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Villeneuve Criticizes Wolff’s ‘Ego-Driven’ Decision in Mercedes’ 2025 Driver Line-Up, Eyes on Antonelli as Hamilton’s Successor

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Jacques Villeneuve Criticizes Toto Wolff for Letting "Ego" Influence Mercedes' 2025 Driver Selection

Jacques Villeneuve has leveled criticism at Toto Wolff, claiming that Wolff's "ego" is playing a significant role in shaping the choice of drivers for Mercedes.

1997 Formula One world champion Jacques Villeneuve is of the opinion that Toto Wolff's personal pride is the driving force behind Mercedes' decision to bring in Andrea Kimi Antonelli as a successor to Lewis Hamilton.

The second spot at Mercedes, next to George Russell, remains available.

Antonelli, a young driver in the Mercedes program, continues to be the leading contender for the seat following Wolff's comments that seemed to dismiss Carlos Sainz as a potential candidate.

Wolff continues to show interest in bringing Max Verstappen over from Red Bull, but it is anticipated that the Dutch racer will remain with his current team until at least 2025.

Antonelli joined the Mercedes academy in 2019 at the age of 12, climbing up the motorsport ladder with notable success.

The Italian is often seen as the successor to Verstappen and is expected to join Formula 1 next season, having spent only two years racing in single-seater categories.

Wolff notably did not secure Verstappen's commitment as Red Bull was able to provide him with a full-time position at Toro Rosso in 2015, an opportunity Mercedes was unable to match due to their absence of a junior team.

Villeneuve believes that Wolff's choice of Antonelli stems from a desire to assert his own ego, suggesting that the Mercedes leader insists on having things his way.

"The Canadian mentioned, “Mercedes doesn't exactly welcome everyone with open arms. It's essentially [Kimi] Antonelli's domain,” indicating that he sees that as the direction forward.

He's been adequately prepared. Toto insists on it. There's certainly pride involved.

"He will demonstrate globally that his beliefs were correct, showing that at the age of 12, Antonelli was aware he was destined to be a champion."

Wolff revealed to Sky Germany over the Canada weekend that their focus is on Antonelli and getting him ready for F1.

He additionally disclosed that he had communicated to Sainz that Mercedes does not see him as part of their future plans.

"Wolff emphasized, "Our focus is on Kimi; he represents our future with the younger drivers."

"We are dedicated to focusing on young drivers, and this is the commitment we've communicated to Carlos."

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