Kimi Raikkonen, Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo, Mugello, 2020

Raikkonen and Giovinazzi expected to keep F1 seats as Alfa Romeo extends Sauber deal

2021 F1 season

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Alfa Romeo has extended its deal to apply its branding to Sauber’s Formula 1 team for 2021. It is expected to confirm current drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi will remain with the team for a third season next year.

With the two Alfa Romeo seats set to be filled, Ferrari is expected to place another of its junior drivers, Mick Schumacher, at Haas next year.

Sauber and Alfa Romeo’s partnership began in 2017, a year after the sale of the team by Peter Sauber and then-team principal Monisha Kaltenborn to investment firm Longbow Finance. The team initially rebranded to Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team for the 2018 season, before competing as Alfa Romeo Racing in 2019 and 2020.

The team remains operated by the Swiss-based Sauber team, branded as Alfa Romeo. Fiat-Chrysler, which owns the Italian manufacturer, wrote off €941 million from Alfa Romeo and Maserati in 2019, in order to restructure the brands for electrification. The effects of the global coronavirus pandemic worsened the situation, and Fiat-Chrysler reported a loss of more than a billion Euros in the second quarter of 2020.

However, the group have recently announced a dramatic reversal of that fortune, posting a €1.2 billion profit from the three months ending on September 30th, ahead of a planned merger between the group and Peugeot.

Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo, Mugello, 2020
The Sauber-run team will continue to carry Alfa Romeo branding
RaceFans understands Alfa Romeo and Sauber’s contract included an option to end their partnership after the current season. The extension of the deal has been officially confirmed today.

“The extension of our relationship with Alfa Romeo is a true statement of intent from both parties,” said team principal Frederic Vasseur. “Both parties always intended for this relationship to bear fruit in the long term. We have laid some solid foundations in the last three season and we aim to reap the rewards of this work in 2021 and beyond.”

The team is expected to retain its current driver line-up for Raikkonen, who became the most experience F1 driver in history this year, and Giovinazzi, who will start his third full season in F1. Alfa Romeo lies eighth in the 2020 constructors’ championship, Raikkonen having scored two points so far this year and Giovinazzi three.

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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26 comments on “Raikkonen and Giovinazzi expected to keep F1 seats as Alfa Romeo extends Sauber deal”

  1. That’s a shame. I was really hoping for a rookie (Ilott or Schwartzman) in stead of GIO. He’s had his chance for two seasons and can’t even outperform Kimi who is, with all due respect, well over his best years in F1.

    1. Yeah don’t get this. I’m sure Kimi is not cheap either.

      I’m sure changing drivers is not an easy thing to risk, but there are better drivers than Gio, and cheaper as good drivers than Kimi.

  2. I’m not totally sure what they’re hoping for from this. Giovinazzi is clearly not the next big thing at this stage and Ferrari have three (and more) exciting talents in Formula Two waiting for the chance to prove themselves at the top level. Raikkonen occasionally shows flashes of the old brilliance, but he himself has been found wanting against Vettel and Alonso in the past. Giovinazzi should be beating Raikkonen… the fact that he is not, and rarely does, should surely mean a change is necessary.

    To each their own; it wouldn’t be the decision I’d make, but clearly the team sees some value in retaining them both.

    1. @ben-n As with the speculation with Russell and Williams, this is not likely to be a driving-ability focussed decision.

      I can see Kimi being bled dry doing a LOT more Alfa Romeo advertising as a result of this (same goes for Vettel with Aston Martin). I can’t see the same appeal with Giovanazzi however but I don’t have all the information and data.

      1. same goes for Vettel with Aston Martin

        Bit of a difference though. AM signed Vettel for marketing only, clearly indicated by his salaries as a driver and as brand ambassador.

    2. @ben-n I’m not sure if they keep Gio because he is italian and there are only limited number of seats available. I think for a marketing point of view it is better to have an italian driving an Alfa than some young british bloke (who really has the talent to be in F1)

      1. They kept Gio because Ferrari still believe in him I think. Not entirely sure why tbh.

  3. How did Giovinazzi go from “likely to lose his seat” to “expected to stay” in a matter of three weeks?

    1. It’s not called ‘Silly Season’ for nothing…

    2. Whereas the driver lineup is not confirmed yet, both drivers are making a pretty good job with the underperforming machinery they have. GIO is always under the radar but if you look well he is having quite a solid season.

  4. Seems like quite a strange decision to keep both drivers. I had expected one to leave at least.

    I think GIO has been pretty disappointing really so I am surprised they are not going to replace him with one the rising F2 stars. It’s just odd.

    Does this mean Haas are going to have two rookies then in 2021? Again an odd decision if so. You would think they would want at least one driver with some F1 experience.

  5. I thought the whole point was that Ferrari were placing Giovinazzi at Alfa Romeo. If that remains true, I can’t understand why they are persisting with him when they have so many other young drivers looking for seats. Especially when they could have one new guy here and one at Hass.

