Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

2020 F1 driver rankings #16: Antonio Giovinazzi

2020 F1 season review

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In 2019, Antonio Giovinazzi’s first full season of Formula 1, he performed well enough to justify another year in the sport, but not so well that he stood out as an obvious star of the future.

His second season in F1 was much the same. There was a discernible improvement in Giovinazzi’s pace in qualifying and races which justified Alfa Romeo keeping the faith in him, particularly given how uncompetitive their 2020 contender was. But at the same time it was clear that, however long in the tooth Kimi Raikkonen may be, Giovinazzi’s veteran team mate remains a cut above him on pure race pace.

Raikkonen had to catch Giovinazzi first, however, and the younger driver did a good job of ensuring he began races as well as possible. He narrowly won the qualifying battle 9-8, steadily improving as the year went on, and beat his team mate by at least three-tenths of a second at each of the final three rounds.

On top of that, Giovinazzi’s starts were consistently strong – he gained four or more places in at least half of all races. His average gain of 2.8 places was the best of any driver all season, and by some distance. Giovinazzi made a net gain of 48 places on lap one over 17 races, ahead of Kevin Magnussen (38) and Nicholas Latifi (22).

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His pure race pace remains an area where improvement is still needed, however. Often Alfa Romeo felt the need to get involved when Raikkonen appeared in his team mate’s mirrors. Giovinazzi was told to make way for the team’s other car in each of the first two rounds, again at Monza and might have done so at Spa had he not crashed while Raikkonen was breathing down his neck.

Antonio Giovinazzi

Beat team mate in qualifying9/17
Beat team mate in race4/13
Races finished14/17
Laps spent ahead of team mate421/874
Qualifying margin-0.05s
Points4

That was the low point of a campaign which began promisingly. Giovinazzi must have thought he was in for a better season when he took advantage of rivals’ retirements in the Austrian Grand Prix – including Raikkonen losing a wheel – to rise from 18th to finish ninth. But it turned out to be his best result of the year.

He didn’t score again until the Eifel Grand Prix. Giovinazzi impressed on F1’s return to the Nurburgring, where he made another of his excellent starts, held on to 11th place and resisted Sebastian Vettel’s attacks in the Ferrari. He followed Raikkonen home for his final point of the year at Imola.

They ended the season level on points, but Raikkonen finished ahead almost twice as often. Giovinazzi’s improvement was tangible, but it’s a trend he needs to continue and ideally accelerate in 2021.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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38 comments on “2020 F1 driver rankings #16: Antonio Giovinazzi”

  1. Pretty unsurprising how low he got ranked.

  2. Probably the most anonymous driver on the grid

    1. @marcusbreese Kvyat was also pretty invisible, perhaps even more so, and so was Ocon earlier in the season. As if they weren’t in the races.

  3. Yeah, I do think Giovannazi is a decent driver. And he IS making progress. Not sure it is enough though. Then again, the car clearly is far from “enough” to be able to really compete in F1 as well.

    1. I think giovinazzi’s improvements have been as “fast” as stroll’s have been, so it’s telling that a lot of people criticize stroll and giovinazzi far less.

      1. Stroll is also in a much better position to score points and show true potential

  4. The car’s a dog. I deeply think the association Raikkonen-Giovinazzi-Vasseur is the most peaceful and down-the-earth of the grid. They get along well, like a family.

    1. Vasseur is a humble person :)

  5. I think Kimi is the most over rated driver on the grid, great guy Im sure but if its about performance rather than who you’d hang out with, then i’d say Giovinazzi marginally shades his more illustrious team mate but he hardly looks a prospect either

    1. Ambrogio Isgro
      15th January 2021, 9:49

      Yeah he Just won a wdc you know….
      Kimi in his best days on pure racecraft is one of the best drivers out there. He’s not Hamilton or Verstappen, but still better than half of the grid

      1. I always find it funny how whenever anyone criticises Raikkonen’s current performances, his fans always seem to find the need to bring up his performances well over a decade ago. I’ve never seen a driver have such a narrow peak in his career (2005-2006, I don’t think 2007 was anywhere near as good as his McLaren seasons), and still be heralded as such a great. Throughout his career, he’s been beaten by Heidfeld, Massa, been demolished by Alonso and Vettel, and been outpaced by Grosjean and Giovinazzi in qualifying. I struggle to ever consider him a top 25 F1 driver.

        1. Totally, I was bracing myself for the Kimettes to give me a roasting. In Monza 2017 there must’ve been 20,000 singing ‘kimi raikkonen’ and hes kept a seat for that reason alone i think (IMO). He was a bit of a product of his time in that most of his overtakes were done on the undercut, when he was good, but all we see now is moaning. In some looking glass world the Kimettes inhabit that is seen as hilarious and they get it printed on mugs and T shirts and say what a great guy a lot.

          1. Neil Debacquer
            15th January 2021, 14:47

            His popularity wasn’t the reason he was kept on at Ferrari. It was the fact that he was a team player in those last couple of seasons. I’m pretty you didn’t watch F1 in the mid 2000’s otherwise you would’ve known almost all overtakes were done by use of the overcut not the undercut. He is still beating his team mate at 41 so if that doesn’t show the quality of driver Kimi was and still is then I don’t know what to tell you.

