Young Prodigy Reportedly First Choice For Hamilton Replacement At Mercedes

F1
by Adam OndrikMonday, 12 February 2024 at 19:00
antonelli kimi andrea mercedes media1
According to recent reports, Mercedes's "plan A" for Lewis Hamilton's replacement will be a young star who is only set to debut in F2 this season.
The positive thing about the otherwise rather strange timing of the announcement (of Hamilton leaving) for Mercedes is that Toto Wolff now has one season to search for a suitable replacement.
Moreover, quite a lot of drivers will be free from their contracts at the end of the upcoming season, so there are many options to choose from.
On the other hand, the problem is that it is very challenging to replace the seven-time World Champion and the most successful driver in the history of F1.
Currently, only one driver on the grid could offer the team the same level of experience. Can you guess who? Indeed, the double World Champion Fernando Alonso.

"From what we understand, he is not Mercedes’ Plan A. But is currently the absolute favorite for Plan B."

It seems like Mercedes has three options at the moment. The first one is trying to replace the 39-year-old with someone who could offer a similar level of experience. That would be mainly Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel (who is retired at the moment).
The second option is choosing from other drivers on the grid that may not be on Hamilton's level but show great speed and potential to grow further. These include Alex Albon or Esteban Ocon, for example.
And the last option is trying to replicate what Red Bull did with Max Verstappen. Wolff currently has a very promising talent in his hands as part of Mercedes's academy.
The 17-year-old Andrea Kimi Antonelli has won pretty much everything he could in junior categories so far, and in 2024, he will skip F3 to jump straight into F2. As The Race claims, the young prodigy is Mercedes's "plan A" at the moment.

"Mercedes’ Plan A, The Race firmly believes, is Andrea Kimi Antonelli, the 17-year-old about to embark upon his first season in F2, with five years on Mercedes’ books."

It is understood that if the 17-year-old scores a decent result (something like top 3) in F2 this season, at least a seat in Williams should be a possibility for him.
The team principal of Mercedes hinted in his most recent interview that it might be time to do "something bold." Could we see Antonelli in Mercedes in 2025?