‘Top talent in pole position for a seat at Mercedes, Alonso is considered plan B’

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'Top talent in pole position for a seat at Mercedes, Alonso is considered plan B'

Kimi Antonelli is the top favorite for the seat next to George Russell, reports The Race. The Italian driver will be active in Formula 2 next year and must prove himself as a top talent. Toto Wolff already indicated that Mercedes has the freedom to make a bold decision. If Antonelli appears not to be ready for the switch, Mercedes will look at the experienced Fernando Alonso.

Hamilton’s departure has caused a stir in the world of Formula 1 and has also forced Mercedes to look for a new driver. Many drivers have an expiring contract this year, which means there are several options for the German racing team. For example, Alexander Albon’s name has been mentioned a lot, although James Vowles has confirmed that the Thai driver’s contract does not expire until the end of 2025. Esteban Ocon and Carlos Sainz have also been mentioned, and do have expiring contracts.

Yet Mercedes does not seem to be looking at drivers within Formula 1. The usually reliable The Race indicates that the German racing team is going to make a daring choice. Antonelli is at the top of the list of the eight-time constructors’ champion. The Italian driver is known as a great talent and skips Formula 3 to immediately start working in Formula 2. If he performs well there and gets enough super license points, he can earn the switch to Mercedes.

“There is a feeling within the team that he is the new Verstappen and that, having missed the opportunity to sign 16-year-old Max, Toto Wolff is keen not to repeat the mistake,” writes Mark Hughes. Max Verstappen seemed close to a switch to Mercedes, but in the end the choice fell on Red Bull Racing. The Dutchman was promised a Formula 1 contract with Toro Rosso, while Mercedes could not guarantee a Formula 1 seat.

Alonso is considered plan B

There is of course also the possibility that Antonelli will have a difficult time in Formula 2. The field will be reasonably competitive with drivers such as Frederik Vesti, Victor Martins and Oliver Bearman. If Antonelli is not ready for a switch to Formula 1, Alonso is plan B. The Spaniard has an expiring contract with Aston Martin and does not rule out a switch. The man from Oviedo will then keep the seat warm for a while before Antonelli is ready for the step to the premier class of motorsport.

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