          2. Neil Debacquer, the thing is, it is still often the case that most of his fans tend to bring up the achievements from the earlier phases of Kimi’s career – 2013 is about the most recent year that is frequently brought up as a highlight of Kimi’s career, but not much is said about his career at Ferrari.

            Whilst it is true that he is beating Giovinazzi, there is the caveat that, after the 2017 Chinese GP, Giovinazzi only took part in one further race between that race and the 2019 Australian GP – and that was the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans, where he drove a GTE car.

            It does therefore mean that Kimi is beating a relatively inexperienced driver who has been coming off the back of a two year lay off from racing, so there is a question over whether it is quite as impressive an achievement as it might appear on the surface.

        2. @mashiat What a bunch of nonsense. Saying that the guy was a WDC is simply stating the facts. Compared to the above poster tonymansell who said that Gio shades KR despite all the facts stating the exact opposite, like a 13-4 score in the races which is 100 percent wrong, what’s your problem with stating the facts? And I don’t even care to reply to your comments about narrow 2005-06 window which is again clearly unsupported by facts. But hey Kimi bashers never let facts disturb their agenda

          1. @montreal95 The conversation was about this past season, why does it matter if he won a world championship 13 years ago? That doesn’t automatically make him a better driver than Giovinazzi by default right now. Button won a title more recently, and that wouldn’t automatically make him better than someone like Carlos Sainz right now

            And I don’t even care to reply to your comments about narrow 2005-06 window which is again clearly unsupported by facts. But hey Kimi bashers never let facts disturb their agenda

            Raikkonen was beaten by Felipe Massa in 2008 and for the half season Massa was racing in 2009. In 2012, he was on average slower than Grosjean in qualifying. In 2013, he was outqualified and outraced by Grosjean in almost every race towards the final third of the season. Grosjean’s record since then speaks volumes about how he was never even a top level driver. In 2014, he finished with less than a third of Alonso’s points, and between 2015-2018, he was soundly beaten by Vettel. His time at McLaren was the only point of his career when he was actually quicker than a teammate who wasn’t a rookie or a sophomore. But if you wanna talk straight facts, the facts that matter is that Raikkonen was beaten on points by his teammates in 2001, 2002, 2008, 2009, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. No true elite F1 driver would ever have a record like that and still be considered one of the greatest ever.

    2. @tonymansell I don’t rate Kimi as high as I did. I do think that in in McLaren days he was one of the best drivers, but that is 15 years ago…

      Frankly, I don’t think Kimi cares much about qualifying anymore, something he already hinted at. That is one part of the reason why Giovinazzi beat him in the qualifying battle (that and the ‘fact’ that Kimi lost some raw speed). In races he normally is better than Giovanizzi and in some races you see glimps of the great driver he once was (the start of the Portuguese GP for instance).

    3. @tonymansell Shades him? Don’t let the facts disturb your KR bashing. Kimi destroyed Gio in the races, no serious F1 commentator disagrees with this even those critical of Kimi so how do you say that Gio shaded him when it’s 13-4 in the races between them?

      1. Neil Debacquer
        16th January 2021, 11:09

        Outraced and outqualified by Grosjean at almost every race at the end of 2013? Check you facts the qualifying head to head in 2013 was 11-6 and Kimi finished 49 ahead of Grosjean even though he didn’t race in the final 2 races because he had a back operation which affected during the season aswell.

    4. How does Giovannazzi shade Raikkonen? As the article points out, they tied on points but Kimi finished ahead of him twice as often. The only objective measure Antonio won was qualifying and only just barely.

  6. The first two sentences of this article sum it up perfectly. There’s not much more to be said. If ferrari have any more promising juniors to slot into the alfa seat, then i don’t see Giovinazzi lasting long in the sport. That said, his first two seasons have been much more promising than Stroll’s (stroll had higher highs but was less consistent and often really bad) and a lot of people seem to be buying the hype that he is now a worthy F1 driver. basically, the jury’s still out unless (as is always the case) someone is hammering down the door to take his seat.

  7. Gio was invisible this season… a lot like the Haas drivers. He did improve his quali pace and race starts slightly but overall he just didn’t make an impact on Sundays. Kimi still pulls out some great results on Sundays, but Gio barely had anything worth writing home about. Overall the Alfa was a really poor car this season, so you can’t say Gio unperformed as such.

    I think Keith is being a little too kind on Kvyat though.. I would have rated his season below Gio as he underperformed in much more competitive machinery. Kvyat got absolutely destroyed by Gasly this season.

    I would rate Kvyat at #17, Grosjean #16, Giovinazzi #15, Magnussen #14

    1. Kvyat is far too low IMO from your ranking. Many races this year, especially in the 2nd half, he was as good or better than Gasly. The margins of being beaten were often bigger when Gasly was ahead, but still, if Kvyat is this low, I don’t think you should rate Gasly outside the top 10. Not that you have listen him yet.

