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Super sub: Sauber praises Antonio Giovinazzi’s stunning F1 debut
Posted By: Editor   |  29 Mar 2017   |  8:44 pm GMT  |  55 comments

Sauber boss Monisha Kaltenborn has paid tribute to super sub Antonio Giovinazzi, describing the Italian’s surprise Formula 1 debut at last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix as “very impressive”.

And Italian sports paper La Gazetta Dello Sport reports that the 23 year old will drive again in China, although this has not been announced.

Giovinazzi, who is Ferrari’s official reserve driver for the 2017 season, would be allowed to continue in that role in rookie tests, as long as he has not completed more than two Grands Prix. But this is a real career boost for the talented youngster.

He was called up to replace Pascal Wehrlein for the race in Melbourne after the German driver felt he would not able to compete at a satisfactory level during the grand prix after his winter training regime was interrupted by the back injury he suffered at the Race of Champions event in January.

Despite only having FP3 to prepare for qualifying, Giovinazzi was ahead of teammate Marcus Ericsson before the final run in Q1 and only 0.2s away from making it through to Q2, which he may have done had he not made a mistake at the penultimate corner on his final flying lap. In the race, he started 16th and eventually finished 12th in the attritional event at Albert Park.

Antonio Giovinazzi

Giovinazzi started on the soft tyres as part of Sauber’s plan to split its drivers’ strategies, as Marcus Ericsson started on the supersofts. The team hoped this would lead to one of its cars holding several rivals behind it due to the difficulties of overtaking at Albert Park, which would allow the sister car to move up as those cars came in earlier.

Ericsson’s race was ruined by a first lap clash with Haas F1’s Kevin Magnussen and ultimately ended by a hydraulic problem, while Giovinazzi lamented taking it easy on his tyres, which was the approach he was used too after finishing as runner-up in GP2 in 2016.

He said: “I was taking it easier in the beginning of the run, because in GP2 with super-soft it was possible to only do seven or eight laps and then you need to box.

“I took it really easy, just to understand the tyres and understand the car.”

Monisha Kaltenborn

But Kaltenborn was delighted with the 23-year-old’s performance and highlighted his lack of preparation before qualifying as reason to be impressed with his result.

Speaking to Autosport, she said: “It definitely surprised us because it’s his first race. Yes he’s been testing, done things like the Pirelli test for Ferrari, but that’s not the kind of testing that other people have been doing. It’s not like this level of motorsport, so it was very impressive.

“He’s had one free practice, one hour, and did a very good qualifying and the race was not an easy one because he had flat-spotted his tyres and the car was not easy to drive. He showed the potential the car has despite all these difficulties.”

Wehrlein planning to race in China

Wehrlein, who been set to take part in his race with Sauber after leaving the now-defunct Manor team over the winter, is planning to drive in the next event, the Chinese Grand Prix on 9 April.

Pascal Wehrlein

The 22-year-old explained that he would focus on training hard at home in Europe after returning from Australia, but could not say for certain that he would start the race in Shanghai.

He said: “I’ve been in the car for four days now [including testing] and I’ve been feeling better every day. Next week I will continue to improve.

“I’m going to train hard in Europe next week, and I’ll be back in the car in China on Friday. Then we’ll see.”

One hit wonders

If Wehrlein does make a full return to the cockpit of his C36 in China and Giovinazzi does not start another F1 race in his career, then the Italian will join the ranks of the166 drivers who have just a single grand prix start on their record.

In recent years, drivers that have joined that list include Stéphane Sarrazin, who made one race appearance for Minardi in 1999, and Markus Winkelhock, who famously led the only F1 race he started in his F1 career at the rain-hit European Grand Prix in 2007.

Andre Lotterer

The most recent driver to make a one-off F1 appearance was World Endurance Championship star André Lotterer, who started the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix for Caterham, but retired on the first lap due to an electrical issue.

What did you make of Giovinazzi’s performance in the Australian Grand Prix? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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I feel sorry for Wehrlein being injured, but am also chuffed to bits for Giovi. Very impressed and I hope the rumours are true he’ll be racing in China.


Wehrlein (Mercedes protege) and Giovinazzi, (Ferrari protege) -nice little fight there. I`m not surprized if Ferrari want few more races for Giovinazzi after strong showing in Australia.
“Nein, nein, nein!” says Wolff.
“Naturalmente!” says capo.


