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James Vowles

Williams air 'primary concern' in response to growing driver swap rumours

Williams team principal James Vowles has refuted claims that Williams are looking to put Mercedes junior Andrea Kimi Antonelli in the FW46 in place of current driver Logan Sargeant.

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Williams team principal James Vowles has attempted to pour cold water on the rumour that F2 driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli will replace Logan Sargeant at the team before the end of the current F1 season.

Through growing speculation about Sargeant's future with Williams, Antonelli has emerged as the favourite to take over his FW46, although when that switch might take place depends on different sources.

As Antonelli is just 17 years old, he is not eligible to drive in F1, but has completed a number of private test sessions recently with Mercedes given his junior driver status.

RacingNews365 has received confirmation that special dispensation has been requested to the FIA for Antonelli to be awarded his FIA super licence early - although it is not known if that process has been initiated by Williams.

"I'll give you my perspective on it: we have far bigger problems to solve than drivers at the moment," Vowles told media including RacingNews365 when asked about Antonelli being linked to Williams.

"Alex [Albon] has done championship-level drives and at the moment, he's not scoring points.

"Fundamentally, we have it on us to improve our car going forward. That's my primary concern more than anything else and what we do with drivers going into '25, '26."

'Logan has to earn his seat'

It is believed that Mercedes are keen to put Antonelli in the Williams for a year or two, before then promoting him to the works team, much in the way it handled George Russell's F1 career.

When asked about Antonelli's recent tests at Imola and the Red Bull Ring, Vowles was quick to shut down any ties or knowledge sharing between the teams on the young driver.

He also cautioned there was "nothing to reference" those tests, adding that he only knows from what he reads in the media, and that he has not spoken to Antonelli since Abu Dhabi last season.

Vowles did, however, highlight the huge step Antonelli has taken by skipping F3 and going straight into F2, and now potentially into F1 without completing a single season in the support paddock.

"In a sense of Kimi [Andrea Kimi Antonelli], you have to remember just 20 months ago he was in a Formula 4 car," said Vowles. "That's a large step up into a Formula 1 car in such a short space of time."

Underlining Williams has its own young driver programme, he added: "I can't really adjudicate to the level he's at. In case of him coming into the [Williams] car this year, I've always said from the beginning: It's a meritocracy.

"Logan [Sargeant] has to earn his seat and at the moment he has some tough targets, where he has to get much closer to Alex [Albon], but there is nothing on the radar at the moment for replacing him."

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