Andrea Kimi Antonelli, Imola, 2024

Latest Antonelli test was not a “shootout” – Mercedes

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Mercedes have firmly rejected claims a recent test involving Andrea Kimi Antonelli and two of its other drivers amounted to a “shootout” to decide its future line-up.

Formula 2 driver Antonelli, who is under consideration for the seat Lewis Hamilton will vacate at the end of the year, is to test for the team again at the Circuit de Catalunya next week.

Antonelli joined George Russell and reserve driver Mick Schumacher for a recent test at Silverstone. Mercedes said in a statement some reports had “incorrectly labelled” the private test as a “shootout.” This “was neither the intention nor the findings of the running,” it said.

They pointed out the three drivers did not test simultaneously and therefore set their laps in different conditions. The trio completed different programmes during the test, Mercedes added.

“Unfortunately, unverified speculation has led to conclusions and comparisons being published that do not reflect what happened,” said the team.

A further, three-day test will be held this week in Spain using the team’s 2022 specification W13 chassis. This is the most recent car Mercedes can run under F1’s ‘Testing of Previous Cars’ regulations.

“Both Mick and Kimi have done an excellent job delivering their respective programmes, to the complete satisfaction of the team, and we are looking forward to three busy days of running next week, too,” the team added.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has previously said he is keen to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on Antonelli, as he evaluates his options to take the place of seven-times champion Hamilton. Antonelli made the unusual move of stepping up from the Formula Regional European Championship, which he won last year, into Formula 2, bypassing Formula 3.

Antonelli lies sixth in the F2 standings after 10 of 28 races, 32 points behind leader Paul Aron, a former Mercedes junior driver.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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26 comments on “Latest Antonelli test was not a “shootout” – Mercedes”

  1. Stephen Taylor
    31st May 2024, 15:50

    Mick I doubt is a seriousc ontender for the Merc seat given his poor track record in his two seasons with Haas. If Merc considers Mick the only other candidate against Antonelli then surely the kid get gets the drive.

    1. I don’t know, Mercedes might be nervous about putting a rookie straight into the team. There has been some talk of farming Antonelli out to Williams for a season – although it is not clear to what extent Mercedes still has a say over driver choices at Williams. In that scenario you could see a driver like Mick as a stopgap while they wait for Antonelli to show his worth.

      1. Stephen Taylor
        31st May 2024, 16:10

        There was big talk about him going to Williams because people thought Merc might go for Sainz which seems less likely at this stage. Mick has never been thought of as a serious contender by anybody for that Merc seat as far as i’m aware and it would be a major shock if he got it.

      2. In some way Mercedes’ loss of performance might be what allows them to take that gamble. If you’re trying to win the title and going up against Vettel or Verstappen, it’s no good having a big unknown in the second car. If you’re left trying to score the odd podium, it’s less of a risk. It might cost them a couple of points due to inexperience (but that never really stops the true greats), but they’re not reliant on that money like some of the truly bad teams.

        1. Stephen Taylor
          31st May 2024, 16:50

          Bring Vettel back if Merc are challenging for the title ? Really? Seb was past it when he left F1 so bringing him out of retirement to if you are are challenging for the title wouldn’t be a good idea for anybody concerned

          1. It was a reference to their earlier decisions (Bottas and Russell).

            It is now easier to take a gamble on a young driver as the stakes are lower.

      3. @red-andy The Williams speculation is outdated already & Mercedes has never had any say on their driver choices, & neither has any other team or manufacturer, for that matter, given Williams is a fully independent team (for reference, Visa RB is literally the only team for which another other party decides drivers, given Red Bull organization ultimately decides who drives for the B-team, but no other team is or has been like this).
        The situation has developed in a way that only either Bottas or Sainz would replace Sargeant, if anyone, in the first place, while Antonelli seems more & more likely to become Hamilton’s direct successor, after all.

      4. If they’ve paid even the slightest attention to how rookies that went on be super stars have performed in their rookie seasons, Mercedes shouldn’t be nervous about putting a rookie in the seat if they really think Kimi has the talent to be a big superstar.

    2. The performance of Mick in the bad Haas cars (one a year outdated, the other jumping around, with the poor coaching from the pitwall is far from the best way to evaluate a driver. One could say George was not impressive in the Williams, for the same reason, but he has since proven his value, I believe

      1. Stephen Taylor
        31st May 2024, 16:05

        Eh? George qualified P2 in a Williams at Spa mate!

        1. Sure, he was always good in qualis, but Williams’s only point for some reason was reached thanks to Kubica…

        2. Was that before or after he crashed under safety car in Imola?

          1. It was spa 2021 when he had that super quali, so it has to be after, I guess, since he got the merc seat in 2022 and imola is earlier than spa in the calendar.

