Andrea Kimi Antonelli admits to feeling the pressure since being tipped as the driver to replace Ferrari-bound Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes before his breakthrough maiden Formula 2 win in the Silverstone sprint race.

After winning the Formula Regional European title, the 17-year-old skipped Formula 3 in favour of competing in the more senior category, but the spotlight grew infinitely when Hamilton announced his shock Ferrari move for 2025.

Further pressure came when Wolff said he had not offered Hamilton a multi-year deal, after being burnt by the previous loss of Max Verstappen to Red Bull, who had been able to offer the Dutchman an immediate race seat. Not wanting to risk a repeat scenario, Wolff told Austrian broadcaster ORF, “I simply wanted to keep this option [of fielding Antonelli in 2025] open.”

Although Antonelli has shown glimpses of pace this season, he had failed to show the star quality expected of him prior to a dominant Silverstone sprint race performance.

Speaking after topping the podium for the first time in F2, he conceded: “Not always do I cope really well with pressure. Obviously, this season has been a big amount of pressure, to be honest.

“But I can say today that I coped with it pretty well. There are still some improvements because sometimes I still make some mistakes.

Andrea Kimi Antonelli drives Mercedes W12

Andrea Kimi Antonelli drives Mercedes W12

“For example, yesterday in qualifying, I did a mistake on my lap and lost quite a bit of time. So definitely, sometimes I still don’t perform as I could. But I’m trying every time to cope as best as I can with the pressure, and I think today was really the showcase.

“It was a big relief for me because it really takes a lot of weight from my shoulders.”

Without a podium before Silverstone, Wolff said that Antonelli needed to “perform in cold water” and “swim” – an analogy that proved surprisingly apt on Saturday.

Asked about the importance of the result, Antonelli added: “Definitely, it was needed.

“Not the ideal start to the season but we have been improving a lot throughout the season.

“I have to say, on my side, in the last couple of weekends, I haven’t done the greatest of jobs but now I’m really happy to get my first win. It was a difficult race overall, really difficult conditions but at the end, we managed everything really well.”