Andrea Kimi Antonelli captures maiden F2 win as Mercedes F1 decision looms

As far as Saturday’s go, it was an impressive one for young Andrea Kimi Antonelli.

And one that added an important item to his resume as a decision looms at Mercedes.

Antonelli captured the Formula 2 Sprint Race in wet and rainy conditions, leading every lap from reverse pole position to score his maiden win in F2.

The victory comes as questions linger about the second seat at Mercedes on the F1 grid for 2025, and whether Antonelli will be ready to make the jump from just one season in F2 to the highest level of single-seater racing. Antonelli, who is yet to turn 18, skipped F3 altogether, and while his already impressive resume has him as the leading candidate for the seat Lewis Hamilton will vacate at the end of the season, it lacked a win in F2.

That changed today.

Antonellii’s maiden F2 win also comes during a week where Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff addressed Antonelli’s “tricky” F2 campaign, and opened the door to options for next season beyond the young phenom.

“Yeah, the season has been a bit tricky because overall the two have not been on a level and I think the team recognises that. That wasn’t great, but last weekend was pretty good. The pace was there, there were mistakes in getaways, so that’s something a rookie needs to learn, that’s clear,” said Wolff when asked about Antonelli during Friday’s FIA Press Conference.

“But he has a lot of pressure. He’s being talked a lot about. His junior formula and go-karting track record is one of a kind. And that’s clear that the pressure ramps up. But it’s like his father says, a champion needs to be thrown in the cold water and needs to swim. So they are very clear about that,” continued Wolff. “But the driver market at the moment is quite a dynamic, interesting thing. I think because some of the drivers have more options and some of the teams have more options. So it’s interesting. And you know, it’s like Bernie [Ecclestone] said: ‘last week I had an opinion, this week I have a different one’.”

Wolff then talked about how Antonelli was handling all the expectations and pressure, drawing a comparison to fellow F2 driver Oliver Bearman, who made some news this week when Haas announced he would be driving for them full-time in F1 next year.

“What I like in terms of his attitude, generally his family, who has been always close to him, is the objective assessment of a situation, and that is good or not good enough. And I don’t think that the pressure harms at all the way he performs in the car and how he drives. You can clearly see it’s a good benchmarking with Ollie Bearman,” said Wolff. “They are pretty close. Ollie had an obviously very good race in Austria and Kimi on the Sunday, had a clutch release issue in the second race. So you’ve got to swim. That’s clear. It was a rapid career progression. He’s 17. Hasn’t got even a driving license for a road car. And the best ones will be able to cope with that, with the amount of scrutiny and the pressure, and it’s going to get bigger.”

If Saturday’s F2 Sprint Race is any indication, Antonelli is starting to handle that pressure rather well.

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