oto Wolff drops biggest hint yet over Lewis Hamilton replacement with teenager a ‘very strong contender’

TOTO WOLFF has dropped his biggest hint yet as to who will replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.

It was revealed in February that Hamilton would be joining Ferrari in a shock move worth £100million.

Wolff has dropped the biggest hint yet as to who will replace Lewis Hamilton

Wolff has dropped the biggest hint yet as to who will replace Lewis HamiltonCredit: Rex

It ended an 11 year association between Hamilton and Mercedes which began in 2013.

All eyes have been on who Mercedes will announce as Hamilton’s replacement with Carlos Sainz being the current favourite to take his place in an informal swap deal.

Max Verstappen would also be in demand should he leave Red Bull amid the fallout of Christian Horner’s scandal.

The rumour mill was also sent into overdrive after Wolff was pictured having breakfast with Fernando Alonso’s boss Flavio Briatore in February.

But Wolff has surprisingly named 17-year-old F2 driver Kimi Antonelli as the person in the “strongest position” to take over at Mercedes.

Wolff told F1TV: “[Antonelli] is definitely a very strong contender. I want to see how his F2 season develops, but we will wait and see what happens with some of the other drivers in F1. I don’t doubt his raw speed, talent and ability.

“We wouldn’t have supported him from go-karting until now if we didn’t believe that he has the potential to go into F1 and do so with Mercedes. Many young drivers have shown in the past that you can do that step.

“My feeling at the moment is that I don’t want to rush [the decision], because Kimi is part of the ideas for next year and is very much in the strongest position, and that’s why we don’t need to rush into any other decision.

Wolff has identified 17-year-old Kimi Antonelli as a potential Mercedes driver


Wolff has identified 17-year-old Kimi Antonelli as a potential Mercedes driverCredit: Getty


“Obviously, some of the other top drivers are going to make a decision on what to do soon, but there’s a feeling that points me in a direction not to take the decision too quickly.”

Wolff talking up the prospect of Antonelli joining suggests that a driver coming in would play second fiddle to George Russell but that could change.

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Antonelli races for Formula 2 team Prema and competes with Ferrari’s own wonderkid Oliver Bearman.

Wolff confirmed Mercedes would allow Antonelli to get some experience with a Formula One car later this month, saying: “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.

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

“I have a picture of him standing next to me on the centre 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 will undergo a two-day test on April 16 and 17 and will be desperate to boss Mercedes bosses.

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