Italy’s Andrea Kimi Antonelli will graduate into F2 in 2024 with PREMA.
Antonelli followed up his Italian F4 and ADAC F4 titles in 2022 by dominating this season’s Formula Regional European Championship with PREMA, after he had won the Middle East category earlier this year in similar fashion.
PREMA consequently have decided to promote Antonelli straight into F2 and bypass F3 in a bold move, considering that the Italian team until now had always promoted their highest-placed F3 driver of the previous season into F2 since the latter category began in 2019.
Speaking about his chance to make the high-risk leap and likely partner Oliver Bearman who is set to stay with PREMA for a second season in F2, Antonelli commented: “I’m very happy for this opportunity. From Formula Regional to Formula 2, it will be a huge jump.”
Antonelli however admitted that he isn’t expecting an easy ride as he continued: “I’m aware that it will be very challenging because the level is really high there. It will be a new car, for me and the others as well, but it’s still going to be tough.”
The 17 year-old Mercedes junior has refused to set any targets for next season as he explained: “I don’t want to set expectations, I will try to learn as much as possible in testing to be ready for the first race, have fun as always, and do a good job.”
PREMA Team Principal, Rene Rosin added: “We are proud to welcome Kimi to our FIA Formula 2 team.
He has been with us since the very beginning so not only do we know him well, but we are also particularly proud of what he was able to achieve in his first two years full-time in single-seaters.
“Kimi is a gifted racer and a great team player, so we cannot wait to see what the 2024 season will bring and we are focused on helping him to make the step in the smoothest possible way.”
Although Antonelli has proven himself to be a future top driver across two F4 categories plus Formula Regional Championships in Middle East and Europe, F2 is a huge step up for a 17 year-old highly regarded by Mercedes.
Come the season-opener in Bahrain on the first weekend of March, anticipation will surely be rife in regards to how Antonelli performs because this move not only goes against PREMA’s promotion approach but Mercedes’ too.
From PREMA’s perspective, this move sees their run of promoting one of their F3 drivers into their F2 team for the last four seasons end, in-turn denying British fans a prospect of watching Bearman and Zak O’Sullivan battle together at PREMA in F2 next season for the title.
Across at Mercedes, Antonelli’s promotion has implications for Paul Aron who had followed a similar path to Antonelli but did F3 this sason where he finished third overall, meaning that questions will now be asked of the Estonian’s placing in their junior system with Antonelli bypassing F3.
Either way, PREMA have taken a bold risk to abandon their recent driver promotion approach yet it will surely rank as one of the early headline questions of F2 next season.