F1 rule change opens door to Andrea Kimi Antonelli debut this season

This week the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the world’s motorsport governing body, published an update to the International Sporting Code. The update to Appendix L involves international drivers’ licenses as well as Super Licenses.

And the updated regulation might just open the door to a young driver seeing the Formula 1 grid before his 18th birthday.

Ever since Lewis Hamilton announced his shocking move to Ferrari, to be executed at the end of the 2024 season, Andrea Kimi Antonelli’s name has been linked with a seat on the F1 grid, perhaps even to replace Hamilton at Mercedes. Antonelli, who is a member of the Mercedes driver program, is in his first F2 season, having skipped F3 altogether.

He is also just 17 years old.

Ahead of the Miami Grand Prix reports surfaced that a team requested a dispensation for a driver to receive a Super License — required before participating in F1 — for a driver who had not reached the age of 18. Current F1 regulations require a driver to be 18 years old to receive the requisite Super License. This was put into place after Max Verstappen made his F1 debut just days after his 17th birthday.

However, the FIA’s updated International Sporting Code now contains Article 13.1.32, which reads as follows:

“The driver must be at least 18 years old at the start of the event of his first F1 competition. At the sole discretion of the FIA, a driver judged to have recently and consistently demonstrated outstanding ability and maturity in single-seater formula car competition may be granted a Super Licence at the age of 17 years old.”

Antonelli does not turn 18 until August.

In addition, the previous Article 13.1.2 has been deleted. That Article read that “[t]he driver must be the holder of a valid driving licence when he applies for a Super Licence for the first time.”

Antonelli is Italian, and the legal age for a driving license in Italy is 18.

With this rule change, the door is open for Antonelli to receive a dispensation from the FIA and be granted a Super License before his 18th birthday in August. The only other requirement is that the young driver acquire the necessary 40 points required for a Super License.

Antonelli has already surpassed that threshold, having won the Italian F4 Championship (12 points), the ADAC Formula 4 Championship (12 points), the Formula Regional Middle East Championship (18 points), and the Formule Regional European Championship (25 points). Those 67 points clear the 40-point threshold. Supplement 1 to Appendix L outlines how points are granted for success in various competitions.

Now, just because the rule has been changed does not mean that Antonelli will see the grid this year. When the issue of a dispensation was first raised ahead of the Miami Grand Prix, along with speculation that Williams would replace Logan Sargeant with Antonelli, Team Principal James Vowles brushed those rumors aside.

But now at least, that door is officially open.

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