Mercedes protégé Andrea Kimi Antonelli will reportedly kick off his F1 driver development programme with the Brackley squad in Austria later this month.

According to Motorsport.com, the Prema F2 charger will enjoy his maiden F1 test at the Red Bull Ring on April 16 as part of a two-day acclimatization test conducted at the wheel of a 2021-spec silver arrow W12.

Antonelli is set for several test outings with Mercedes this year in a bid to accelerate his development and assess his readiness for F1.

The German outfit has yet to decide who will fill Lewis Hamilton’s coveted seat for 2025 and perhaps beyond following the seven-time world champion’s decision to move to Ferrari next season.

Several drivers have been linked to the plum drive including Antonelli, Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon and even Max Verstappen himself as a result of the recent turmoil at Red Bull Racing.

Antonelli’s performance this year – both in F2 and in F1 testing – will be crucial in determining if he’s ready to make the jump, either with Mercedes or perhaps with one of the manufacturer’s customer teams.

There’s also the possibility of the 17-year-old staying in F2 for a second season, especially since he skipped Formula 3 entirely after a dominant campaign in the 2023 Formula Regional European Championship.

Later this month in Austria, Andrea Kimi Antonelli will enjoy his maiden F1 test, at the wheel of a 2021-spec Mercedes W12.

While Mercedes has made clear that it is committed to grooming Antonelli for F1, team boss Toto Wolff has said that the team will take its time to designate Hamilton’s successor alongside George Russell.

“We got that curveball thrown at us, with Lewis, in the beginning of February,” he noted. “I want to do the opposite when choosing the driver for next year.

“There are many very good drivers in F1 available for next year,” he pointed out. “This is all going to come into the equation when deciding on the driver line-up for next year, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon.”

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