Giovinazzi fails to capitalise on qualifying superiority in final duel with Raikkonen

2021 team mate battles: Raikkonen vs Giovinazzi

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Kimi Raikkonen’s F1 career – the longest ever in the sport in terms of races started – ended with three years alongside Antonio Giovinazzi at Alfa Romeo.

Over time Giovinazzi, who had started just two races as a substitute when he joined Raikkonen for the 2019 campaign, steadily improved against the former world champion.

He produced almost certainly his best season this year. Giovinazzi comfortably out-qualified Raikkonen 13-6 over the course of the season, taking a dominant 8-1 lead over the opening rounds.

Points were harder to come by for Alfa Romeo in 2021 compared to previous seasons. Raikkonen lost a ninth place finish in Imola after falling foul of a very particular quirk in the restart regulations following a spin on the way back to the grid, before an embarrassing error in Portugal saw him drive into his team mate at the end of the opening lap, which ended Raikkonen’s race.

Giovinazzi scored the team’s first point of the year in Monaco, but Raikkonen drew level at the next round in Baku, then took a second point for tenth in Hungary before the summer break.

Raikkonen missed two rounds once the season resumed after testing positive for Covid, being replaced by Robert Kubica. Unsurprisingly, Giovinazzi finished ahead of his substitute team mate on both occasions – but only by one position each time.

When Raikkonen returned with his pending retirement at year’s end confirmed, he boosted his points tally considerably thanks to two eighth place finishes – first at the rain-affected Russian Grand Prix, then in Mexico, where the pair started an impressive tenth and 11th on the grid.

Giovinazzi delayed Raikkonen in Turkey
The Mexico City race was a sore point for Giovinazzi, however, who crossed the line in 11th for the third consecutive race after running in seventh before an early solitary pit stop. Stuck in traffic, he was unable to make the most of his strategy and watched Raikkonen take the points ahead of him. A disgusted Giovinazzi openly questioned his team’s tactics after the race.

Two rounds earlier, Alfa Romeo counted the cost of Giovinazzi’s reluctance to let Raikkonen pass him when ordered to. Had he played ball his team mate, who was quicker on the day, might have bagged another point.

Raikkonen’s eighth place would prove to be his final ever points finish in Formula 1, but Giovinazzi scored a consolation point in Jeddah and finished the year out-qualifying Raikkonen over the final two rounds.

Giovinazzi has every right to feel frustrated that what could well end up being his final full year in F1 was his least-fruitful, despite arguably driving his best against his world championship winning team mate. His place has been taken by Guanyu Zhou, while Valtteri Bottas arrives from Mercedes as Alfa Romeo clean house for 2022.

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Kimi Raikkonen vs Antonio Giovinazzi: Key stats

Kimi Raikkonen vs Antonio Giovinazzi: Who finished ahead at each round


Kimi Raikkonen vs Antonio Giovinazzi: Qualifying gap

Times based on the last qualifying round at each race weekend in which both drivers set a time. Negative indicates Kimi Raikkonen was faster, positive means Antonio Giovinazzi was faster

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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13 comments on “Giovinazzi fails to capitalise on qualifying superiority in final duel with Raikkonen”

  1. Kimi Raikkonen’s F1 career – the longest ever in the sport in terms of races started

    Looking back at Raikkonen’s long career in F1 got me thinking, if we connect drivers that raced together in at least one Grand Prix, how many steps do we need to take until we get to a driver who took part in the very first F1 championship race in Silverstone back in 1950?

    I got – Kimi Raikkonen raced with Jean Alesi who raced with Riccardo Patrese who raced with Mario Andretti who raced with Jack Brabham who raced with Juan Manuel Fangio.

    So that’s only five steps to cover 71 years. Quite impressive but I wonder if it can be done in even less? Though I would guess it can’t.

    And BTW, Andretti’s F1 career was quite bonkers too. Turns out this is a true statement: Mario Andretti competed in F1 with both 1959 champ Jack Brabham and 1993 champ Alain Prost. Take note for the next trivia quiz!

    1. Very impressive!!

      If I discount just 1 race, the 1950 British Grand Prix, I can do it in 4 steps. Kimi-Alesi-Patrese-Chris Amon-Maurice Trintignant.

