FIA opens door for Kimi Antonelli’s promotion to F1 before 18th birthday

Kimi Antonelli could now be promoted to Formula One before his 18th birthday in August after the FIA changed the rulebook for 17-year-olds to be granted a super licence.

After Max Verstappen made his F1 debut at 17 in 2015, F1’s governing body changed the regulations to state that drivers must be at least 18 years old to compete in the series.

However, the FIA added a stipulation to the International Sporting Code on Tuesday which opens the door for Antonelli potentially replacing Logan Sargeant at Williams before his 18th birthday on 25 August.

The addition reads: “At the sole discretion of the FIA, a driver judged to have recently and consistently demonstrated outstanding ability and maturity in single-seater formula car competition may be granted a super licence at the age of 17 years old.”

The FIA received a request at the start of May to grant Mercedes junior driver Antonelli, currently competing in his rookie F2 season, a super licence under special dispensation.

Though the team who made the request is unconfirmed, it is believed to have come from Williams.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is keen on replacing Lewis Hamilton with Antonelli next year and half-a-season or so at Williams this year, with Wolff’s former right-hand man James Vowles in charge, would give the highly-rated Italian valuable experience ahead of 2025.

Wolff has essentially admitted that he has chosen Antonelli over Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz to partner George Russell next year.

Speaking at the Canadian Grand Prix, Wolff said: “Carlos deserves a top seat. He’s done a fantastic job but for us we’ve embarked on a route now to say… we want to reinvent ourselves a little bit going forward and Kimi Antonelli definitely plays a part in that.

“We haven’t taken a decision yet for next year but we didn’t want to have Carlos wait as well because he needs to take the decisions for himself. That’s just fair. He’s doing a super job."

Kimi Antonelli can now race in Formula 1 before his 18th birthday (Getty Images)
Kimi Antonelli can now race in Formula 1 before his 18th birthday (Getty Images)

Antonelli, 17, is on Mercedes’ books and was signed on to their junior programme at 11 years of age. In the years since, he has won numerous karting and single-seater competitions, which has thrust him into the spotlight at such a young age.

Antonelli rose up the ranks quickly, winning the European Karting Championship in both 2020 and 2021, and making his debut in the Italian F4 championship at the age of 15 in 2021.

A year later, he was victorious in the Italian F4 championship, securing 13 wins from 20 races, and in the same year won the ADAC Formula 4 title.

His stock was rising and, when in 2023 he won both the Formula Regional Championships in Europe and the Middle East, Mercedes in partnership with Prema decided that the highly-rated youngster should skip F3 in 2024.

Antonelli is currently sixth in the F2 standings after five race weekends, 32 points behind leader Paul Aron but 30 points ahead of team-mate and Ferrari reserve Ollie Bearman.