Formula 1 Racing

Antonelli taken out by “numpty” after showing potential with first F2 win

Andrea Kimi Antonelli

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff defended junior driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli over the collision which eliminated him from the first race after his breakthrough win in Formula 2.

Antonelli is under consideration for a promotion to Formula 1 with the team next year as it seeks a replacement for Lewis Hamilton. The 17-year-old watched Hamilton end his two-and-a-half year victory drought from the Mercedes garage on Sunday.

“I had this moment where you see the greatest British driver checking out with us at the British Grand Prix, and in the garage you had this young Italian who hasn’t got a driving licence that was watching that scene, and I bet he thought ‘I want to be that one day’,” Wolff told media including RaceFans.

He heaped praise on Antonelli’s victory in Saturday’s sprint race which was run in heavily wet conditions and red-flagged at one stage due to the amount of water on the circuit. Antonelli took the chequered flag in the partial-reverse-grid race 8.6 seconds ahead of Zane Maloney.

“Seeing him on Saturday walking over the water, at times two seconds quicker than everybody, you can see the talent and the ability and the potential this young guy has,” said Wolff. “Winning that race I think took a lot of weight off his shoulders.”

However Antonelli was taken out on the first lap of the feature race by Kush Maini, whom he passed after starting two places behind the Invicta driver in the middle of the grid.

“Today it was DNF but it wasn’t his fault,” said Wolff. “Susie [Wolff] always says ‘you qualify with numpties, you race with numpties’.”

The stewards held Maini responsible for the collision, noting he blamed a brake problem and apologised to Antonelli. “The stewards determined that car nine [Maini] was wholly to blame for the collision with car four [Antonelli] and therefore imposed a 10-second time penalty plus two penalty points,” they ruled. These were Maini’s first penalty points of the season.

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