Antonio Giovinazzi

Prema Racing

Prema unveils 2017 GP2 livery; Nabil Jeffri joins Trident

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Prema has revealed its new-look livery ahead of the 2017 GP2 Series season, sporting a look fitting for a team represented by two Ferrari juniors.

Prema made its debut in GP2 last year, taking both titles at the first attempt as drivers Pierre Gasly and Antonio Giovinazzi diced for the drivers’ crown.

Red Bull junior Gasly came out on top, securing a move into Super Formula for 2017, while Giovinazzi has linked up with Ferrari as its new reserve in Formula 1.

Prema will field 2016 GP3 champion Charles Leclerc and fellow Ferrari junior Antonio Fuoco in GP2 this year, with the team’s new-look livery being unveiled on Thursday.

In other GP2 news, Trident has confirmed the signing of Malaysian racer Nabil Jeffri for the 2017 season.

Jeffri made his GP2 debut in 2016 with Arden, scoring two points with a best finish of seventh in Baku, and will return for his sophomore year at Trident.

“I am really honored to be the first Trident driver announced for the 2017 GP2 program,” Jeffri said.

“Having the chance to return to the series for my second season, and doing it with a Team with such a long and winning history is a dream for me. I am sure that they will support me best in 2017.”

The new GP2 season begins on April 15 in Bahrain.

Antonio Giovinazzi to focus on Ferrari F1 reserve role in 2017

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Antonio Giovinazzi has confirmed that he will not commit to a full race program in 2017, instead preferring to focus on his reserve driver duties with Ferrari in Formula 1.

Giovinazzi finished second in his debut GP2 season last year, losing out in the title race to Red Bull junior Pierre Gasly at the last round of the season.

The Italian’s efforts led to him joining Ferrari as its reserve driver ahead of the 2017 season, enjoying his first F1 test in a 2015-spec car at Fiorano over the winter.

Despite testing a GP2 car at the end of last year for Arden, Giovinazzi confirmed to reporters in Barcelona this week that he had no racing plans in 2017.

“No, not really. For now I am third driver, I will do a lot in the simulator,” Giovinazzi explained.

“I will follow the race weekend in F1, and then we’ll see what happens.

“It will be more tough than all the years I did in my career, to be in the paddock will be quite different, less adrenaline.

“But it’s F1, it’s quite a difficult car, especially with all the function in the steering wheel so the simulator is also really good to learn this thing and to be ready when they want to put me in a car.”

Giovinazzi got his first taste of current-year machinery earlier this week when he tested for Sauber, stepping in for the injured Pascal Wehrlein for two days of the collective F1 running.

“[It was a] really special day, first time in an F1 official test is a big thing for me. Last year I was in GP2, and to have this opportunity is great for me,” he said.

“I just need to work really hard and of course I need to say thanks to Ferrari for giving me this opportunity and to Sauber F1 Team. So it’s really special for me to be here and important as well. To be in the car is something really important for a driver.”

Sauber confirms Giovinazzi to deputize for Wehrlein at first test

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As expected, but not necessarily official until confirmed directly by Sauber F1 Team, Ferrari third driver Antonio Giovinazzi has been confirmed to fill in for Pascal Wehrlein at next week’s first test of the Formula 1 season at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona which runs from February 27-March 2. The second test, also in Barcelona, is March 7-10.

Sauber called Wehrlein’s injuries, reported as either neck or back injuries in other outlets, “back problems” and said further information will follow when available.

The team has not, as yet, confirmed its test plan of when Giovinazzi and Marcus Ericsson, who ran the team’s filming day earlier this week, will drive.

“We took the decision that Pascal will not be driving in the first test in Barcelona. We will monitor his medical progress and will then decide on the next steps,” Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said in a release.

Wehrlein had already confirmed his absence but the team hadn’t, yet. He will be on site though.

“It is a pity that I cannot be in the car during the first test days, but I will be in Barcelona in order to get familiar with the team’s procedures and also to follow the Sauber C36-Ferrari on track,” he said.

Giovinazzi, who made his first test with Ferrari at the tail end of last year, added, “I thank the Sauber F1 Team for making this real, and also Ferrari for allowing me to replace Pascal for test one in Barcelona.”

Pascal Wehrlein to miss first F1 pre-season test through injury

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Pascal Wehrlein has confirmed that he will miss the first collective Formula 1 pre-season test in Barcelona later this month through injury.

Wehrlein sustained a neck and back injury after rolling his car during the Race of Champions in Miami last month when he crashed after crossing the finish line at the end of a heat.

Doctors in Miami told Wehrlein to miss the second day of the event as a precaution, but the German is yet to fully recover and will now miss the first pre-season running in Barcelona, set to begin on February 27.

Wehrlein had been due to make his first public appearance for Sauber in Barcelona, having joined the team from Manor following his rookie campaign in 2016.

Sauber is yet to officially announce that Wehrlein will be missing the test, but is set to field Ferrari youngster Antonio Giovinazzi in its second car.

Giovinazzi finished second in the GP2 Series last year and enjoyed his first F1 test with a 2015-spec Ferrari earlier this month at Fiorano.

The Italian driver is likely to share the four days of running in Barcelona with full-season driver Marcus Ericsson, who returns for a third year with Sauber in 2017.

The second pre-season test in Barcelona will begin on March 7, giving Wehrlein almost three weeks to get fully fit in time to make his first appearance for Sauber.

Antonio Giovinazzi enjoys “emotional” first Ferrari F1 test at Fiorano

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2016 GP2 vice-champion Antonio Giovinazzi enjoyed his first Formula 1 test with Ferrari at Fiorano on Thursday.

Giovinazzi, 23, finished second in last year’s GP2 standings behind Red Bull youngster Pierre Gasly, and stood out as one of the best rookies to grace the series in recent years.

The Italian’s efforts were good enough to land him a role as Ferrari’s third driver for the 2017 season, as confirmed by CEO Sergio Marchionne in December.

Giovinazzi was given his first taste of F1 machinery on Thursday, completing running in the 2015-spec Ferrari F1 car at Fiorano, its private test track.

According to Ferrari, Giovinazzi “ran a test program, approved by the FIA, aimed at making a comparison between data acquired in the simulator and on track.”

“It was a wonderful feeling, as this was my first time driving a Formula 1 car. For an Italian, driving out of the pits in a Ferrari is an amazing experience,” Giovinazzi said after the test.

“The actual testing was very interesting, with so many procedures to follow. But the guys in the team were very nice to me and extremely helpful and that made everything much easier. I’d like to thank the whole team.”