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Andrea Kimi Antonelli could make Formula 1 appearance before he turns 18 after FIA change

Mercedes will hope to sustain their return to form as the 2024 Formula 1 season continues with the Spanish Grand Prix; watch the whole Barcelona weekend live on Sky Sports F1, with qualifying on Saturday June 22 at 3pm and the race on Sunday June 23 at 2pm

BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 28: Andrea Kimi Antonelli (ITA, Prema Racing) at Bahrain International Circuit on Wednesday February 28, 2024 in Sakhir, Bahrain. (Photo by Simon Galloway / LAT Images)
Image: Andrea Kimi Antonelli could make an appearance in Formula 1 before he turns 18

Italian Andrea Kimi Antonelli could make an appearance in Formula 1 before he turns 18 after the governing body, the FIA, modified licence age limits that have been in place since Max Verstappen debuted at 17 in 2015.

Antonelli is tipped to replace Ferrari-bound, seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes at the end of the season but has also been linked to Logan Sargeant's seat at Williams.

The Mercedes-backed Italian is currently competing in Formula 2 and turns 18 on August 25, ruling him out of the next six race weekends.

Lewis Hamilton and Andrea Kimi Antonelli
Image: Antonelli could replace Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes at the end of the season

There has been speculation that Mercedes-powered Williams, or Mercedes, want to run Antonelli in their car in Friday practice before then at European circuits he is familiar with.

The FIA's International Sporting Code previously stated that drivers must be at least 18 and hold a valid driving licence, a rule introduced after now-triple champion Verstappen's precocious arrival.

The minimum age for a driving licence in Italy is 18 but that clause was quietly deleted this week in the FIA regulations.

A new clause now says that "at the sole discretion of the FIA, a driver judged to have recently and consistently demonstrated outstanding ability and maturity in single-seater formula car competition may be granted a Super Licence at the age of 17 years old".

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Antonelli already has sufficient points from junior series to qualify and has been testing privately with Mercedes in older F1 cars, most recently in Barcelona this month.

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said at last week's Canadian Grand Prix that he wanted to concentrate on Antonelli for the future, although he has also stressed he does not want to rush the Italian.

"We want to reinvent ourselves a little bit going forward and Kimi Antonelli definitely plays a part in that," said the Austrian.

Formula 1 heads back to Europe as the championship moves on to Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix. Watch every session at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya from June 21-23 live on Sky Sports F1. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership - No contract, cancel anytime

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