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George Russell

Russell praises possible Hamilton successor: 'Great opportunity for Mercedes'

George Russell continues to not know who his 2025 team-mate will be, although he views one option as a big chance for Mercedes.

Russell Monaco
To news overview © XPBimages

George Russell believes Mercedes has a "great opportunity" in the future with its teenage sensation Andrea Kimi Antonelli, who is a leading contender to replace Lewis Hamilton.

At just 17 years old, Antonelli has been hailed as the most exciting junior driver since Max Verstappen worked his way through the ranks, and has recently tested old Mercedes F1 machinery. 

The Italian reportedly impressed during his tests, one of which at Imola was conducted using its 2022 car, meaning he has gained some experience of the current regulations.

However, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is yet to decide if Antonelli will make an immediate jump from F2 to the Silver Arrows F1 outfit in 2025. Despite this, his name as been linked the most to Hamilton's seat. 

Even the seven-time world champion himself thinks the Prema F2 driver should be his successor.

"To be honest, I have no idea what Toto Wolff's plans are, but if I were in that role, I would choose Kimi," Hamilton said ahead of the recent Emilia Romagna Grand Prix to select media including RacingNews365.

'Anyone is welcome'

Of course, with Russell contracted until the end of 2025, it will be himself who Antonelli would partner should the Italian be promoted. 

Whether the Mercedes protégée is given Hamilton's seat for next season or not, Russell has no doubt that Antonelli will soon become an F1 driver.

"Kimi is a fantastic driver, obviously driving in Formula 2 this year. He will undoubtedly become an F1 driver in the future," Russell told select media including RacingNews365

"And he is a fellow, as a junior driver, who like myself has come through all the classes with the team. So I think it's a great opportunity for Mercedes to continue building for the future."

The Briton, however, is still keeping all options open, with him being happy to welcome any driver into the team as his new team-mate. 

"But as I said before, I welcome anyone who will become my team-mate," added Russell. 

"I feel I already have a good team-mate at the moment. So anyone is welcome."

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