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.”