HIGHLIGHTS 2021 - Andrea Kimi Antonelli: a star is born

Columns: Close Up
Antonelli, two-time European OK champion and poleman on his debut in the KZ World Championship, bids farewell to karting on his way to a future in formula.

The karting career of Andrea Kimi Antonelli, in the eyes of experts, of those who live and breathe in the paddock and primarily feed on motorsport, already foretells of a classic anthology of a Champion. A perhaps too strong definition, one without certainty as to the future (we are certainly not seers), but one certainly based on solid foundations that leave no room to the imagination.
The era of karting that we have been experiencing for some years now is closely and inextricably linked to Formula 1, not only for the interests, the money and the Driver Academies that go scouting the various top teams but, above all, for the now exasperated level of competition. So, here are some (yes, as they still exist) beautiful stories of passion and engines that emerge and make their way into the future of motorsport, new chapters, or the laying down of the first solid bricks on which to build something grand.

Andrea Kimi Antonelli had the strength to emerge and rise slowly and gradually, category after category, but at the same time grabbing the spotlights and making a sensation for that inclusion in the Mercedes programs at a very young age. The same team capable of dominating the last eight F1 World Championships and leaving the others only the crumbs, thanks to the team’s management and future vision. A much-deserved entry into the field by Andrea Kimi with the icing on the cake of 2021 –and even the cherry on top - which leads us to the initial question: are we seeing the birth of a true star?
If in 2020 Antonelli was able to win the OK European Championship with indisputable shows of strength, in the year that has now ended he has been able to do even better. In fact, we must not forget that at the beginning of this 2021, Antonelli came from the bad injury in Portimao during the OK World Championship after the frightening accident on the first lap, resulting in broken legs. A long process of recovery that saw the Bologna-driver gradually get closer to the tracks, first retiring after a few heats in the first races and then returning to victory by measure. A season lived to the fullest with the second title of OK European Champion won, almost, in ease or, rather, maturity thanks to the experience he had gained. In almost all the stages, in fact, Antonelli had to fight from behind, make some extraordinary comebacks and overtakes to ensure victory, all performed in the same way, that is, without taking risks and almost letting the opponent in question "vent" to then strike and return in front and make his way to success. Those who live the track all year round know that such comebacks are not always possible, especially after the long diatribe of tire degradation and especially in a sport such as karting where you are either in or out or off.

After collecting yet another title, Antonelli has left yet another milestone in his karting career that is so close in terms of comparison to Max Verstappen’s, now the new F1 World Champion. Before closing the year definitively, Antonelli wanted to try his hand at the premier class, and he immediately made things difficult by choosing to make his debut in KZ and not in KZ2, thus going to challenge the world’s best in the context of the last valid race for the European Championship (Adria) and at the World Championship (Kristianstad). Those who predicted a massacre, or merely a poor show, in terms of performance had to immediately change their minds and, instead, applaud two consecutive pole positions won in front of the category’s aces. Something astounding for anyone and everyone, especially considering Antonelli's almost total inexperience up to that moment. Failing to win in the race certainly did not cancel what he had done in the two weekends in KZ, especially as close onlookers also analyzed the heats the disputed with few errors and much consistency.

The last two “pearls” before definitively saying goodbye to karting with the signing of Team Prema for the Formula 4 2022 Championship. A single-seater debut that was expected and obtained, one that had actually already taken place in the last three races of the Italian F4 season with the three shows at Spielberg (Red Bull Ring), Mugello, and Monza, three other key moments that let us foresee what the future of the Italian might be, taking as an example the hat-trick in the rookie standings at Monza, just as the now ex-colleagues competed for the OK World Championship in Campillos (Spain).

What probably unites Andre Kimi Antonelli to those beautiful motorsport stories mentioned in the previous paragraphs is the ability, above all, to have remained himself from 60 Mini to KZ, despite rumors, chatter, logos sewn on his chest, the obligation to win. In the paddock, the Italian driver has never changed his attitude, dedicating himself entirely to motorsport pure and simple, focusing on the competition without leaving too much time and space for the rest. Qualities that have been supported by the wise choice that is less and less followed, that is, to complete a valid path in all categories of karting, a vitally important step to get to single-seaters in the best possible way. Max Verstappen's glittering, moved, eyes at the FIA Gran Galà, now with the F1 title in his pocket, at the sight of the three karts on stage, speaks volumes about the value of this category which, once again, may just have written the first chapter of the new course of a sports history to remember for a long time to come.

 

Created by: scorradengo - 27/12/21

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