Antonio Giovinazzi joins Ferrari F1 as third driver for 2017

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GP2 Series runner-up Antonio Giovinazzi will join Ferrari as its third driver for the 2017 Formula 1 season.

Giovinazzi, 22, moved up from Formula 3 to GP2 for 2016 with Prema Racing, and narrowly missed out on becoming the first rookie champion since Nico Hulkenberg in 2009, losing the title to Red Bull youngster Pierre Gasly.

Giovinazzi enjoyed no previous affiliation to any F1 team, but did spend a day in Ferrari’s simulator earlier this year, suggesting that a link-up could be on the cards.

During his pre-Christmas media lunch, Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne announced that Giovinazzi would be joining as the team’s third driver, before formal confirmation followed on Monday afternoon.

“Scuderia Ferrari announces that it has reached an agreement of cooperation with driver Antonio Giovinazzi,” a short statement issued by the team read.

“Following such agreement, Giovinazzi will take on the role of Third Driver of the Scuderia in the 2017 season.”

“We have not hired Giovinazzi to emulate Max Verstappen, who is a unique case,” Marchionne is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“We hired him because he is a very good driver and Ferrari need young people ready to go.”

Giovinazzi took part in the end-of-year GP2 test in Abu Dhabi earlier this month, suggesting that he could be set to remain in the series alongside his Ferrari commitments.

Ferrari also has youngsters Charles Leclerc and Antonio Fuoco on its books, both of whom will race in GP2 next year with Prema, Giovinazzi’s old team.