F1 Winter Break
Finally! Giovinazzi to partner Raikkonen at Sauber in 2019
Posted By: Editor   |  25 Sep 2018   |  3:29 pm GMT  |  124 comments

The Sauber F1 team have confirmed that Ferrari junior driver Antonio Giovinazzi will be handed a race seat for the 2019 season alongside Kimi Raikkonen.

Following the promotion of fellow junior driver Charles Leclerc to the senior team, Ferrari have managed to place another of their academy drivers on the Formula One grid.

The 24-year-old has had to wait a long time for his chance; he is promoted from his test and reserve role to earn a full-time race seat, replacing Marcus Ericsson, who has been kept on as development driver and brand ambassador.

“I am delighted to be joining the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team. This is a dream come true, and it is a great pleasure to have the chance to race for this team,” said Giovinazzi.

“As an Italian, it is a huge honour for me to represent a brand as iconic and successful as Alfa Romeo in our sport. I would like to thank the Scuderia Ferrari and the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team for giving me this great opportunity. I am very motivated and cannot wait to start working towards achieving great results together.”

Under the terms of their partnership, Ferrari are able to place a junior driver at Sauber, which was part of the reason Leclerc was given an opportunity at the Swiss team.

Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur confirmed that Giovinazzi has in fact filled the seat allocated by Ferrari, which in turn confirms that the earlier Raikkonen deal was as a replacement for Marcus Ericsson.

“We are very pleased to reveal the complete driver line-up for the 2019 season. We first signed Kimi Räikkönen, an extremely experienced driver who will contribute to the development of our car and will accelerate the progress of our team as a whole,” said Vasseur.

“Together with Alfa Romeo, we are delighted to welcome Antonio Giovinazzi, who will take the place of Charles Leclerc. We have already had the opportunity to work with him in the past and he has proven to have great potential.”

Antonio Giovinazzi joined the Ferrari stable after finishing a close second to Pierre Gasly in his debut GP2 season in 2016, taking five wins in an impressive rookie year. This association with Ferrari earned him test and FP1 outings at both Sauber and Haas, who have strong links with the Italian team.

He made his Formula One debut as a stand-in for the injured Pascal Wehrlein at Sauber in the first two races of 2017, the Australian and Chinese Grands Prix.

However, his two-race stint at the team ended with crashes in the Chinese Grand Prix qualifying and race.

He has, however, been involved in extensive simulator work for Ferrari and impressed with his pace at the in-season test in Budapest earlier this year.

By: Luke Murphy

All images: Motorsport Images

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My ideal-world 2019 teams, not taking affiliations too seriously:
Merc: HAM-VER *
KUB=Kubicka, RUS=Russell, NOR=Norris, DEV=Nyck de Vries, KVY=Kvyat, *=especially juicy
And here’s what I think it’s going to be like:
Still interesting, but a pale shadow of what cuda been…


Your list is very similar to mine. Most importantly, no more “wingmen”. Today’s F1 cannot afford wingmen from a spectacle/entertainment point of view.


Getting rid of Ericcsson was long overdue. Giovinazzi made him look quite ordinary in the two occasions they raced together, like every other team mate Ericcsson had.

Evaluating the driver should not be a problem (not as McLaren habe). We could see how Kimi stacks up against a lot of drivers throughout his career (one could say that about Sainz too to some extend) and Giovinazzi already made clear he is faster than Ericcsson at Sauber (unlike Norris against Alonso or VanDoorne), even though a bit more erratic, so this is a guaranteed step up in driver quality and experience. Good move!


Good to see Antonio in a race seat next year, it will be purely driving practice before replacing Vettel in 2021.
I do see Ferrari getting 21 secret test days next year, all roughly 300 kms long, with their new secret test driver Mr K. Raikkonen.


