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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.

Michael Schumacher’s son to make F1 practice debut at Nurburgring

F1 Mick Schumacher
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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MARANELLO, Italy — Mick Schumacher, son of the legednary seven-time champion, will have an official Formula One drive during an F1 race weekend for the first time next week at the Nurburgring, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari said Tuesday.

Schumacher gets the practice drive in an Alfa Romeo on Oct. 9 on his home track in Germany as a member of Ferrari’s young driver program, taking over Antonio Giovinazzi’s car for the first session of the weekend.

“I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice,” Schumacher said in a statement. “I’m going to prepare myself well, so that I can do the best possible job for the team and gain some valuable data for the weekend.”

The 21-year-old Schumacher leads the Formula 2 standings after winning races in Monza and Sochi. He won the European Formula 3 championship in 2018 and tested a Ferrari F1 car in Bahrain in April 2019. He also has done demonstration runs in his father’s old cars, most recently this month ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in a championship-winning 2004 Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher holds the F1 record with 91 victories, which Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of tying.

Ferrari said two other drivers in its academy program will also get practice drives in Formula One.

Callum Ilott, a British driver who is second to Mick Schumacher in F2, will drive an F1 Haas at the Nurburgring on the same day as Schumacher. Russian driver Robert Shwartzman will drive in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Dec. 11, though Ferrari hasn’t said for which team.

The German round was added to the F1 schedule after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season and will be officially known as the Eifel Grand Prix after a nearby mountain range. The Nurburgring last hosted F1 in 2013.