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F1: Mercedes confirm testing schedule amid Andrea Kimi Antonelli speculation to replace Lewis Hamilton in 2025

Italian teenager Andrea Kimi Antonelli is one of the main candidates to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes at the start of next year; Hamilton is leaving Mercedes for Ferrari after this season; watch the Canadian GP on June 7-9 with every session live on Sky Sports F1

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Sky Sports News' Craig Slater gives the latest on the F1 driver market and talks us through his predictions for what the 2025 grid might look like.

Mercedes have clarified rumours that Andrea Kimi Antonelli was involved in a testing shootout to decide who replaces Lewis Hamilton for the 2025 F1 season.

Sky Sports News understands 17-year-old Antonelli is one of the leading candidates to take over Hamilton's seat, while Max Verstappen remains a target for Mercedes, but his Red Bull contract expires at the end of 2028.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz is understood to not be an option for Mercedes, leaving Antonelli and Verstappen as the two main candidates.

Antonelli was involved in a private test of an old F1 car, known as a TPC in F1, in early May at Silverstone where George Russell and Mick Schumacher also drove Mercedes' 2022 car.

Rumours circulated online that the test was a shootout between Antonelli and Schumacher to see who would be Russell's new team-mate from 2025 but Mercedes have responded.

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Mercedes Technical Director James Allison described Kimi Antonelli as a 'promising young driver' after his recent F1 test.

"Our most recent TPC test in Silverstone included Mick, Kimi and George," said a Mercedes spokesperson.

"It was incorrectly labelled a "shootout", which was neither the intention nor the findings of the running. It's important to understand that each driver completed different programmes, on different days, in different track and weather conditions.

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"Unfortunately, unverified speculation has led to conclusions and comparisons being published that do not reflect what happened.

"Both Mick and Kimi have done an excellent job delivering their respective programmes, to the complete satisfaction of the team."

Mercedes also confirmed Antonelli and Schumacher, who last drove in F1 in 2022 for Haas, will drive the 2022 car again in a three-day private test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya next week.

Who is Andrea Kimi Antonelli?

  • Antonelli is from Bologna, Italy
  • He is just 17 years old
  • Mercedes signed him to their junior programme in 2019
  • Antonelli was dominant in karting
  • In 2022, he won the Italian and German F4 championships in his rookie campaign
  • In 2023, he claimed the Formula Regional Middle East and European titles
  • Antonelli skipped F3 and is competing in F2 with the Prema team, where he is team-mates with Britain's Oliver Beraman

Antonelli receives Hamilton backing

Mercedes tested Antonelli in their 2021 and 2022 F1 cars in April but have tried to play down their expectations of the Italian.

Antonelli is highly rated after he won multiple junior single-seater titles at the first time of asking since stepping up from karts to racing cars in 2021.

At the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in May, Hamilton was asked whether Sainz would be a good fit for Mercedes but responded by saying his preference would be Antonelli.

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Lewis Hamilton says that there are encouraging signs for Mercedes as upgrades keep coming after a positive result in Monaco.

"Carlos is a great driver, so I think wherever he goes I think he would be a positive for any team," said Hamilton.

"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 have denied reports they asked for an exemption from the FIA to award Antonelli a superlicence to drive in F1.

After Verstappen joined the sport as a 17-year-old, the sport's governing body introduced a minimum age restriction of 18 years old.

Antonelli is 17 but turns 18 on August 25 this year, the same day as the Dutch Grand Prix. Due to his junior success, he already has enough superlicence points to race in F1, so only his age is stopping him.

Wolff spoke to Sky Sports F1 about his feelings of Hamilton racing in Imola, Italy for the first time since his shock move to Ferrari was announced and brought up Antonelli.

"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," he said.

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

Formula 1 leaves Europe for the final time before the summer break as the championship moves on to Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix. Watch every session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve from June 7-9 live on Sky Sports F1, with Sunday's race at 7pm. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership - No contract, cancel anytime

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