Motor racing-Mercedes tell Sainz they are focusing on Antonelli

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - 30th Anniversary of Ayrton Senna's death - Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy - May 1, 2024 Formula Two driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli on the 30th Anniversary of Ayrton Senna's death REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini/File Photo

MONTREAL (Reuters) - Mercedes have ruled out Carlos Sainz for a 2025 Formula One drive because they are focusing on young Italian Andrea Kimi Antonelli as Lewis Hamilton's likely replacement.

Spaniard Sainz is handing over his Ferrari seat to seven-times world champion Hamilton at the end of the year and has yet to find another drive, despite his experience as a proven race winner.

Champions Red Bull have confirmed Mexican Sergio Perez as Max Verstappen's team mate, closing that possibility to Sainz, while Mercedes look set to confirm Antonelli as George Russell's team mate.

The 17-year-old Italian is currently racing in Formula Two.

"I think first of all, Carlos deserves a top seat. He’s done a fantastic job," Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff told Sky Sports television.

"But for us, we’ve embarked on a route now to say... we want to reinvent ourselves a little bit going forward and Kimi Antonelli definitely plays a part in that.

"We haven’t taken a decision yet for next year but we didn’t want to have Carlos wait as well because he needs to take the decisions for himself. That’s just fair. He’s doing a super job."

Sainz is a top target for Williams and Swiss-based Sauber, with the former pushing hard and the latter last in the standings but set to become the Audi works team in 2026.

"The number one target is Carlos," said Williams boss James Vowles.

"We are prepared to have a driver line-up that I think is going to be one of the best on the grid, if it’s achieved, and that’s a different era that we’re going into.

"We’re investing tens if not hundreds of millions to (take) this team back to where it was in terms of success."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Clare Fallon)

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