Pay drivers make a joke of F1. Imagine a kid who’s a pretty good football player, but pretty good is the operative word(s) here. Mama and daddy are rich and buy him a spot playing for Manchester United. It’s unthinkable.

Also, many comments refer to ‘B’ teams like Haas and Sauber. If Williams were really in the hunt to win it all, would they go on a money hunt with Strolls? Only two drivers could win it all last year. This year it might still be two. One could argue three or four. The rest are just there to fill up the track. The FIA should have fixed this 20 years ago. Imagine a race where fifteen drivers could possibly win.

Finally there is the time issue. In M.S.’s day teams could practice and test all they wanted, and Michael did. Today young drivers are lucky to get ten laps before they race. Some are quick starters, other potentially excellent drivers need time to develop. Now this is not possible. But then we have Palmer. Is he a pay driver? I don’t know. Here’s a question. How many pay drivers are there on the grid?

Good luck to Giovinazzi.


Well done Antonio. Now if only some teams would take the clue and do as Red Bull did with their pilot lineup.

Wollf could care less with his choice in driver , he had every option to bring on Pascal. He did not.

Now Williams and their ridiculous line up. I would like to ask Claire when can she formally sack Stroll and keep his donation? Where have all the racers gone?


@toe clipper
To this point Red Bull does not sell cars. Interesting is the fact that Red Bull was accused for being just a drink company and they are the insult to real racing. Now it seems they are the only ones who think about racing and not so much about the image to sell their product.

Mercedes and Ferrari worry first about their image and that is why they can not implement two top drivers who would override team order. Wolff looks to me already more of a shopkeeper than a head of a racing team. Problem is corporate mentality can not be left aside when the aim to sell something. Money is power and it was very sad to see Bottas taken away from Williams like to take a candy from a child. Once Williams was a proper team famous leaving aside drivers who arrogantly drived for money. Bottas was ahead of Massa last year in points, and Williams gave away their lead driver, leaving them in very serious situation – they were just run over by big corporation!
Doing this to one of the most respected team in F1 history makes you wonder to what extent they can go to have their way?

My point is – we are long past the situation where F1 was about racing. Corporate agendas shape the world of F1 nowadays, and when racing comes with it, super!


F1 is about racing. It will always be bigger than an American media outlet selling apps. Mr, Lauda was appointed along side Wolff for a reason, to make sure one does not act too much like a “shop keeper ” and to have a link to the past.

Knowing Sergio a bit better from my old days in Toronto, he’s an accountant and lawyer at times but he’s a racer at heart. Not the best dressed but he will stop at little to keep Ferrari true to its roots,…racing.

Lets not mistake sponsorship of racing teams with promotion and advertising for the fellow who just paid a few billion and needs to find ways of generating dividends. They are not always the same thing.

F1 will eventually eat and spit out most of these new characters, along with some of the current team managers who have forgotten what they are doing there.

Does F1 really need Nicole and Justin to waltz around? No. Its always had its share of glamour, it always will, what it needs is cars that sound like racing machines not sewing machines with fat tires, it needs team managers who are not afraid of taking on the best new drivers in the world even if they don’t have a cheque book.

My point is I have never purchased a RedBull drink can, yet I am a fan of what Dietrich has done. He’s a racer, he knows what F1 needs. He’s the one to watch because when he calls it quits, then many may follow and so will the real power of F1, its fans, all around the world.


Representation! The smile you see doesn`t belong to the face.
Maybe impenetrable? – Dietrich is visionary.

Putting trompets in cars a%%, doesn´t make them look like more racing cars. This V10 or V8 agenda is just dead end. To talk to sence to people longing good old times go with explaining evolution and this is not really my job. F1 will spit them out finally anyway.

F1 desperatly need someone else than Mercedes winning?! – utter nonsense. Let the best win. If regulations lock the winner for years and it is very hard to make it look like racing, it is time to change the attitude. It is inevitable! Corporations will always bread out the competition. This is their sole purpose. Small teams can buy these very expensive PUs but even the best PU can do nothing without proper supportive systems. Problem is there are many systems to develope and finally this arms race will kill all but the big corporations.

