Windsor foresees a driver change during the season: ‘Mercedes will still pay the bill’

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Windsor foresees a driver change during the season: 'Mercedes will still pay the bill'

Peter Windsor expects that there will be further driver changes in Formula 1 during the 2024 season. The analyst, who celebrates his 72nd birthday today, is eagerly looking forward to the arrival of Liam Lawson, who is in the waiting room at Visa Cash App RB, and sees good opportunities for the now only 17-year-old Andrea Kimi Antonelli.

After Max Verstappen’s debut in 2015, the rules were changed: a driver must now be at least eighteen years old before he can drive in Formula 1, and must also collect sufficient super license points. Antonelli has already achieved the latter, so now we have to wait until his eighteenth birthday and a Formula 1 team boss who offers him a contract.

Is Mercedes fully committed to Antonelli?

Windsor believes the prize could come soon after Antonelli’s birthday. The Italian celebrates his eighteenth birthday on the day of the Dutch Grand Prix, after which his home race in Italy is the next. “I think he can make his debut this season,” Windsor predicts in his livestream on YouTube. ‘That circuit is also ideal to try it out. The circuit is not that demanding. Mercedes is also Williams’ engine supplier, so they do have influence there.’

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff previously indicated that he will not make a choice about Lewis Hamilton’s replacement for the time being. That could be in connection with Verstappen, but also because of Antonelli. ‘Logan Sargeant won’t feel too good about Williams either after what happened in Australia, and I assume Mercedes would foot the bill in full anyway. So I don’t think this is that unlikely,” continues Windsor, who thinks that Williams can form a springboard for Mercedes. ‘They can use him next season, if they think he is really that good.’

Antonelli will have to prove himself in the coming months. ‘It will be especially interesting to see if he is really that good, and to see how he does in the coming Formula 2 races. He is now doing quite well against Oliver Bearman, his teammate at Bearman,” Windsor says about the Briton, who replaced the sick Carlos Sainz in Saudi Arabia. ‘He looks quite strong, although Bearman couldn’t do much with his engine problem in Australia. So we can’t take that weekend with us, but Antonelli has matched Bearman, and that’s good.’

In the footsteps of greats?

The hype surrounding Antonelli is enormous, but Windsor thinks we should first look at the upcoming Formula 2 races. ‘If he is the next Lewis Hamilton, Ayrton Senna or Max Verstappen, then we should see that in the next five or six Formula 2 races. Lewis, Ayrton, or Max – although Max didn’t drive in Formula 2 – would have immediately been at the front and won races, so we’ll see how he does in the coming races. I don’t think Mercedes draws many conclusions from the coming races, because I think they are already sold by his talent.’

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