Mercedes performance leaves Wolff in doubt over 2025 driver line-up

Lewis Hamilton’s decision to join Ferrari next year means that Mercedes are on the lookout for a new team mate for George Russell.

And there are two different paths the team can take: go after the most experienced driver they can to help them push their way to the top, or throw in rising junior star Kimi Antonelli.

In terms of experience, the German manufacturer has already been linked with the likes of Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel, but is well aware that their hopes of convincing him to come will depend on raising performance levels.

And while the Austrian’s attitude might lean more towards choosing Antonelli because it would give the young driver some time to sleep without the pressure to bring wins from the start, Wolff is still thinking about the right move.

“I think you can look at it from different perspectives,” said the Mercedes boss when asked about the driver’s decision.

“I believe that we are in the phase of reconstruction. You have to recognize that now, three years after these regulations were passed, we have to do things differently than we did in the past, without discarding what we believe is good about the way we operate.”

“That could mean putting a young driver in there and giving him a chance with less pressure than having him fight for wins straight away, or putting a more experienced driver in a car that can help us dig into the current performance picture.”

With Antonelli already part of the team, Mercedes need not rush to decide what to do with him – so they can sit back and see how the future of other options, such as Verstappen, unfolds.

Interestingly, Mercedes has increased the number of days it wants Antonelli to do private tests this year to better familiarize himself with the F1 cars.

The Tslijan driver should do his first test drive at the Red Bull Ring in W12 before the Chinese Grand Prix.

Speaking about the plans for Antonelli, Wolff added: “The Kimi Formula 1 driving program has been in place for a long time and has not changed significantly in the last few weeks.”

“What we did added more days, but what you will see in the next few months was in place, regardless of whether he is sitting in a Formula 1 car next year.”

“We will work for a few days to get him comfortable in the F1 car. He drives the car for the first time in 2021 in Austria. We want to give him the feeling he used to feel in a really good car.”

“Obviously he’s been our youngster for a long time and we can’t wait to see what he can do in a Formula 1 car. [Ferrari reserve] Ollie Bearman was refreshing to see how competitive he was in Saudi Arabia.”

“No free practice, high speed, complicated track, and he was there. So Kimi would do well.”