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FIA opens possibility for 17-year-olds to get F1 superlicence

by Ida Wood

Photo: Mercedes-AMG F1

The FIA modified its superlicence requirements on Tuesday during its second World Motor Sport CouncilĀ meeting of 2024.

In article 13 of the Appendix L of the International Sporting Code, which relates to qualification requirements for FIA superlicences, the line “the driver must be the holder of a valid driving licence when he applies for a Super Licence for the first time” has been removed from the requirements for a full and free practice-only superlicence.

That requirement had also existed to qualify for the FIA’s two e-Licences, which enables drivers to either compete in free practice or race in Formula E, but has been removed from article 14 of the ISC too.

While the requirement remains that drivers should be at least 18 years old before starting their “first F1 competition”, a new line has been added for both full and free practice-only superlicences stating:

“At the sole discretion of the FIA, a driver judged to have recently and consistently demonstrated outstanding ability and maturity in single-seater formula car competition may be granted a Super Licence at the age of 17 years old.”

The consensus is, despite no indication from the FIA that this is the case, that these changes have been made to enable Mercedes-AMG to promote its junior driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli to F1.

Antonelli is 17 years old and is embarking on his rookie season in Formula 2, with three fourth places his best results from his first 10 races. He turns 18 in August, and for 2025 has been heavily linked to replacing the Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes or to join one of its powertrain customers such as Williams.

The Italian is currently sixth in the F2 standings, and should he end the season outside of the top 10 he would still meet the points requirement to qualify for a superlicence since he scored 43 points by winning the Formula Regional Europe and Middle East championships last year and a further 24 points by taking the title in ADAC and Italian Formula 4 in 2022.

The change could potentially allow Antonelli to take part in a race weekend – either just practice sessions or a full grand prix – before his birthday on August 25, should the FIA decide he has shown enough ability to meet its new requirement.

Alcohol testing has also been removed from the scope of the FIA’s spec medical examinations that competitors can be made to take during events.