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Mercedes tell Sainz they're focusing on Antonelli in search for Hamilton replacement

Antonelli looks set to move into F1
Antonelli looks set to move into F1Reuters
Mercedes have ruled out Carlos Sainz (29) for a 2025 Formula 1 drive because they are focusing on young Italian Andrea Kimi Antonelli (17) as Lewis Hamilton's likely replacement.

Spaniard Sainz is handing over his Ferrari seat to seven-time world champion Hamilton at the end of the year and has yet to find another drive, despite his experience as a proven race winner.

Champions Red Bull have confirmed Mexican Sergio Perez as Max Verstappen's teammate, closing that possibility to Sainz, while Mercedes look set to confirm Antonelli as George Russell's teammate.

The 17-year-old Italian is currently racing in Formula 2.

"I think first of all, Carlos deserves a top seat. He’s done a fantastic job," Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff told Sky Sports television.

"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."

Sainz is a top target for Williams and Swiss-based Sauber, with the former pushing hard and the latter last in the standings but set to become the Audi works team in 2026.

"The number one target is Carlos," said Williams boss James Vowles.

"We are prepared to have a driver lineup that I think is going to be one of the best on the grid, if it’s achieved, and that’s a different era that we’re going into.

"We’re investing tens if not hundreds of millions to (take) this team back to where it was in terms of success."

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