Mercedes announce junior squad for 2023 and add 12-year-old UK karting star
The Mercedes Junior Team is set for the 2023 campaign, with one new recruit joining a stacked line-up of talent.
While over recent years the Red Bull and Ferrari academies have boasted the extensive talent pools, the likes of Mercedes have been busy bolstering their ranks.
And like their aforementioned rivals, the carrot which Mercedes can dangle for their juniors is the opportunity to eventually progress into what should be title-winning machinery in Formula 1.
George Russell has blazed this trail for the Mercedes prospects, as he heads into F1 2023 with ambitions of challenging for the title.
And seven Mercedes youngsters share a similar dream, the eight-time Constructors’ champs having gained the services of 12-year-old British karting star Kenzo Craigie to add further firepower to their pool of prospects.
While Craigie continues on the karting scene with Mercedes backing, he will be joined by compatriot Alex Powell, Chinese youngster Yuanpu Cui and Spanish prospect Luna Fluxá.
Further up the junior ladder, 16-year-old Andrea Kimi Antonelli will look to continue his relentless success under the Mercedes banner as he moves to the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine.
The Italian has already won a title in 2023, having clinched the Formula Regional Middle East Championship crown.
Meanwhile, after back-to-back P3 finishes in the Championship where Antonelli is heading, Mercedes’ Estonian prospect Paul Aron will graduate to Formula 3 for 2023, where he links up with the Prema team.
Mercedes’ most seasoned junior Frederik Vesti meanwhile will continue in Formula 2 for another season, the Dane tasked with mounting a challenge for the title.
“We’re looking forward to seeing how our junior drivers progress this season,” said team principal Toto Wolff. “We saw some impressive performances in 2022, and we will continue to support them as they develop.
“An encouraging recent example of their progress is Kimi’s Formula Regional Middle East title. All our junior drivers are at very different, but very exciting stages of their young careers and I’m sure it’s going to be another positive year for the programme.”
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Mercedes driver development advisor Gwen Lagrue added: “For 2023, our Junior Programme has drivers racing in almost every step of the feeder series ladder. We’re optimistic it’s going to be another strong season and year of positive progress.
“After an initial taste of F1 in Abu Dhabi last year at the rookie test, we expect Frederik Vesti to be fighting for wins and be in contention for the FIA F2 title.
“Following a successful campaign in the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine (FRECA), Paul Aron moves up to FIA F3 and we believe he’s ready to be a front-runner in his first season.
“Andrea Kimi Antonelli will graduate to FRECA after an outstanding double title winning F4 campaign and a strong start to 2023, winning the Formula Regional Middle East championship.
“Alex Powell is leading our group of drivers on the international karting scene alongside Yuanpu Cui and Luna Fluxá; they all have the experience to deliver strong seasons. We are also pleased to welcome the talented Kenzo Craigie to our programme in 2023, becoming our youngest junior as he tackles the British karting championships.”
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