Here’s an isea to spice up F1 and introduce some unpredictability. Imagine if F1, introduced an annual draft system and the drivers were a pool independent of any team. At the end of each season, the lowest placed team gets first pick, the second lowest team gets next pick, etc. The drivers would be paid their salaries by Liberty instead of the team they drove for; salary determined by the driver’s standing in the previous year WDC. In this scenario, we could see Lewis at Williams, still earning his 50 million or so, Seb back at TR or at Sauber, with Mercedes getting last pick on the 1st round, picking up Ocon or KMag. Then round 2 for the second drivers starting with Williams again. It would certainly help sort out the age old question of “Is it the driver or the car?” Can Lewis in a Williams still beat Sirotkin in a Mercedes? Financially, this is doable. Liberty reduces the team payouts based on WCC placing by X million dollars total and uses this money to pay the driver salaries. If MB received 80 or so million less but didn’t have to pay their drivers salaries, they end up in the same financial position.


It would certainly help sort out the age old question of “Is it the driver or the car?”

This question is long answered: It’s the car.

Apart from that there is a lot wrong with what you’re proposing. The drovers do not have any choice in making their career. They can be the best out there and the better they are, the lower their chances of getting the WDC in your system.

If you want to have a draft, then you can only have a draft from foreign series, like F2, Indy Car, WEC, WRC, etc. to F1.


You twisted little puppy. That is a crazy idea. . . . . . but I like it.


I wish Ferrari would have “placed” Räikkönen at Haas,

if they indeed have the power to do that.


I’ll be honest, I kind of wanted to see Ericsson stay at Sauber so we could see Kimi against a known benchmark. Good to see a new driver on the grid though.


Maybe that’s why Kimi signed on. He wanted his own #2!


I fully expect him to whip Kimi’s butt.


Sauber will have two drivers in 2019 that have driven considerably better car, real or simulated, than current Sauber so there should be some knowledge on the driver side how to improve the Sauber car once they start working on it. Kimi is apparently going to drive the Sauber in the tyre tests after the Mexican GP so he can tell the engineers what’s wrong with the car.


Kimi is apparently going to drive the Sauber in the tyre tests after the Mexican GP so he can tell the engineers what’s wrong with the car.

We already know that: Front axle feel. It’s always the front axle with Kimi. So expect to change the power steering, Sauber folks!


During his years at Sauber, mr Ericsson has achieved ….nothing. A nice guy and perhaps a decent driver, but definitely not a top F1 driver or even test and development driver. Let’s hope he concentrate on the ambassador role and leave the driving to those who knows what deveopment is. Deadwood is a too nice title for his role in a modern team.


I have also read Wehrlein could be ready to go at Toro Rosso – I haven’t don’t know much about him except that he brought Sauber 6 points, the only points while he was around, but also that he was a little hard to work with? Glad to see him come back as he seems faster and much less error prone than Grojoan, Hartley, Sirotkin and Stroll. Too bad for Ocon – what a pity. What irony.


The deadwood is being reduced. Raikonnen at least will not be blocking a top team seat, Vandoorne is probably gone, and Ericsson is gone.

Still to cull – Grosjean (sporadic pace, and stupid errors over many years), Sirotkin (plain slow), Hartley (super slow), and of course Stroll but he’s safe due to his dad’s money. So five seats theoretically available at Williams, Torro Rosso and Haas for Ocon, Russell, Kubica, Kvyat, and possibly Wehrlein. Make it happen teams and Liberty please.

Worst case scenario is Sirotkin, Grosjean, and Hartley retaining their seats. 🙁

A lot of new young drivers that may impress or fall by the wayside. I’m looking forward to the new batch in 2019. Don’t let it stagnate like before, one year contracts for those who have to prove themselves.


So sad Stroll had a team bought for him to drive in, because he’s mediocre F1 driver, as we could clearly see, even Sirotkin made him look ordinary as a total newcomer. Nonetheless, I think replacing Sirotkin with Ocon and Hartley with Wehrlein would probably a good change. But money talks and Williams have their back against the wall and need the Russian money, so we won’t see that happening. And since RedBull have their own junior program, we’d rather see Kwyat return than Wehrlein replacing Hartley.


Paul, could not disagree more.

Haas have to keep Grosjean. He has the pace. Keeps out qualifying K Mag. OK, so he stuffed them for points this year. He’ll learn… Lewis had an awful year in 2011. Button was rated more highly at the end of the year.