It is starting to look like Liberty Media purchased a dead horse.


I have to say I find the Wehrlein thing a bit strange too. I know Martin Brundle can be a bit old school and “oooooh back in my day” but he made a very good point, he should have needed to be dragged kicking and screaming out of the car, or be physically incapable of getting in it, why give someone the opportunity to outshine you? Bit of Ferrari string pulling I wonder?


Brundle did make a good point. And remember this is the same guy (Wehrlein) that refused to turn off his Manor even though the team repeatedly told him to. I thought that spoke volumes about his attitude, and was surprised any team would give him a drive after that.


Guys one race but yes he did good. I think when alonso leaves mclaren he should slide right in.


Don’t forget Pascal Wehrlein was responsible for setting up the car before deciding he couldn’t race. Until Wehrlein has a race, he shouldn’t be written off as being fortunate to be helped by Mercedes. Not forgetting that Wehrlein’s accident at the ROC was particularly stupid.

soren christensen

Wehrlein looks more and more out of his depths in F1 – no matter for what reasons. He states lack of fitness etc., but in reality I think it has to do with attitude. We saw it already several times last year. After living in comfort with MB in their Junior programmes since many years, he entered F1 with a smug and arrogant self belief, which really does not fit in with his abilities. Mercedes noticed this, so they dumped/parked him at Sauber. Now it seems Wehrlein is on they way out of that team too.
Giovinazzi is a fresh fighter, who will have a great F1 future. Anyone, who has witnessed the great races, he has had in GP2, will agree to that. He has not enjoyed the benefits of large sponsors or factories to support him on the ladder up, but has come up, purely through merit and talent.
Mark my words: We will soon have GIO as an stablished F1 driver at Sauber.
Maybe even as early as 2018 in a Ferrari – OR, if Magnussen does not get his act together, at Haas.
Wehrlein will end up on the scrapheap of also rans, who did not make it in F1


The lad certainly accomplished all that was asked of him…very well done considering what he was tasked with and at such short notice. The current cars have been described as being beasts to drive and unless you have the strength of a raging Toledo bull and the combined experience of Senna/Shumacher you’ll struggle to finish a race! Apparently that is a crock of ‘merde. Yes Giovinazzi has some experience and he’s trained himself to be fit but here the lad just jumped into the car and did the business. Again, well done. Oh Oh Antonio….


If you ask me – Wehrlein out permanently and Giovinazzi in for the season. Is it just me , or not, but Wehrlein comes across as a bit of an arrogant so an so who does not appear to be genuine. And for someone in his position of being in a backmarker team, he is acting”above his station” so to speak. Plus he has been in F1 for a whole season and what has he REALLY done?? Obviously the Merc money is holding him there because if it was talent alone – given past driver shenanigans, he would have been ditched already.!!


It was an impressive debut.
Not trying to take anything away from him, but I think Martin Brundle once said that if the experienced and novice drivers perform similarly that means they are both being constrained by the car.


Possibly but not necessarily . I just think Giovinazzi did good job.


This is a future Ferrari driver.
I’m still not unconvinced that the fix is in for Giovinazzi to drive with Sauber in 2017, as indicated immediately following Wehrlein’s accident (was it RoCs), and re-ranted on these hallowed pages, several times since.
Because Sauber is a Ferrari team, and they probably don’t like one of their teams with a full-in Mercdes driver, driving, and especially while they have a future star on the shelf in their development program!
That’s why, common sense.
Great job by Giovinazzi; and thank you for doing an article on it, because it is well-deserved.


he had flat-spotted his tyres and the car was not easy to drive. He showed the potential the car has despite all these difficulties.”

Kaltenborn says.

I look at that as another example of the talent the kid has more so than that of the car. After the mature performance we saw from Giovinazzi on the weekend I wonder if anyone in the team is wondering if a paring of Wehrlien and Gio is more likely to increase their chances of points instead of Ericsson and Pascal?
Certainly would be more exciting from my perspective, Ferrari and Merc juniors going head to head, in lieu of watching Marcus stumble his way through another season.


As far as I know, some of Sauber’s funding/ownership structure is connected to Ericsson’s presence in the car – but I agree he hasn’t done much to stand out as a future world champion so far.


