Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo, Red Bull Ring, 2019

Giovinazzi says first point shows his progress after “two years without racing”

2019 Austrian Grand Prix

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Antonio Giovinazzi says he is pleased with the progress he has made on his return to Formula 1 after two years of almost no racing.

The Alfa Romeo driver made his F1 debut at the beginning of 2017 when he spent two races as a substitute for Pascal Wehrlein. He spent much of the intervening period working on Ferrari’s simulator.

He achieved a breakthrough at the Red Bull Ring by scoring the first point of his grand prix career. Giovinazzi said that shows the progress he has made.

“My target was to improve race-by-race,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans after the Austrian Grand Prix. “I knew it was not easy because I missed two years without racing so I’m really happy with the progress I’m doing.”

Speaking earlier in the weekend, Giovinazzi said his first race back in F1 had been “really hard for me”, and that his subsequent upswing in performance coincided with a downturn in the team’s form.

“In Baku we went to Q3 but we had a grid penalty. And then after Baku we had not the best track performance of the car: Barcelona, Monaco.

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“Then when I was actually improving myself, I was really close to Kimi [Raikkonen]. In Paul Ricard I think we had a really good upgrade of the car and finally we were stronger again and we had a really good weekend up until Saturday, then Sunday obviously we didn’t get the points.”

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, Red Bull Ring, 2019
Giovinazzi says he’s learning from Raikkonen
Giovinazzi finished last week’s race on his team mate’s tail. He says he and Raikkonen have similar requirements from the car, which is helping the team make progress.

“So far we are able to drive the same car. This is important. Maybe I’m a little bit more aggressive than him, he is a little bit better in the race pace.

“It’s something I need to improve also from my side because the last time I was racing was back in 2016 and after that I just did 24 Hours of Le Mans and two days in the Sauber in the beginning of 2017.”

Having Raikkonen as a team mate “can just help me to improve faster and this is what I’m doing”, said Giovinazzi.

“Of course he’s not [one] who comes to you and tried to help you. But I have the data from him, I have the video from him and if I need to ask him something he always answers me. So the relationship is really good with him and for this we need to keep working like that.”

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3 comments on “Giovinazzi says first point shows his progress after “two years without racing””

  1. I’ve never really understood why teams take on race rusty drivers (except for money). Even doing simulator work surely as a race driver you want to race, even if it’s 2cvs around castle combe.

    1. An Italian with good potential in the Italian Ferrari academy. Worth more than money doesn’t it?

      1. @spoutnik, it certainly makes sense from that point of view, but it does then beg the question of why Ferrari left Giovinazzi sitting around for so long on the sidelines – I think it is that point of view that the original poster was wondering about (i.e. why the team allowed him to become so rusty in the first place).

        I can understand that Giovinazzi was rather important for Ferrari’s simulator duties, as his input in that area has been very useful – there were instances last year where Giovinazzi was credited with helping Ferrari turn around a race weekend, and even helped Vettel win a few races, because Giovinazzi was working on the set up of the cars between practise sessions. In fact, I believe that Ferrari have recalled Giovinazzi between races to work in their simulators between weekends this year as well, as it sounds as if Wehrlein and Hartley haven’t been doing the job for Ferrari.

        That said, at the same time it does beg the question of why Ferrari left him sitting on the sidelines for several years, even though he could potentially have worked his simulator duties around other racing series. He could, quite conceivably, have continued racing in GP2, or Formula 2, as it then became, for at least one more year given only the championship winning driver cannot compete in a successive season.

        To me, that would have made sense as a way for him to keep his skills sharp in a formula that was similar enough to F1 for it to be useful training, whilst at the same time potentially still being able to work in the simulator as well. Alternatively, they perhaps could have explored another option that a few teams have done, which would be to send him to Japan for the Super Formula championship – another high speed single seater series where he could have kept his skills sharp, yet also had a fair amount of free time to work in the simulator.

        The question is whether Ferrari might have found opportunities for Giovinazzi to race and yet to still cover his duties as a simulator driver – there might have been ways that Ferrari could have managed that process without leaving him on the sidelines for several years.

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