    2. Nice exercise, I don’t think you can do it in fewer steps unless you expand to other series, example:
      Start with Fangio and continue with Graham Hill (they shared a single race, the French GP of 1958), then Emerson Fittipaldi who raced against Jacques Villeneuve (in Indycar), who raced against Kimi in F1

    3. Very interesting stats.

  2. He was a likeable guy from the outside. He may had one of the best teammates you could hope for. Still he was a one team man. 60 races for Sauber (technically 2 for Sauber and 58 for Alfa Romeo) but still only Ericsson 81, Raikkonen 75 and Frentzen have raced more races for Team Sauber than Giovinazzi.

    1. Heidfeld too on 125 (2001-03/2006-10)

  3. I still feel that Kimi will get rated ahead in the driver rankings by race fans this year, despite to me it beign very clear that Giovinazzi was a fair bit better. At the mid point of the season, I would say there were only 2 or 3 races where Kimi had been betetr. Giovinazzi has problems in the pits in the first race, otherwise he will have finished ahead. And there have been so many other occations where he has been hit by bad luck. Significently more so than Kimi. Kimi has done good at times though. In the later part of the season, Kimi was at one point doign better than Giovinazzi over quitea few races overall, but then Giovinazzi started to look clearly better again. I would certainly rate Giovinazzi ahead of him this year. The points gap isn’t at all representetive. Most of the times kimi has been in the points has been linked to good fortune. Giovinasi in the most recent race he scored in was actually only aided by Perez retiring, and if anything, the safety car brought the Ferrari’s closer to him and he may well have beaten one or both of them without that which is quite something.

    It has been his best season, but couldn’t be called a great one. Partly because Kimi is so popular, I can still see him getting rated higher, but I don’t see any justified reason behind that.

    On another forum where we have a team mate wars (which team mate we vote for that has done the better job each weekend), I actually described each time why I was surprised Kimi was leading and I honestly think it was his popularity and people ignoring that Giovinazzi lost out due to misfortune that went unnoticed. That happened incredibly often this season.

    1. @thegianthogweed

      The points gap isn’t at all representetive. Most of the times kimi has been in the points has been linked to good fortune.

      Definitively not the case in Mexico City, for instance. Bad strategy is not a good excuse at all. Drivers should be minimally proactive with strategy making, and Giovinazzi was not particularly good in keeping his tyres alive, thus diminishing the range of strategy calls available.
      I agree the gap in points make it look like Kimi convincingly beat Antonio (clearly not the case), but he probably still have a slim edge overall, despite being comprehensively slower in quali. Kimi’s attributes of race reading (not too far off from Alonso’s highly praised abilities) and tyre conservation are not valued enough, even if his speed is indeed lacking, so I’d easily imagine he outscoring Gio again next year due to his skills, if both of them would continue racing for Alfa Romeo, but not gonna happen, both are out of Formula 1.
      But here’s some good reasons to rank Kimi slightly higher than Gio other than “being popular”. Excuses due to misfortune are valid until some point. It easily becomes an easy shortcut to cover for weak performance. Race strategy is probably a poor excuse in most of the cases, as the driver is not helpless in front of it, and incidents might be in some cases or in some amount as well (rarely only one driver is to blame for a tango), whilst mechanical failures are reasonable excuses most of the time, but still not every time. Driving performance is much more than outright speed.

  4. It’s a shame Giovinazzi didn’t have another season to show his potential. In F1, it’s hard to be a late bloomer but not all competitors grow at the same rate.

    1. True, could’ve done a bit better perhaps given another season, but then again there’s only 20 seats, and there’s people like piastri missing out.

    2. I reckon he’s better than the billionaire kids – Mazepin, Latifi and Stroll. He should be able to beat each and every one of them over the course of a season. However, I don’t think he’d beat another non-billionaire kid driver. You could argue Schumacher and Tsonuda since they were rookies, but that’s also debatable. Both the rookies showed glimpses of promise this year.

  5. After three seasons, my verdict on Giovinazzi is that he’s a solid midfielder, but not much else – at least when driving for Sauber/Alfa Romeo. Somewhat anonymous, some good performances, but overall quite forgettable when battling in the midfield of these past few years. If there were 26 cars on the grid, then I’m pretty sure there would be room for him.

  6. Giovinazzi was strong this year, in the drivers’ comparison we should consider that sauber was constantly manoeuvring to put Kimi ahead…in the second part of the season it seemed that Sauber was really mistreating Gio, probably to prove that he was not worth a renewal…
    Btw, so bad mistakes in the occasion Gio could have well scored…

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