Mercedes has been in deep trouble since 2022. It was when they introduced the zero sidepod concept as the new cost cap era began. The plan backfired as the Silver Arrows won just one race in 2022. However, Lewis Hamilton was winless that year. But hoping that the following year would be better, only disappointment awaited the German team. The 2023 season was their first winless year since 2011. On top of that, Hamilton remained winless for back-to-back seasons. It is pretty shocking for Hamilton fans because prior to the 2022 season, the Mercedes star had never gone through a winless season before. That’s the reason why the great Briton managed to win 103 Grands Prix in his long and illustrious career.
But the same champion racer has been winless so long. It is disappointing for the fans mainly because the Mercedes star turned 39 this month. Albeit, he has two more years to go in his contract with Mercedes after extending it last year. But fans wonder if Lewis Hamilton can win his eighth championship title after turning 40. Moreover, who would replace Hamilton after he leaves Mercedes or just retires? But it seems Toto Wolff has a plan ready for what the future looks like when Hamilton hangs his helmet and racing boots.
Who’ll Replace Lewis Hamilton In The Mercedes Team?
Recently, in an interview as per Mirror, Toto Wolff hinted that the 17-year-old Andrea Kimi Antonelli might replace Lewis Hamilton when the time comes. But at present, the 39-year-old champion is still going strong and just waiting for the right car to fight for the title. However, the starlet of Italian racing is the crown jewel of the Mercedes driver academy and has a pretty good reputation in the junior categories. In karting and F4 level, Kimi has performed brilliantly. As a result, he also got fast-tracked through the system. Kimi would race in Formula 2 this year and skip F3 altogether.
With the Prema team, Kimi would get to race in a pretty quick car alongside the Ferrari top prospect Oliver Bearman. Toto Wolff said Kimi was a great kid ever since he came under their wings in 2012. The Mercedes boss recalls that he showed a lot of character, he was strong and confident. Adding to that, Wolff said he had an “Immense” record in go-karting. Then, in his rookie year, he won every single season in the junior formulas. But Toto Wolff also said it is important to be careful, dealing with all the hypes around him.
How Can F2 Help Kimi In His Development As A Driver?
Moreover, Toto Wolff mentioned it is a big step in bringing Andrea Kimi Antonelli to Formula 2, where the cars are heavier and more powerful. But the Mercedes boss also knows that it is essential to give the 17-year-old some time to adjust. He is way too young now. Hence, the Mercedes team principal said it is better not to expect that he would be killing it in his first season.
If Kimi gets the right and adequate time, he can become a really great F1 racer one day, feels Toto Wolff. Lewis Hamilton had a stunning rookie season in F1 back in 2007. Then, he went on to be the seven-time champion and the legend as the fans know him today.
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