          2. Crashing under the safety car isn’t really a great test of a drivers talent. World champions have done it.

          3. Jockey Ewing
            1st June 2024, 0:08

            IIRC Russell crashed with Bottas in 2021 at Imola, and by then there was a significant amount of speculation about GR taking VB’s seat. And because of this, it is easy to remember that it happened in 2021.
            Then crashing under safety car at Imola must have been in 2020. On the other hand I do not blame him not scoring points at that situation, or overdoing the tyre warming. To score that point he would have needed to withstand a charge vs Raikkonen.
            The Alfa Romeo was the better car considering the race pace by then, and Kimi was on a new set of softer compound, while Russell was on a really worn set of hards, and obviously, pitting for tyres against considerably faster cars was not an option for a backmarker team. I repeat, more than 10 laps vs softer and considerably newer tyres in the DRS era, against a better car. Scoring that point was closer to a dream, than to reality. According to the linked Pirelli site, GR pitted on lap 11 for those Hards. Before the safety car restart on lap 48 of the 63 laps race distance, Kimi pitted for new Softs. GR crashed out on lap 51 while warming his tyres. Imo being 2 compounds down + 40 laps of tyre life down + a slight disadvantage on the car side is a bit too much even on this track.


            On the other hand, GR by now not looks like a many times champion candidate. If the management is clever, they will not tell it to him. Still, parking him for 3 years at Williams was too much, but the driver market was very stagnant.

      2. One can say a lot of things, but it was very clear throughout George’s run at Williams that he was both quick and talented. Yes, the car was bad, but talented drivers can do impressive things compared to what you’d expect from a bad car.

        Mick never showed any of this during his stint at Haas. Maybe he should get another shot at F1, but definitely not at one of the top teams based on what he did at Haas.

        As for Antonelli, I would not put him in my 2nd Mercedes seat either, one could excuse his current lackluster F2 performance down to a poorly performing Prema along with his own inexperience. But unless he starts turning things around, he’s definitely not ready to step up to a high pressure environment at a top team against a driver at George’s level. Give him at least a season more in F2 or at a team like Williams in F1. He is not yet fully cooked and should not be in a Mercedes yet.

        People are quick to point to Max or Charles, but both of them did a year at the lower midfield before getting the call up, for good reason, testing in old cars is all good and well, but give the lad some time before you pile on the pressures of a Mercedes seat.

        1. Indeed. While IMO, George has disappointed majorly at Mercedes, there’s absolutely nothing about his time at Williams to impugn. He excelled thoroughly in his time there. Maybe, the only thing you could say is that in their last year together is that the gap to Latiffi wasn’t that big a number of times. However, I’d put that more down to Latiffi just improving with time.

    3. I think it’d make more sense to put antonelli at merc if they rate him so highly, mick didn’t have an impressive start to his f1 career but imo he’s definitely good enough to be in f1, surely when you have drivers like sargeant around, so I think he could do decently at williams, though I remember that vowles wasn’t too keen on that some months ago.

      He’s definitely an upgrade over sargeant anyway, he was improving on his 2nd season, unlike sargeant.

      1. @esploratore1 Not necessarily a given Mick would be an upgrade over Sargeant at Williams, like both Bottas & Sainz would most certainly be, especially after a hiatus.

      2. Sargent and Zhou are gone at the end of this season at latest. Magnussen too. So, beyond Stroll who is better than either of those drivers, there will not be any “well, with drivers like XYZ in F1, Mick deserves a spot” case to be made. However, Mick basically looked better than K Mag in the second half or final third of his second season. So, Mick could obviously be a solid F1 driver. But teams don’t sign young drivers because they have the potential to just be solid drivers. And the pay driver is now an endangered species with Stroll basically being the only one as of next season. Checo is sort of becoming one, but that’s a different case all together.

  2. These yong guys (Antonelli, Bearmen) aren’t clearly ahead of the rest in their own league yet. It would be unfair to expect them to be competitive as soon as they come to F1. Imposing too high expectations in advance may negatively affect their development.

    1. There’s no way you can say that about OB. It’s rather unclear if they’re actually behind because of lack of talent (Bearman doesn’t have the experience excuse in his second season) or inexperience in the case of Kimi (never really a good excuse in F2 IMO) or because their team are struggling to dial in the car. Either way, Kimi has basically been near the top of the quali stack from the word go and the season is extremely young. So, hard to know if the rather small gap they have in pace to the 2-3 drivers who have been consistently faster is actually their fault.

  3. Toto should have kept his mouth shut about Antonelli. He doesn’t realize what kind of harm hes doing to younger competitors who are trying to legitimately place themselves. Bearman and Hadjar will run circles around this guy currently, and its not really his fault. Hes not around guys like Red Bull, who know racing and how to win.

    1. Kimi has looked as good or better than OB, but OK…

  4. In the final season at Haas it was clear that Steiner didn’t want him and he initially struggled with the new car. Magnusson got a few point finishes early in the season, but the faster driver over the year was clearly Mick. Magnusson didn’t deserve the seat as has been evidenced by his comparison to Hulkenberg.
    He’d be solid if unspectacular if he was given the seat.

  5. So it was!

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