Antonio Giovinazzi

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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

Photo: 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.”

Quartet of youngsters get key running Tuesday in Bahrain

Giovinazzi among four young drivers that ran in Bahrain on Tuesday. Photo: Getty Images
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One of the joys of in-season testing for Formula 1 is that teams will opt to run young drivers, either their reserve or test/development drivers, during these occasions. That gives a bit of variety as opposed to just writing about the 20 primary race drivers.

It was an interesting day for the four youngsters afforded that opportunity today in the first of two days for the Bahrain in-season test.

Antonio Giovinazzi was still eligible by way of only competing in the first two Grands Prix as a fill-in for Pascal Wehrlein at Sauber, with Wehrlein confirming his fitness wasn’t up to scratch but then exceeding expectations in a good drive in Sunday’s Grand Prix.

Importantly for Giovinazzi, getting a day back in the new Ferrari SF70H was key after his nightmare second weekend in China, when he crashed both in qualifying and the race. He ran 93 laps and finished second on the timesheets with a best time of 1:31.984.

“I enjoyed every single lap,” Giovinazzi said, via the Ferrari website. “To drive the car that won the last race and is leading the world championship, working with the Scuderia Ferrari engineers and mechanics, is not just a great feeling, it’s a dream I’ve had since I was little and racing in karts. And today it came true.”

Down at Toro Rosso, Indonesian driver Sean Gelael had his first day in the Renault-powered but as yet unbadged engine car. The Formula 2 veteran, who’s also dovetailed a bit in sports car racing with his Jagonya Ayam branding (Indonesian KFC), had his first day in an F1 car. He did 78 laps and posted a best time of 1:33.885; he’ll return in Hungary later this year.

“Today is a day I will never forget – to finally drive a Formula 1 car is something every driver dreams of, and to do it with Scuderia Toro Rosso makes it even more special,” he said. “What an amazing feeling! This year’s car is a beast, it’s so quick! I settled in nicely throughout the day and we definitely made progress. I was able to complete plenty of laps and get used to the car quickly.

“The power and overall grip is amazing and, compared to the Formula 2 car I drive, the grip under braking and the kerb riding are two of the biggest differences I felt. Honestly, it’s really fun to drive and I’d like to thank everyone who made this possible! I now can’t wait to drive the STR12 again in a few months’ time at the test in Hungary.”

Sahara Force India test driver Alfonso Celis Jr. had yet another day in the car. The Mexican driver has run a handful of FP1 sessions and today ran 71 laps with a best time of 1:33.939.

“It was a straightforward day for me and I completed more than a race distance,” he said. “There have been a lot of changes since I last was in the car in Barcelona and the first few laps were a bit of a learning process. Fortunately the aero program at the start of the day gave me some time to get used to the car again.

“We were able to complete some performance runs in the afternoon, but I ran into traffic each time so I couldn’t really take everything out of the car. The temperatures out there were much hotter than I’ve ever experienced on these tyres and it was useful for me to understand how to manage and look after them. All in all, I felt pretty comfortable in the car and I am happy with my performance.”

The going wasn’t so good for Oliver Turvey, McLaren’s test and development driver, in his first day in the car this year. A power unit change was again needed for his McLaren Honda, which provided the Englishman a firsthand look at the struggles faced by the team this season for its two full-season drivers, Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne.

Nonetheless after the change, the team rallied to complete another 17 laps.

Turvey has been a McLaren regular over the years but this marked his first time actually in a car in two years. He competes regularly in the FIA Formula E Championship.

“I’ve been looking forward to getting back in the car – it’s been two years since I last tested – so I’m really grateful to McLaren-Honda for giving me the opportunity to drive here in Bahrain. It’s frustrating to have had an issue this morning which cost us a lot of track time, but, for me, every lap in a Formula 1 car is beneficial and it was great to be back in the car,” he said in the team release.