  6. Kind of a strange decision to be honest. Both Haas and Alfa Romeo should think also about 2022 when the new regs kick in. They wouldn’t want to start the new era with two new rookies then who have no experience to fix whatever issues need to be fixed with the car then. So it’s better, not just to have an experienced driver coming in ahead of 2022, but someone who’s been at least a year with the team and knows how it operates to make the transition smooth. So they should better commit to a driver for at least the next two years.

    Kimi + Giovinazzi are not that pair for 2021. It’s doubtful whether Kimi would stay after 2021 when he’s 42 and Giovinazzi although is not that bad and he has the experience, he’s not setting the world on fire to say he deserves a 2-year deal.

    At Haas if they bring in two rookies in 2021, they might find it difficult to fix the issues with the car in 2021 and help those rookies gain some valuable experience for 2022.

    So in my view, if Ferrari wants to keep Giovinazzi in F1 and promote (at least) Schumacher somewhere, then they should place Schumacher in Alfa Romeo along with Kimi to help him gain experience in 2021 and learn how to ‘lead’ the team after Kimi (presumably) retires before 2022… and place Giovinazzi in Haas so that Haas has at least a ‘known’ quantity that has some experience and pair him with whaterver rookie Haas has in mind.

  7. Sounds like the younger MS will save Haas on interest alone. That’s a big story for a team struggling with their current drivers who accomplished practically nothing season after season. They made the grid regularly but that’s about it. I don’t know if they ever led a lap ever.
    Bet your instincts that Haas must feel relief and excitement for this news. Imagine the MS effect and also know that brings better Ferrari Lumps and that should raise a eyebrow or two of true curiosity. Does the kid have what the old man had?? It’s a cool story. So my guess is that the new Haas must become a hell of a lot better.

    It HAAS to.

    They gotta feel optimistic about the good fortune and opportunity this should bring.
    It’s good news for Formula One during these days of the Covis.

  8. I would be disappinted if Kimi and Antonio remain at Alfa Romeo for the next season. Its known that Ferrari considers the team as place to breed and nuture new talent in F1. Combined with Haas, these two teams like the perfect F1.5 bridge between F2 and F1. Its a no-brainer to have someone like Schwartzmann race for them. Having Kimi might help with knowledge transfer but i wonder if they thought about having someone do a split duty throughout the season–Antonio in the first half of the season with Schwartzman replacing him for the second while Kimi continues to be an excellent source of wisdom.

  9. I do wonder now if this is a kind of political decision. What I mean is Alfa Romeo and its parent are Italian related companies. Will it look good for an Italian company to dump one of their own young drivers to be replaced by a German, a Russian or a British driver. Not really. Perhaps better to allocate one or more of these to Haas?

    Admittedly this kind of thing does not usually matter to F1 teams but maybe for marketing purposes, the current driver line-up is helping the company financially?

  10. This means another Now TV subscription for next season (damn it).
    In the case of GIO, however, it is baffling. The only logical explanation that no one has picked up on yet, is that GIO has something serious on Vasseur that he threatens to make public.
    Could it be video of five hookers in a Chelsea dungeon with SM gear and German uniforms..?

  11. Another year of Kimi and Alonso dreadful.

    1. Kimi is not willing to allow Alonso to catch him in the all time number of races started!

  12. Can’t help but feel a little underwhelmed

  13. Personally I’m not keen on the Alfa Romeo ‘branding’, as it’s basically a Sauber wearing an Alfa Romeo hat – it’s not actually the manufacturer at all.

    Keeping Raikkonen makes sense in a way. There are other drivers available but he’s doing a solid job and his feedback is probably very helpful. But I can’t see the sense in retaining Giovinazzi, who’s been unimpressive and incident prone since he’s been there. He could be worse I suppose but with the available people on the market, keeping him seems an absolutely baffling choice.

  14. I’m amazed Giovinazzi is expected to retain his seat. A couple months ago I actually thought Alfa would be doing a double driver swap for 2021, didn’t think Kimi would want to drive this Alfa for another year (he already seems kind of fed up this year) and Giovinazzi hasn’t done anything to suggest he’s one for the future either.

    So many decent drivers Ferrari could promote, you would’ve thought they’d be itching to get rid of him to try out the new generation but I guess none of them are Italian which is about the only thing Antonio has going for him.

  15. What will it take to get good racers in tierr 2 team. Gio is invisible.

    Kimi lets everyone by, as if he’s only in it for the money and fun..

    We need hungry drivers.

    Having said the above.. not my money. Not my call.. lol

  16. A lot of comments understandably questioning why Giovinazzi has kept his seat. Could be worth noting that in the current covid world, Ferrari could do a lot worse than keep their current reserve driver (who has two years race experience) in an active seat. Especially considering that F1 is planning to venture outside Europe next season.

  17. Commonsense would be that Mick [for his development] to be with Kimi in an Italian squad.
    But, Mick will most likely used as a pawn in Ferrari/Haas scenario.

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