Antonio Giovinazzi

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Haas wary of taking on Ferrari F1 juniors in race seats

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Gene Haas is wary of hiring a junior driver from a larger Formula 1 operation for his eponymous team, believing it “doesn’t really make a lot of sense” from a business perspective to do so.

NASCAR team co-owner Haas hit the F1 grid in 2016 with Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez in seats, the latter being replaced by Kevin Magnussen for 2017.

Haas F1 Team enjoys close ties with Ferrari, and has given track time to its two leading juniors – Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi (pictured) – in the past, leading to speculation they could take a full-time race seat in the future.

Haas has already confirmed that Grosjean and Magnussen will continue through 2018, and explained his caution over hiring a junior from another team on business grounds.

“I don’t think we rule it out, but from a business model it doesn’t really make a lot of sense,” Haas said.

“There’s no secret that it costs $60 million to put a car on the track for the season and if someone gives you a driver and not just from Ferrari, from anybody, and they’re going to pay you five or six million dollars, there’s $55 million deficit there somewhere.

“So it doesn’t really make sense to want to run let’s say a partner or a paid driver for compensation. I think our point of view has always been that we need to obtain points and that’s how we generate moving forward and making money.

“So that’s our business model. I think Ferrari respects that and based on that, if there’s some mutual agreement that we could come to we probably would be more open to that.”

Giovinazzi confirmed for Singapore F1 practice appearance with Haas

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Ferrari youngster Antonio Giovinazzi will get another chance to showcase his skills in a Formula 1 car when he takes part in opening practice for the Singapore Grand Prix with Haas.

Giovinazzi, 23, joined Ferrari’s junior program at the end of last year after finishing second in the GP2 Series, and was drafted in by Sauber to replace the injured Pascal Wehrlein for the opening two grands prix of the year.

The Italian confirmed at the end of May he would be taking part in an extensive practice program with Haas through the second half of the season, getting seven FP1 run-outs starting in Hungary.

Giovinazzi’s second appearance was due to follow at Monza last week, only for Haas to reschedule due to the threat of rain and fear of losing more track time on Friday.

To make up for the lost session, Giovinazzi will now feature in practice for the Singapore Grand Prix next Friday at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, as confirmed by Haas on Twitter.

Despite his practice running, Giovinazzi is not set to drive full-time for Haas next year, with the American team already confirming that existing drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen will be retained.

Giovinazzi’s best chance of an F1 seat appears to come at Sauber, who is set to enjoy a closer relationship with Ferrari from 2018 after signing a new technical partnership.

Ferrari hopeful of placing Leclerc, Giovinazzi at Sauber

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Ferrari CEO and chairman Sergio Marchionne hopes that next year’s new Formula 1 engine deal with Sauber will allow the Italian marque to give junior drivers Antonio Giovinazzi and Charles Leclerc a chance to step into a full-time seat.

Sauber announced ahead of last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix that it had canceled its planned technical partnership with Honda in favor of a new engine deal with Ferrari, starting in 2018.

Ferrari currently has 2016 GP2 runner-up Giovinazzi – who entered two races for Sauber at the start of the year – and runaway Formula 2 leader Leclerc on its books, but no real locations for them to land in F1.

While Haas has run both drivers in practice thanks to its technical partnership with Ferrari, the American team intends to keep Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen on its books for 2018.

However, Marchionne sees the Sauber deal as a way for Ferrari to secure some room for its young drivers on the F1 grid, as explained to Italian media over the Hungary weekend.

“It’s a very positive thing. It’s a way to create a kind-of junior team,” Marchionne said.

“We have a pair of exceptional drivers we need to run, but we need space for them.

“It’s a great idea, and we are working on it.”

Sauber currently fields Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein in F1, the latter being part of Mercedes’ junior program, making his place with the team beyond 2018 unclear in light of the increased Ferrari deal.

Giovinazzi buoyant after first FP1 outing with Haas

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Antonio Giovinazzi was back in a Formula 1 car for today’s first practice session for the only the second time since his pair of outings for Sauber F1 Team to kick off the year, deputizing for Pascal Wehrlein.

