Antonelli: Street Track Adaptation on Top of FRECA-to-F2 Jump ‘Really Challenging’

Antonelli: Street Track Adaptation on Top of FRECA-to-F2 Jump ‘Really Challenging’

Antonelli Mercedes

Andrea Kimi Antonelli spoke with InsideF2 about his adaptation to street and semi-permanent circuits after a star turn in FIA Formula 2 Championship qualifying in Melbourne’s Albert Park Circuit that saw him qualify second.

The Prema Racing rookie is entering his third race weekend in the championship after stepping up from Formula Regional European Championship, which he won as a rookie in 2023.

In two of those race weekends, Antonelli has been the highest-placed of the series’ 10 rookies in qualifying. While he only qualified 17th in Bahrain in a season opener that was challenging for Prema, he bounced back in Jeddah to qualify sixth.

This became fifth on the grid when teammate Ollie Bearman was called up to drive for Scuderia Ferrari in Formula 1 in place of Carlos Sainz, who had to undergo emergency surgery for appendicitis.

Despite not having the reference of his more experienced teammate for the remainder of the weekend, Antonelli deftly managed his first-ever races on street tracks – which he said were ‘quite special’ – to take two sixth-place finishes.

The Mercedes junior has now reached the front at just the third time of asking, finishing the Melbourne qualifying session 0.344 seconds behind first-time pole sitter Dennis Hauger.

Antonelli said in the post-session press conference that he was ‘quite happy’ with his Jeddah weekend but that his satisfaction with his performances was ‘mainly here in Melbourne’.

InsideF2 asked Antonelli about how he has adapted to the distinct challenges of street circuits, which include limited run-off and an uneven track surface. While the Albert Park track is not a traditional street circuit given its extensive run-off areas, it comprises public roads that host car traffic during the year.

“It’s quite challenging because even in Melbourne, in some corners, you have little margin of error of mistakes. You have to be really precise, and it’s really easy to lose a lot of time,” he said.

“Even with the jump I made from FRECA to F2, driving for the first time on a city track was really challenging, for sure. Especially with the little track time you get to really find the limit, it’s not easy. Especially in a city track, it’s a bit more difficult because as I said before, you don’t have a lot of margin of mistake, so it’s really important to get the best out of it every lap.”

Antonelli starts tomorrow’s Sprint Race ninth. The race begins at 14:15 local time (AEDT), or 5:15 GMT.

Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

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