was strong. We had him in the garage and there was a lot of confidence. In go-karting his track record was immense and then you put him in the junior formulas and he wins every single season in his rookie year.
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