The Italian had his first of seven outings with Haas F1 Team at Silverstone, in for Kevin Magnussen. He completed 23 laps, running only on Pirelli’s soft tire compound, and ended the session just over four tenths off Romain Grosjean’s pace. His best time of 1:32.031 was ahead 16th, good to beat both Renaults and both Saubers.

Giovinazzi has plenty of track experience at Silverstone but this offered him his first test since doing so with Scuderia Ferrari in April, after the Bahrain Grand Prix. That test followed the Australian and Chinese Grands Prix which kicked off the year.

“First of all, I want to say thank you to Scuderia Ferrari for this opportunity. It was a really good session. My last test was Bahrain with Ferrari a long time ago, so to be back in a car was really nice,” he said.

“It was a session to just get as many laps as we could. We didn’t make any mistakes, we tried quite a few things, and I was confident in the car. I was really happy with our performance. It’s nice to see how different teams work. I’m looking forward to my remaining six FP1 performances with Haas F1 Team. It’s a fantastic team, so I’m really happy to join them and I’ll do my best.”

Giovinazzi said this was a tougher place to debut with Haas given the number of high-speed corners, particularly with the increased cornering speed that has come with the new generation of 2017 cars.

“I started this FP1 session at one of the hardest tracks with a lot of downforce and a lot of fast corners. I think to be four-tenths from Romain is strong. He, of course, has a lot of experience and laps to start.

“I can’t wait to jump in the car again in Hungary. It will also be hard as it’s a difficult track, but I’ve already got some confidence from the car so it’ll be a little easier.”

Team principal Guenther Steiner said Giovinazzi was fine in his first run-out for the team. Haas has run Charles Leclerc, a fellow young Ferrari driver, in FP1 sessions in 2016 but this marked the first time Haas has run a third driver this year.

“A very workmanlike day. Antonio drove one of the cars in FP1 and he did a good job,” he said. “We had some issues on the first outings with both cars – some electronic issues – which we sorted and were okay with on the second set of tires. The whole day was relatively uneventful.”

Giovinazzi set for seven FP1 runs with Haas F1 Team

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File this one under news we didn’t particularly see coming. Ferrari reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi will have seven free practice one appearances later this year with Haas F1 Team in the Ferrari-powered Haas VF-17 chassis, starting in Silverstone in July.

The Italian will take over Kevin Magnussen’s chassis for six of those seven outings, and Romain Grosjean’s in Mexico City.

The outings will be at Silverstone, Budapest, Monza, Sepang, Mexico City, Sao Paulo and Abu Dhabi.

Giovinazzi drove two races this year as an injury fill-in for Pascal Wehrlein at Sauber in Melbourne and Shanghai, finishing 12th in the first one and crashing out of the second one. Keeping him to only two races ensures he retains his rookie status for testing purposes throughout the year.

It also, may, indirectly, kick off the 2018 silly season. A driver doesn’t necessarily get this many planned runs – announced this early in the year – without the foreshadowing of a full drive in the following year.

Alas, it’ll give Giovinazzi more running throughout the year and now with a new team. Haas ran Charles Leclerc in a handful of free practice sessions and has also tested Santino Ferrucci, the young American, who stays on in a developmental role this year.

“In a year that’s already been filled with great opportunities, I’m proud to have another one with Haas F1 Team,” said Giovinazzi.

“Being the third driver with Scuderia Ferrari is obviously a great place to be, and getting seat time in these FP1 sessions with Haas F1 Team will keep me sharp. I’ll be able to take what I’ve learned in the simulator and apply it in actual race conditions. I’m proud of the faith Ferrari and Haas have in me and gracious for the seat time Kevin and Romain are sharing with me.”

Team principal Guenther Steiner added, “Antonio Giovinazzi earned a good bit of Formula One experience during his two races with Sauber this year and these FP1 sessions with our team will allow him to develop even more. He is highly regarded by Ferrari and performed very well last year in Formula 2. It’s a good opportunity for him and we’re happy to provide it. Credit also goes to Kevin and Romain for graciously sharing their racecars with Antonio.”