Lewis Hamilton snubs rival as he sends clear message to Mercedes chief Toto Wolff - 'I would'

Lewis Hamilton snubs rival as he sends clear message to Mercedes chief Toto Wolff - 'I would'

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Lewis Winter

By Lewis Winter

Published: 21/05/2024

- 16:51

Mercedes need to find a driver to step into Hamilton's shoes from 2025

Lewis Hamilton believes Andrea Kimi Antonelli would be the perfect driver to replace him at Mercedes next year.

The Brit says he would pick the young Italian ahead of Carlos Sainz, whom he is set to take the seat of at Ferrari from 2025.

Hamilton made the shock announcement earlier this year that he would be leaving Mercedes after his 12th season with the team.

He will fulfil a childhood dream of driving for Ferrari as he aims to win an eighth record-breaking world championship before he retires.

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes should replace him with Andrea Kimi Antonelli


Mercedes are yet to finalise who will step into Hamilton's shoes and team up with George Russell from next year.

Three-time back-to-back world champion Max Verstappen has been linked with a shock move to the Silver Arrows.

Sainz has also been mentioned after it was announced he would lose his spot at Ferrari to Hamilton.

But, if Hamilton was in charge, he would choose teenager Antonelli to take his seat.

The 39-year-old said: "Carlos is a great driver, so I think wherever he goes I think he would be a positive for any team.

"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."

Antonelli, 17, is highly rated by Mercedes and has been part of the junior team since 2019.

He had his first test with the team in April this year but is yet to drive in an F1 race.

Speaking at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff hinted Antonelli could be the chosen candidate.

Wolff said: "I guess for the Italians it's super exciting to have Lewis Hamilton in red next year.

"We will get used to the outfits, but we have got to look at ourselves.

"Maybe there is an option that we shine more with an Italian in our car, so we're pushing back hard."


Andrea Kimi Antonelli

Andrea Kimi Antonelli is highly-rated at Mercedes but hasn't driven in F1 yet


But Wolff has also warned not to put too much expectation on Antonelli's shoulders at such a young age.

He added: "We are hyping that young man for a long time now and he will be a very good and a great driver one day in Formula 1, but he's 17.

"Fourteen months ago, he drove an F4 car and there is so much expectation in Italy.

"We are also a little bit guilty about talking about him at that stage and I think we should let him do his F2 thing, deliver results and not be too carried away with what could be or should be.

Carlos Sainz

Carlos Sainz's future is unclear with the star set to leave Ferrari


"Look at George [Russell], he has won F3 and F2 in his rookie year.

"At the same time, Kimi has delivered on those junior series and is in F2 now so we will see. He's going to be in Formula 1 one day but let's not rush."

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