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Antonelli: “I don’t want to set any expectation” for results as F2 rookie

by Ida Wood

Photo: Prema

Formula 1’s media may be talking up Andrea Kimi Antonelli’s chances of being on the 2025 grid, but the 17-year-old is ignoring the hype ahead of his Formula 2 debut.

The Mercedes-AMG F1 junior was Formula Regional Europe and Middle East champion last year, and has bypassed Formula 3 to join frequent title threat Prema in F2. His first races take place this weekend at Bahrain, the track where he got his first proper experience of the new Dallara F2 2024 car in testing earlier this month.

He drove its predecessor, the Dallara F2 2018, in Abu Dhabi last December and that test led to him having a “quite intense” winter as he had to work hard to be ‘prepared physically’ for the demands of a high-downforce single-seater and longer races.

“After the three days [in Abu Dhabi] I was quite tired physically, so that for sure was one thing to work on,” Antonelli explained, revealing he also had to adapt to the more powerful braking.

“I need to get used to the carbon brakes, which were quite a big step compared to the previous cars [I raced]. So that was for sure one main thing. Also to be able to use a bit better the downforce of the car. Especially on the entry phase of the corner. Those were the two main things to work on after Abu Dhabi.”

He added: “In Bahrain I had three days to work on that [improving with downforce], and I think also on that side I did a big step forward.”

Antonelli sees “not that much different” with F2’s new car compared to its old one, meaning what he learned he needed to improve on from his Abu Dhabi test still applied when he got in the new car at Bahrain. He had a positive outlook through pre-season testing, unlike his team-mate Ollie Bearman, as the Prema pair were both two seconds slower than the fastest lap of the test and Antonelli was 20th on long-run pace. Yet many still expect the pair to be among the top drivers in the standings this year.

“I don’t want to set any expectation,” said Antonelli. “I know it’s going to be tough, because the level is really high. I have to say I’m lucky to have a strong team-mate, because I can learn a lot from him, so it’s going to be really important to try to steal all the knowledge from him during the season.”

The Italian affirmed “of course I want to win, but I know it’s not going to be easy, and we’ll see during the season where we are”.

One element of the championship he still has to figure out is pitstops for tyre changes, a new concept in his single-seater career.

“I have to be honest, I thought it was really easy. But when I did the first pit stop practice it wasn’t at all,” he admitted. “It’s going to be something new for me. We’ll get a little bit of time to maximise it.”