Announced by Prema Powerteam on Monday, Mercedes junior Andrea Kimi Antonelli will be joining the team for his car racing debut in the final three rounds of the Italian F4 Championship. So, who is Andrea Kimi Antonelli?
By Vicki Merrick
Born in Bologna, Italy, Antonelli started competing in karting races at the age of nine and was soon achieving wins and titles. In 2015, he was crowned champion of the Easykart International Grand Final Easy 60 class and took third place in the Trofeo Industrie 60 Mini category in the following season. He progressed to WSK Super Master Series 60 Mini in 2017, and again placed third.
The following year proved to be a big season for Antonelli, winning the WSK Champions Cup 60 Mini category, driving for Energy Corse. Within that year he competed in various other karting competitions, finishing second in the Italian Championship in the 60 Mini class, fifth in the WSK Final Cup and winning the 23° South Garda Winter Cup in the Mini ROK class.
In April 2019, at the age of 12, He was announced as a member of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport junior team. Gwen Lagrue, Driver Development Advisor for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, said about the youngster: “We were really impressed with him – he’s very mature for his young age, is very patient and extremely clever. He’s fast, whatever the conditions are, and I’ve never seen him make a silly mistake.
“The love and passion for motorsport are obvious and he enjoys his racing, as I’ve never seen before. The way he is racing, overtaking, and building his race weekend is very special and we are really looking forward to seeing him move into single-seaters.”
Along with joining the Mercedes Academy, in 2019 Antonelli stepped up to the OKJ class, racing for Rosberg Racing Academy and won the WSK Euro Series in that same class. 2019 was a standout year, taking victory in the WSK Super Master Series, the 24° South Garda Winter Cup and claiming second in the FIA Karting European Championship (OKJ).
In 2020 Antonelli tackled several karting categories in the OK class, including the WSK Super Master Series and WSK Champions Cup. That year he won one of the biggest karting championships around: the CIK-FIA European championship in the OK class.
But his progress was temporarily hampered when the young Italian broke his leg and a foot in the final of the World Karting Championship. At the beginning of this year though Antonelli was crowned the FIA Karting Rookie of the Year by the FIA, succeeding FRECA star Gabriele Mini.
This season the Mercedes junior is again competing in the European Karting Championship, but a debut in Formula 4 was always inevitable, only being stopped by his age. It’s no coincidence that the Prema announcement comes shortly after his 15th birthday this month; the minimum age for competing in Italian F4.
But that doesn’t mean he will step into a Formula 4 car for the first time. Antonelli has already had the opportunity to test the cars of the AKM team, owned by his father Marco Antonelli.
The 15-year-old is extremely happy with his move: “I am really happy to announce that I will join Prema in these last three races of the Italian F4 Championship. This is an exiting new challenge for me and I can’t wait to start. A big thanks to Prema and Mercedes for giving me this amazing opportunity.”
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