Lewis Hamilton names Mercedes replacement days after Toto Wolff denied approach.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has the hard job of replacing Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton next season

Lewis Hamilton has given his backing for Andrea Kimi Antonelli to replace him at Mercedes. It’s yet to be decided who will fill the vacancy left by Hamilton when he departs for Ferrari ahead of next season

One of those in contention is 17-year-old Antonelli, who bypassed Formula 3 to make his debut in F2 this season. He seems destined for an F1 seat in the future having dominated the junior scene.

And as far as Hamilton’s concerned, if you’re good enough you’re old enough. He was asked at last weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix if Carlos Sainz, who’s making way for him at Ferrari, would be a good option.


“Carlos is a great driver, so I think wherever he goes I think he would be a positive for any team,” Hamilton responded. “Honestly, I have no idea what Toto’s plans are, but for me, taking on a youngster, if it was my role, I would probably take on Kimi.”

Mercedes team principal Wolff has played down the links, insisting reports that they’d requested an exemption for a super licence – for which the usual minimum age is 18 – were incorrect.


He said: “So many stories were created, and it doesn’t do him any favours because he needs to concentrate on his F2 campaign. He’s doing lots of testing for us to bring him up to speed.


“I think this decision of the second driver is weeks if not months away. We didn’t make any approach to the FIA about getting an earlier release.”

Wolff is conscious of not putting too much pressure on Antonelli’s young shoulders, adding: “We are hyping the young man for a long time now. He will be a very good and a great driver one day in Formula 1, but he is 17.


“14 months ago, he drove an F4 car and there’s so much expectation in Italy and we [are also] a little bit guilty also about talking about him at that stage. I think we should let him do his F2 thing and deliver results and not be too carried away with what could be or should be.”

But he has hinted at their interest, telling Sky in Imola that Mercedes could “shine more with an Italian in our car”. Max Verstappen also has been touted to take Hamilton’s seat, but his Red Bull deal runs until 2028.

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