“I got a few laps in at the end of the day and managed to get enough of a feel for what the car is like to be able to go back to MTC and contribute to the correlation between the car and simulator, which hopefully will help with the development back in the factory. I do a lot of work in the simulator so being able to correlate between there and the track is really important. I still feel we achieved something today despite the limited running.

“The guys have been working extremely hard in the garage and I want to say thanks to them for helping me to get back out on track. Today for me was about getting a feeling for how the whole package – car and tires – works together. This is my eighth season with the team as a test driver, and I last drove for McLaren-Honda in 2015, so the car feels completely different. It’s hard to compare from year to year, but any time and knowledge I can pick up from my time in the car is important Tomorrow I’m keen to follow Stoffel’s program, as I think it will be really useful.”

Marchionne: Giovinazzi ‘has the potential’ to be a Ferrari F1 driver

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Ferrari chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne believes that junior driver Antonio Giovinazzi “has the potential” to drive for the Scuderia in Formula 1 one day, but remained coy about putting him in a seat in the near future.

Giovinazzi secured a third driver role with Ferrari for 2017 after finishing second in last year’s GP2 Series, and was subbed in to replace the injured Pascal Wehrlein at Sauber for the opening two rounds of the season.

The Italian put in an impressive display over the Australian Grand Prix weekend on debut, almost reaching Q2, but suffered a crash in qualifying in China.

Along with congratulating lead Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel on his victory in Australia two weeks ago, Marchionne also paid tribute to Giovinazzi in his statement after the race for his debut display.

With Kimi Raikkonen due to be out of contract at the end of the year, Giovinazzi has been linked as a possible outsider for a Ferrari F1 seat in 2018, with the Italian marque having a history for hiring home-grown drivers.

Speaking to reporters ahead of Sunday’s race in China, Marchionne said he didn’t think Giovinazzi would be ready for a seat with Ferrari in 2018, but thinks he has what it takes to race for the team in the future.

“I don’t know about that,” Marchionne said when asked if Giovinazzi would be ready for a Ferrari seat next year.

“I think he certainly has the potential to be a Ferrari driver. Not withstanding what happened yesterday [in qualifying], he’s a great driver.

“He’s got great instincts. We need to see him develop.”

Giovinazzi suffered another crash during Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix, marking a disappointing end to his second weekend in F1.

“I want to apologize again to the team,” Giovinazzi said. “They did a great job to get the car ready for the race. It was a shame that I crashed again today.

“A learning lesson – I just want to forget this weekend quickly.”

While Giovinazzi has not yet been confirmed as replacing Wehrlein for this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, it is thought unlikely that the German will have regained full fitness in time for the race, making a third start likely for the Ferrari youngster.

Antonio Giovinazzi apologizes to Sauber after China qualifying crash

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Antonio Giovinazzi has apologized to his Sauber team after crashing out of Formula 1 qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix on Saturday in Shanghai.

Giovinazzi made his F1 debut two weeks ago in Australia as a last-minute replacement for Pascal Wehrlein, who continued to struggle for fitness following his Race of Champions crash in January.

The Italian was one of the stand-out performers in Melbourne, almost reaching Q2 and finishing 12th in his first race for Sauber.

Giovinazzi was drafted in to replace Wehrlein again for this weekend’s race in China, and looked set to ease through to Q2 in qualifying before crashing out at the final corner, running wide at exit before careering sideways across the track and into the wall.

The shunt brought out yellow flags and ruined a number of drivers’ late qualifying laps, allowing Giovinazzi to make it through to Q2. While he could take no part in the session, Giovinazzi still qualified 15th.

“For me it was a disappointing ending to qualifying. It was all good until the last corner of my final lap,” Giovinazzi said.

“I was already in Q2 and improving my lap time, but I pushed a bit too much, touched the grass in the exit of the last corner and then lost the rear of the car.

“I apologize to the team for what happened. Tomorrow I will do my best to put in a good performance.”

The Chinese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 1am ET on Sunday.