Jul.7 (GMM) Andrea ‘Kimi’ Antonelli is firmly back in the running to make his Formula 1 debut, as he secured a breakthrough F2 win at Silverstone.

Just 24 hours earlier, the 17-year-old’s mentor Toto Wolff was hinting that Carlos Sainz might be a better option to replace Lewis Hamilton next year.

A major concern is that all the speculation about his likely leap into Hamilton’s cockpit for 2025 had contributed to Antonelli’s lacklustre F2 campaign so far.

“He has a lot of pressure,” Mercedes boss Wolff said. “He’s being talked a lot about. And it’s clear that the pressure ramps up.

“You know, it’s like Bernie (Ecclestone) said: ‘Last week I had an opinion, this week I have a different one’.”

But the boy-faced Italian then shone in difficult conditions during the British GP support race, securing his first Formula 2 win. “It was an important win,” Wolff said, “because he’s had a lot of bad luck with the car and made small mistakes.

“Those days were important for today’s dominant win,” he told Sky Italia. “I’m sure he’ll make the step up to Formula 1 and have a great career.

“I would say this was a turning point for him. He was a second faster than the others and always in control. Kimi made a big step today and I’m sure he’ll do great things in F1.”

Antonelli admitted he felt “emotional” as he crossed the line and felt “a big weight taken off my shoulders”.

“It’s a very important moment,” he added. “It hasn’t been a good season so far and on a mental level this success gives me a lot of energy.”

There have even been rumblings at Silverstone that a perfect F1 prelude for Antonelli could be replacing the struggling Logan Sargeant at Mercedes-powered Williams – and perhaps even before the 2024 season is concluded.

But Williams boss James Vowles insists: “Kimi is not a possibility for Williams at the moment because he is a Mercedes driver. So that’s a no.”