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Toto Wolff

Wolff concerned replacing Hamilton with young star could 'drown' him

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is concerned that promoting junior driver Kimi Antonelli in 2025 could "drown" him.

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has confirmed that junior driver Kimi Antonelli is an option to replace Lewis Hamilton in 2025, although the Austrian fears drowning the "young kid".

Antonelli has been tipped as a future star in Formula 1 and is widely regarded as the hottest prospect since three-time world champion Max Verstappen.

The Italian has already been described as the "best driver in an F3 car since Verstappen" and has made a positive start to his debut F2 campaign for Prema Racing.

Verstappen is another option for Mercedes should he decide to depart Red Bull at the end of 2024, a situation Wolff is monitoring.

However, if the Dutchman stays at Red Bull, then Antonelli is a possibility despite being just 17 years of age.

"I don't know yet. I think it depends also what Max does," Wolff told Fox Sports Australia.

"And then we have a young kid that is very promising, and I don't want to put more extra pressure on him. But it looks like he can be one of the great ones.

"But we also don't want to drown him by jumping so quickly into an F1 car at 17. So there's a few options that we could play with him.”

'Few' contenders

Besides Verstappen and Antonelli, Wolff does have other options to replace Hamilton, including Carlos Sainz - the driver the seven-time world champion is replacing at Ferrari.

Wolff views double world champion Fernando Alonso and Australian Grand Prix winner Carlos Sainz as contenders, although the Austrian is wanting to make Hamilton's seat a tough one for any driver to get their hands on.

"Well, obviously there's Fernando who is very exciting," added Wolff. "And Carlos [is] very good. So there are a few ones.

“This time I'm going to make the play like the bride that's difficult to get."

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