Sirotkin and Hartley have hardly had a chance. Sergey beat Robert K fair and almost square for the seat this year. Although, I do hope they put Robert in the other seat.

Russell can wait, and teams don’t seem too keen on Mercedes backed drivers. Certainly can’t see George or Pascal W in F India, maybe Williams as a long shot.

Ocon must get a seat. Tragedy if he is without a drive. Personally, I would keep him at FI and let Perez go.

Probably the clock is ticking for D Kvyat and P Wehrlein. Each year they are without a drive, the less chance they have of getting one. Won’t be the first or last time….

Stroll needs a good chance too. He is no slouch. Neither is Vandoorne.

So, 8 seats at Williams, F India, T Rosso and Haas.

Williams – Kubica, Sirotkin
F India – Ocon, Stroll
T Rosso – Vandoorne, Hartley
Haas – Grosjean, Perez


Agree and disagree! I think Grosjean has pace, he’s had an up and down season though admittedly. Stroll, much as I don’t care for him, absolutely dominated Euro F3 as a 17 year old so clearly has some pace (George Russell was in that field too and came 3rd, both in their second seasons of the championship). Sirotkin maybe you could argue hasn’t had a chance to show anything in that car, whereas Hartley has had a chance and compares so poorly with Gasly that no one could really argue he deserves a seat next year.


No mention of Bottas despite the gap between him and Hamilton getting ever wider race by race.


NickH. Valterri is currently on 60% of Lewis’ points, which I grant you is not good. Factor in that lost win at Baku, and the imperious form of Hamilton this season, and you can see why he has slipped from last years 84%.

Contrast this with Raikkonen’s percentages against his team mate and we see that Kimi was on 64% last year and is currently on 72% of Seb’s total. This seems an impressive upturn from last years poor showing until we look at Seb’s form this season…..


Quoting TimW

P.S By any measure (other than the rather blunt instrument of the championship table) Lewis was superior to Nico n 2016.

Amazing the table is good when proving your point and not when trying to show Hamilton was better in 2016 despite losing the WDC.


Tomx. I guess that yet again you are referring to 2007? You seem to have a bit of an obsession with those eleven year old events! If the two drivers in the same team have the same equipment and the same, or similar reliability issues, then yes the championship table is useful, but the reason I describe it as a ‘blunt instrument’ is that it doesn’t take all factors into account. The championship table tells us for instance, that Rosberg was thr better Merc driver in the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix, as he scored 15 points, and Lewis scored none. Those of us who watched the race would take a different view though, wouldn’t we?



I am surprised by your “change of heart” and strong defense of Bottas, because he has had 3 good races this season (Bahrain, Baku and China) which is only 2 as per you (because you were the only person in the world who believed that Hamilton was the faster driver in Bahrain)…

“Factor in that lost win at Baku” – Kimi has had more retirements than Bottas and in the races he has finished has only been off the podium 2 times (same as Hamilton) while Bottas has finished 7 races off the podium… [ Factor that in and maybe Kimi is at 95% of Vettel, just as you did in 2016; when some guy named Hamilton only lost the championship because he had more retirements that Rosberg but was “apparently” the better driver 😉 ]

Since the French G.P. he has not even had one good race. – “Loses interest after signing”, “is not there to defend Hamilton”, “consistently off the pace”, all the charges that have been applied to Kimi are equally applicable to Bottas.

” we look at Seb’s form this season” – Hamilton’s sublime form has actually shielded Bottas’ poor run because he has not even done enough as a wingman ( because Hamilton has not actually needed one), but the same will always not be true.

Bottas has finished 2 races ahead of Vettel this season ( 1 was Italy where Vettel had a penalty) which is nearly the same as Kimi (1 – China where he finished ahead of Hamilton)

In crunch races, Mercedes might regret signing the driver managed by their Team Principal…

THE BIGGEST SURPRISE for me is that Hamilton fans have been ok with this. Vettel / Ferrari fans have always been vocal on Kimi’s off days as it is costly but Hamilton/Mercedes fans seem to accept Bottas despite his costly qualifying mistakes costing wins in Australia, Silverstone, or not trying for the win in Bahrain.