I don’t think Marcus is a great driver – after all Gio almost outqualified him but of course Marcus’ backers are the main investors so Sauber will have to keep him – forever! I’m guessing that Pascal will expose him as tie goes on.


He was no Gilles Villeneuve in a McLaren at Silverstone.


He was very impressive jumping in at the last minute & definitely one to watch very closely as an upcoming star. It just shows what Ferrari think of him to get him as a reserve driver & part of their driver program. Great that Sauber gave him a shot with the Ferrari connection helping.

Issue is that he needs a full time seat in an F1 car for the whole championship season to gain more experience & that won’t happen as a reserve driver. Am sure Ferrari have got plans for him to race with them. Not many drivers will pull out during the season so it’ll be very difficult to get that very much needed race experience. He will only get a proper opportunity if there is a change of driver throughout the season (e.g.. Haryanto & Ocon) that wish to engage his services otherwise it may be next year that he can get offered a permanent seat & be loaned out by Ferrari to a smaller team. It’s a shame that such talent be wasted sitting on the sidelines – perhaps he’ll now attract a bigger sponsor. I question Pascal’s ability as an F1 driver as I still haven’t seen anything special from him. Haryanto would even be quicker than him on some occassions in his first year & Ocon was picked up by Force India. Am not sure he is F1 material.

With F2 now being the supportive category of F1 & GP3 (F3) hopefully to follow, one hopes that they will provide a proper ladder for advancement into F1 based upon talent & merit rather than how many dollars you have to buy an F1 seat which is currently the issue. The smaller teams though will still need dollars from anywhere they can get it to remain active in the category so I don’t think buying an F1 seat will be eliminated completely.

Tornillo Amarillo

Bravo Giovinazzi, he did well, why he cannot go to Haas next year?

He did good like Vandoorne last year, so he can stay as a reserve driver as well this year, and next as a driver in Sauber or Haas.

Some drivers like Palmer, Magnussen are not doing well really, so he should stay put and wait his turn. Because he is from Ferrari and from Italy, you know.

But next time maybe he will remain behind Grosjean, Stroll, Alonso, etc. and to finish P18 should not be so interesting. So he got some results this time because it was the first GP of the year and in a boring Albert Park.


Good chance to replace Kimi next year


Nice to see talent rise , well done , Giovinazzi & Sauber


Palmer Out; Giovinazzi In = better racing, less crashing


So predictable!

Giovanazzi did a stunning job and that will not have been his last appearance. How about Magnussen out, Giovanazzi in? Ferrari’s B team after all.


Palmer needs more time, as do both Giovinazzi and Wehrlein. Status quo until more is known about each.


Jolyon must be the least deserving driver on the grid. While not abysmal, this is the pinnacle, and he’s not there. His attitude is also a joke, watching him shred his team in interviews can’t be winning him any support at the factory.


Well said.

Fulveo Ballabeo

Stroll Out; Giovinazzi In = a lot better racing, a lot less crashing.

But, alas, also A LOT less cheque-book.

It’s a travesty that a ‘racer’ like Giovinazzi could even be referenced as a potential one-hit wonder, while a ‘driver’ like Stroll could be around for years.


Markus Winkelhock – one hit wonder extraordinaire.

Things that happened only once in F1 history – a list. That would be a good read.


God I forgot about him, and Spyker too for that matter!


I forgot about Spyker too – but I will remember Markus’ race for a long time. What a fairy tale start (and end!) to his F1 career.


There was a site devoted to it!
It was called “Formula One Rejects”.
It was a great site, that I have promoted here for years.


How can we not expect to see Giovinazzi back in a F1 cockpit after his performance this weekend?

The kid had one practice session and was on the money pace-wise. He drove a mature race and, as far as I am concerned, really outclassed his considerably more experienced teammate over the course of two days.

One has to think he will most certainly have a ride in F1 next year. I think Ferrari would very much like to see a product of its driver farm- especially an Italian one- make it into a race seat in one of its cars. I think there isn’t much risk of Vettel leaving. Based on what we know about him and his background, he seems like a Ferrari lifer (whereas one would not get that impression from Alonso’s background for example)- and getting a win to open the season under a new set of regulations has to have him feeling pretty confident about their ability to come up with a championship car while he is there. So with a world champion at the wheel, I wonder if Ferrari may be earmarking Giovinazzi for a race seat within the next couple of years- perhaps loaning him out, maybe as an exchange for a 1-2 year solution. (Someone like Perez at Force India?)


