The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team has announced its junior programme line-up for 2022, ahead of the Mercedes-AMG F1 W13 launch. Created in 2016, the academy has produced talents such as Pascal Wehrlein, Esteban Ocon and the latest Mercedes F1 works driver, George Russell.
Russell’s promotion as a full-time Mercedes F1 driver marks the first graduate to take a seat in the senior team, and the 2022 line-up features seven talented young drivers with two new additions. The current class includes Andrea Kimi Antonelli, Paul Aron, Alex Powell, Frederik Vesti and Yuanpu Cui with the latest signings being Daniel Guinchard and Luna Fluxa Cross.
“It’s going to be a really exciting year for our junior drivers, and we’re delighted to welcome them to our W13 launch on Friday as part of our motorsport family,” said Team Principal and CEO of Mercedes F1, Toto Wolff.
“There are some familiar faces in the programme from previous years, looking to build on their strong progress, and there are also several new members of the programme who have joined us this year. It will be great to see how they develop in their first season with us.”
Joining the programme in 2018, Antonelli has been part of the Mercedes family for the longest out of all the juniors. He will take part in both UAE and Italian Formula 4 championships this year after a decorated karting career.
Powell, Cui and Fluxa Cross are all backed by the German team as they continue their development through the karting ladder, with Fluxa Cross being the first female to become part of the programme. At only 11-years-old, she’s sure to be one to look out for in the future.
“It’s definitely a special year with the promotion of George, who was one of our first junior drivers since the young driver programme was reborn in 2016,” Gwen Lagrue, Mercedes Driver Development Advisor, said in a press release. “Lewis is one of the greatest sportspeople of all time and is an inspiration to all racing drivers, so it will be a brilliant opportunity for our juniors to get to know and look up to the seven-time F1 champion.
Other new recruit Guinchard will be competing in the Formula 4 British championship as he make a start on his journey up the single-seater ladder with Aron taking part in the Formula Regional Asia and Formula Regional European championships this year. The most senior member of the programme is Frederik Vesti, who is entering his rookie FIA Formula 2 season with ART Grand Prix. This comes after two strong seasons in FIA Formula 3 where he finished fourth overall both years running with nine podiums and four race wins to his name.