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Mercedes confirms maiden F1 test for Andrea Kimi Antonelli

by Ida Wood

Photo: Sebastiaan Rozendaal / Dutch Photo Agency

Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 team principal Toto Wolff has confirmed recent speculation that the team is planning a private test for its junior driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli.

The first report of Antonelli making his F1 test debut came in Italian media last month, stating that Mercedes was to rent out the Imola circuit on March 29/30 to provide Antonelli with two days of running in its F1 W13 car from 2022.

Formula Scout reached out to Mercedes about that report but received no confirmation from the team, then further stories – also originating from Italy – appeared at the start of this month which said that Formula 2 racer Antonelli would instead get his first F1 test mileage at the Red Bull Ring and would do so in Mercedes’ F1 W12 car from 2021.

In an interview with F1 TV at the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend, Wolff was asked to share details about the reported upcoming test.

“Can you just tell us a bit about it? I believe it’s at the Red Bull Ring where you used to be an instructor. Can you give him some pointers?” were the questions F1 TV’s Greg Stuart put to Wolff.

“Well, that would be really bad if I would be starting to give Andrea instructions. But yeah, it’s going to be there [at the Red Bull Ring] with a 2021 car,” replied Wolff.

“We want to give him the feeling of what a really good car looks like. And then we are going to put him in the 2022 car to see what the difference is.”

Mercedes claimed the constructors’ title with the F1 W12, while its successor only won one grand prix and the team slipped to third in the constructors’ standings.

“I’m really keen and happy to see [Antonelli] in a F1 car. He’s been with us since he was 11,” Wolff continued.

“I have a picture of him standing next to me on the center console as a baby boy in go karting and now to witness that development into a F1 driver is something that I’m really proud of.”

Antonelli became a Mercedes F1 junior back in 2018 while in mini karting, and when he reached senior karting he won two FIA-recognised European titles.

In the summer of 2021 he made his car racing debut at the Red Bull Ring, and after a few outings in Formula 4 claimed his first podium. He dominated the category in 2022, taking the ADAC and Italian F4 titles with a combined tally of 22 victories, winning two races in F4 United Arab Emirates and also winning the Motorsport Games F4 Cup for his home country Italy.

For 2023 he stepped up to Formula Regional, and took eight race victories en route to winning the Middle East and then the European championship.

Antonelli has driven for Prema throughout his single-seater career, and he bypassed Formula 3 to be part of the team’s F2 line-up this year. The 17-year-old sits ninth in the standings after the first three rounds of his rookie campaign, with a best finish of fourth so far.