I just hope all the so-called professional radio journalists learn how to pronounce his name.


I was also really impressed with the performance of Giovinazzi, with so little time to prepare and so much hanging on his one chance to shine, which he most emphatically did.
F1 has been short of Italians for far too long, but Ferrari seats are traditionally nightmares for Italian drivers due to the cauldron of pressure from the press and public there.
Despite this, he shone and I believe that most F1 fans would very much welcome his getting a drive. Much though I like Kiki, and worry about the corrosive effect of the Italian media, I think that he did more than enough to make people very happy to see him in red.


I reckon leave Wehrlein on the bench & promote Antonio now.

Wehrlein isn’t going to be in F1 too many years – he’s been overlooked by Merc & Renault (2 Factory teams), so that tells you he’s never getting a competitive seat anyway.


Furthermore, what are Williams doing??? Antonio would run rings around Stroll. Surely a billionaire’s son isn’t enough reason for a historical team like Williams. Money over talent!! Shame


Well put Paige. Also I thought it would be great for F1, Ferrari and Sauber to have an Italian at last.


@Paige – Do you not think an Italian driving for Ferrari is dangerous? Ferrari is like thier “national” team and the country reacts so emotionally to its results. Bad results may become too much for the young man to handle when he goes home each time.. While the general public may never recognise a Ferrari team member publicly.. an Italian Ferrari driver roaming in Italy is as good being face of Ferrari itself. It will be too much for the young man possibly.


It would be a lot of pressure. Did Jean Alesi not say the pressure put on you by the Italian media and expectation was horrendous, and he was only half Italian!


But the flip side of that coin is that maybe he could become and Italian legend!

If you don’t push the boat out and all that…


See my comment about Villeneuve. Then, re-examine your comment.


I’m looking for it (your Villeneuve comment). Is it on Google Maps or something? ;a a;


gpfan – at least make the effort to write down the argument again and make it “bespoke” to what Paige said!


First of all, what credibility do you have as a source of information that substantiates quasi-formally representing a one-sentence post as f you are some authoritative figure on the subject whose opinions should be taken as equal to truth as if you’re a professor? Seriously, get over yourself.

Secondly, what, exactly, about your comment refutes anything I have said at all? Giovanazzi need not have put on a Gilles Villeneive type of display to have impressed, and he need not become Gilles Villeneuve in order to become a good F1 driver- or even a F1 driver at all, which is all I was claiming.

The next time you want refute someone, refute an argument they are actually making, give your argument substance, and don’t be so cocky about a superficial argument for sure.


I think he did an excellent job given the short notice and lack of preparation. I thought it was strange that Pascal didn’t race, he said he could have done the race but didn’t think he could perform at s high enough level and it wouldn’t be fair on the team to race in substandard condition, but was it fair on the team to throw Giovanazzi in at the deep end? I’m not usually one for conspiracy theories, but is something going on here? I always thought it strange that a Mercedes driver was racing for a Ferrari affiliated team, the fact that Ferrari’s best young driver ended up in the car seems suspicious to me.


I wonder how many other drivers would have been honest to them self and did what Pascal did.
If he still has pain and had the feeling that with the pain he would be slower than the replacement driver he did what was best for the team.
Everyone wishes to race, so did Pascal probably. Especially with the high chance that a lot of cars may run into technical problems and getting points=money having a great probability.


Seifenkistler, a good point, and if that is the case then he deserves credit, I just wonder if things are going on over his head, and he is just going along with it.


Ferrari and Mercedes don’t hate each other as much many people think they do. But I agree with you about the strange events took place, particularly so late. I don’t know about others, but I ranked Pascal pretty high in the past. Now the last weekend’s even is making me think otherwise.


No conspiracy here. Sauber runs Ferrari engines. They are a Ferrari customer. They are also probably sharing Giovanazzi with Haas as well.


Agreed – It wasn’t like Sauber was likely to challenge for points, so why not go out and give it a go?

To be honest, if I was Monisha:

“Hello, Mercedes? Don’t bother.” 😐
“Hello, Ferrari? We just had a seat open up.” 😀

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