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Toto Wolff

Wolff confirms Hamilton replacement front-runner at Mercedes

There has been much intrigue over who will replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes next year, with team principal Toto Wolff shedding further light on the situation.

Wolff Mercedes Saudi Arabia
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Mercedes Formula 1 team principal Toto Wolff has confirmed Kimi Antonelli is in the “strongest position” to take a seat at the Brackley-based squad next year.

Mercedes is currently hunting for a second F1 driver to fill the gap set to be left behind by seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Prior to the start of the 2024 season, Hamilton announced that he would part ways with Mercedes at the end of the campaign and join Ferrari next year.

A number of drivers have been touted as potential replacements for Hamilton, including Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz.

However, Antonelli, who will turn 18 later this year, has also been declared as a prospect.

“He's definitely a very strong contender," Wolff told Xinhua.

"I want to see how his F2 season develops, but we will wait and see what happens with some of the other drivers in F1. I don't doubt his raw speed, talent and ability.

"We wouldn't have supported him from go-karting until now if we didn't believe that he has the potential to go into F1 and do so with Mercedes.

“Many young drivers have shown in the past that you can do that step."

Wolff not rushing decision

After claiming the Formula Regional European Championship, Antonelli made the leap to Formula 2 for the 2024 season.

The Italian is currently ninth in the Drivers' Championship after the opening three rounds, scoring a best result of fourth at the Melbourne Feature Race last month.

Despite the driver market being in full swing with several drivers out of contract this year, Wolff is not rushing his decision.

“My feeling at the moment is that I don't want to rush [the decision], because Kimi is part of the ideas for next year and is very much in the strongest position, and that's why we don't need to rush into any other decision," said Wolff.

"Obviously, some of the other top drivers are going to make a decision on what to do soon, but there's a feeling that points me in a direction not to take the decision too quickly."

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