      Just a swing of one result in Italy would change everything. Kvyat looked far quicker initially that race and had his strategy ruined by the safety car and Gasly was basically gifted the win, though he handled it brilliantly. But had the luck gone to Kvyat instead, they likely will have been almost tied in the standings. Gasly was clearly better overall this year, but really not by a huge margin. I would probably rate Kvyat just outside the top 10 and gasly just into it.

      1. Pretty sure you mean you don’t think he should rate gasly INSIDE the top 10, instead of outside, otherwise the reasoning stops making sense.

    2. Both of there best results were 9th places, Giovinazzi actually scored a top 10 three times versus two for Raikkonen en both of them scored 4 points.

  8. I think this is slightly harsh on Giovinazzi to be honest.

    He stacked up reasonably well to a former WDC (who admittedly, is past his prime, and probably well past it), and clearly made some progress from last year.

    I’m not sure how you could rank Ocon, who took an absolute pasting off Ricciardo, or Kvyat, who took a similar beating off a driver who’s inferior to Ricciardo in Gasly, above him. They were lucky enough to have better cars, and more opportunities to score points, but they spent most of their time lagging well behind their teammates, and I don’t see any justification for them being ranked above Antonio.

    1. My impression is that all three, Giovinazzi, Kvyat & Ocon, improved markedly over the course of the season. In Giovinazzi’s case I thought he matched Kimi at the end of the year, as did Kyvat vs Gasly.

  9. See, for me I’d put him lower, as one of the absolute worst this season. He’s unimpressive, uninspiring and has spun off all by himself out of the points on several occasions. He’s generally not as fast as Raikkonen, certainly not as good at racecraft even compared to the cars he’s racing against and really given his level of experience with F1 I’d expect him to be beating Raikkonen more consistently than he has. He’s certainly not good enough to elevate to Ferrari and there are certainly other drivers that are stronger than him in both current ability and potential so I’m really not sure why he’s still here.

    1. I personally think he’s a bit like Ericsson. I think he initially just wasn’t good enough, but seems to be improving that little bit, but if it wasn’t for his money or italian backing, he probably wouldn’t be here. However, I thought Ericsson in his final 2018 season was just about good enough to deserve to stay. I don’t think Giovinassi is quite as good as Ericsson was then. Leclerc was great instantly and actually made far less mistakes in his rookie season than the following two. Ericsson was better than many remember, but it took him time to improve. If Giovinazzi keeps getting another chance, he may eventually become decent like Ericsson did. In my opinion that is.

  10. Giovinazzi is hard to rate. I suspect he isn’t any better than the drivers below him, but that is mainly because I doubt Raikkonen is a good benchmark anymore.

  11. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
    15th January 2021, 15:38

    Surprised to see daylight between K-Mag and Grosjean who I had at #18 and #19 this year (I hope your happy Keith you’ve ruined my life). I cant think of any metric to separate them aside from Grosjean’s accident. Both had one good race in a mediocre year.

    1. Grosjean was very good in Tuscany and Germany. Tuscany was masked by the fact his car had serious damage. But I agree they shouldn’t be far apart. But I think both were a bit better than you think, but would rate them incredibly close. The car is that terrible that they haven’t been that bad. Some results have gone against Grosjean such as Styria when he had a team order to let Magnusen by to to an overtake which they both archived, and Grosjean did not get his position given back. This wasn’t points, but still.

      I myself both last year and the previous would rate Grosjean just ever so slightly better. The crash probably should count against him this year though.

      1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        15th January 2021, 20:06

        @thegianthogweed I generally rate both highly and Magnussen is my favourite on the grid, so I’m typically inclined to put him higher than he deserves, but without knowing just how bad that Haas was it’s definitely hard to place them. It’s plausible that they both did a solid years work with the tools at hand behind the scenes.
        I just recall being impressed with the drivers around them a little more often, albeit with better machinery.

      2. As you say they’re both in a truck so no point looking a qually or finishes but Grosjean had a couple of amateur hour “the best defence is offence” offences that were inexcusable. If/when Mazepin has similar incidents this year there’ll be howls for his removal from the seat.

    2. @fullcoursecaution Keith does seem to have a fondness for Magnussen, and as such he has been criticised for being a bit too generous with his rankings for Magnussen in the past.

      In the past few years, he’s usually ranked Magnussen in 14th and Grosjean in 17th to 18th, putting Magnussen 3-4 places ahead of Grosjean. The thing is, he did that in 2019 even though he acknowledged in his article that, in some ways, Grosjean was actually the better driver – Grosjean beat Magnussen more frequently in most races, even with greater unreliability, and Magnussen only really outscored Grosjean thanks to his lucky result in Australia. I wouldn’t be all that surprised if he gave Magnussen 14th again…

  12. Jose Lopes da Silva
    15th January 2021, 18:29

    At least he does not own the seat.

  13. The fact that he’s improved throughout the year tells me that he’s still shaking off the rust after being left on the sidelines for 2 years in 2017 and 2018.

    I think it’s his age that’s going to be the biggest problem though, as he just turned 27, making him older than like, half of the grid. I like the guy, but unless he improves even more next year or if Shwartzman bungled up his sophomore F2 season, I’m not sure Ferrari’s going to keep him.

  14. Should be above Stroll.

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