Formula 1 rule change could help decide Lewis Hamilton's replacement

After an FIA rule update, has Kimi Antonelli's path to Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton's replacement for the 2025 Formula 1 season been accelerated?
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 / Rudy Carezzevoli/GettyImages

Formula 1 is set to see a number of changes in both 2025 and 2026. Whether it comes to drivers racing for new teams or new rule changes, there is going to be a lot for Formula 1 fans to get used to over the next few seasons.

When the 2025 season rolls around, there are going to be number of changes when it comes to driver partnerships at almost every team on the grid, setting up a very interesting season in both the driver and constructor championships.

In 2026, Formula 1 is set to see a complete overhaul in the regulations, with an all-new style of car on the track that many are excited about.

However, before 2026's slew of rule changes, a new rule change has already been announced that could have a major impact on the 2025 grid as Mercedes look at all their options to fill Lewis Hamilton's seat alongside George Russell.

New FIA Super License change

The FIA have made the decision to make a change to the rules regarding the age requirement for obtaining a Super License, lowering it from 18 years old to 17 years old. The age had been set at 18 following Max Verstappen's promotion to Toro Rosso at 17, which led the FIA to standardize the requirements to compete in Formula 1.

This amendment to the rules paves the way for Mercedes to bring in highly rated young driver Kimi Antonelli to fill in the soon to be open seat left after Lewis Hamilton's departure for Ferrari in 2025.

While Antonelli is set to turn 18 in August anyway, this rule change effectively opens the door for a potential FP1 outing for the Italian driver, or perhaps even an early move to Williams as Logan Sargeant's mid-season replacement, thus giving the Silver Arrows an even better chance to assess his skillset.

But even with all of the excitement surrounding Antonelli, this rule change has been met with criticism from fans over the exception they feel is being made for the 17-year-old.

Fans were quick to point out the difference in approach when it comes to Antonelli receiving a Super License versus the approach taken with IndyCar driver Colton Herta two years ago, when he was denied the opportunity to obtain his to compete in Formula 1.

The frustration can be somewhat understood, given the fact that Herta is a seven-time race winner in IndyCar and former third place points finisher, while Antonelli has had a somewhat rocky season in Formula 2, having yet to even stand on the podium in his maiden season.

Will Mercedes go down this route of bringing in Antonelli and having him replace the seven-time world champion straight away, or will the youngster still get a season or two at Williams to develop?

dark. Next. Formula 1: 5 drivers who could join Nico Hulkenberg at Audi. Formula 1: 5 drivers who could join Nico Hulkenberg at Audi

What can be expected either way is that Antonelli will have major pressure and expectations on him from fans who believe that the somewhat inexperienced driver is getting preferential treatment over other drivers who were looking to join Formula 1 but denied the opportunity.