Mercedes Temukan Talenta Besar Calon Pengganti Lewis Hamilton

I Gede Ardy Estrada

Editor: I Gede Ardy Estrada

Andrea Kimi Antonelli
Pembalap muda Andrea Kimi Antonelli telah disiapkan Mercedes untuk menjadi penerus Lewis Hamilton di F1. (Rahmat Ari Hidayat/Skor.id)

SKOR.id – Meski Lewis Hamilton terus menantang usia dengan skill balapnya yang masih mumpuni, fakta bahwa Mercedes perlu segera mencari sosok pengganti tak terelakkan. Ini pun diakui Toto Wolff.

Tim berjuluk Silver Arrows telah memperpanjang kontrak Hamilton hingga 2025. Pun demikian, bukanlah pekerjaan mudah untuk menemukan penerus yang layak bagi tujuh kali juara dunia Formula 1 tersebut.

Salah satu sosok suksesor yang muncul dari akademi balap Mercedes dan berhasil menarik perhatian Wolff adalah pemuda 17 tahun asal Italia, Andrea Kimi Antonelli.

Setelah meroket berkat performa impresif dalam karting dan F4, lompatan Antonelli ke Formula 2 2024 tanpa melalui F3 menguatkan sinyal bahwa ia memang disiapkan sebagai bintang masa depan Mercedes.

Terlepas dari pembatasan ekspektasi, Toto Wolff mengakui jika Mercedes memiliki talenta spesial yang tengah berkembang dalam diri Antonelli.

“Kami sudah melatih Kimi (Antonelli) sejak 2012 dan dia adalah anak yang hebat saat itu. Anda bisa lihat karakternya (dan) dia kuat,” ujar sang Prinsipal Tim seperti dikutip dari GP Fans.

“Kami punya dia di garasi dan ada kepercayaan diri tinggi. Dalam gokart rekam jejaknya sangat besar, dan lalu Anda memasukkannya ke formula junior dan dia memenangi setiap musim pada  tahun rookie-nya.”

Kendati tahu Andrea Kimi Antonelli memiliki talenta luar biasa di balik kemudi, Wolff tak ingin buru-buru menceburkannya ke F1. Ia mau sang pembalap muda lebih dulu menambah jam terbang di level feeder.

“Tetapi kami harus berhati-hati karena ada banyak hype di sekelilingnya. Memasukkannya ke F2 adalah sebuah langkah besar, sebab mobil-mobil itu lebih berat dan jauh lebih bertenaga,” tutur Wolff.

“Jika kami memberinya waktu dan tidak berharap dia langsung mendominasi di musim pertamanya, saya pikir dia bisa menjadi salah satu yang hebat dalam olahraga ini. Dia baru 17 tahun, masih sangat muda.”

Setelah sukses menjadi juara Formula Regional Middle East Championship dan juga Formula Regional European Championship pada 2023, Antonelli akan menjalani debutnya di F2 tahun ini bersama Tim Prema Racing.

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