Valterri has been close to Lewis more times than Kimi has to Seb.

Wrong Tim, have you even watched the last 6 or so races.


Manonwheels. Actually Valterri had Felipe beat hands down while they were team mates, three nil in both races and qualifying.

The final championship positions were, 4th and 7th in 2014, 5th and 6th in 2015 and 8th and 11th in 2016.

The quali head to heads were, 13:6, 11:8 and 17:4.


Ashish. I was just making the point that Valterri isn’t having a great season, but he did a lot better last year. It should also be noted that the season isn’t over yet. My view is that Bottas is a better driver than Raikkonen (the 2018 version), and while neither man has the necessary talent level to match their team mates, Valterri has been close to Lewis more times than Kimi has to Seb. I would also say that I would prefer to see Ocon in that car, but can see why they went with Valterri instead.


“Neither of these records are that great in my view” – Isn’t that Nick’s point. An equally undeserving candidate as “Kimi blocking a Top Seat.” on PaulD’s cull list.

Even by your assist metric ( 7 to Bottas; 6 to Kimi), Bottas is having a season just as-good-as a 40 year old Kimi. Now that he is blocking Ocon; he is the next logical contender for the Cull List .

From my-point-of-view -> I actually see the merit of Mercedes signing Bottas, because Hamilton is driving beautifully and is at his best without intra-team politics. I see the signing of Bottas just for “character” and “team-player” as Toto keeps saying, even though it blocks a Top Seat, and people who do not like No. 2 drivers might disagree.


Let’s face it: Bottas has had a hard time against old Massa, the old man beat him quite regularly by about 2 tenths of a second.

We know that Massa was on par with Räikkönen in his early years, we know Räikkönen is usually a tad slower than Vettel, we know Massa was a tad slower than Schumacher. We know that Massa made Stroll look bad.

So if Massa and Räikkönen are among the 2nd best drivers in F1, then Bottas and Stroll are just among the 3rd or lower.

And it shows: Hamilton, someone who is on par with the greatest, as much I dislike the fact, beats the hell out of Bottas, just as Alonso destroys VanDoorne.

Mercedes needed a wing man and they didn’t trust their own junior programme (Wehrlein), who made Ericcsson look bad at Sauber and was about as fast as Ocon before. They even signed Bottas again, instead of going for Ocon who had just proven against Perez that he is one quick driver and about as fast as Perez. Perez is about as quick as Hülkenberg and Perez got pretty close to Button, who was one of the few to be able to hold a candle to Alonso.

I can’t see how it is a sane decision to favor Bottas over Ocon, but what do I know?


Ashish, I should also point out that Toto is no longer Valterri’s manager, and there was noone better available at such short notice.


Ashish. We had a very long discussion at the time of the Azerbaijan GP about who was the quicker driver, and I see no reason to go back over it, but I would doubt very much that I’m the only one who thought that Lewis was the quicker of the two Merc drivers that weekend. This shouldn’t take anything away from Valterri’s performance in that race, the fact that there was a discussion at all tells us it was close between them, and this is a good thing for Valterri.

Surely the job of both Raikkonen and Bottas is to be close to, or ahead of their illustrious team mates? In my view Valterri has achieved this on seven occasions this season, and Kimi six. Neither of these records are that great in my view, which was kind of the point of my original comment, I’m not trying to defend Bottas, just pointing out that he is capable of doing a good job, as he did last season. NickH’s original comment seemed to me to suggest that Valterri should have been on PaulD’s ‘cull list’, I disagreed with that, and knowing Nick’s fondness of Kimi, used him as a comparison.

My view of Valterri is that he clearly isn’t on the level of the very top drivers, but he isn’t terrible either.

P.S By any measure (other than the rather blunt instrument of the championship table) Lewis was superior to Nico n 2016.


Kimi’s had 3 dnfs too and none of them were his fault.

Looking more at their recent performance, Bottas seems to lose his way around half way through the season. Same last year. He’s started both seasons with Mercedes pretty well but loses performance around mid season. Maybe he’s not very good adapting to the upgrades.

Kimi is 38 and has overall been the quicker no.2 since Silverstone.


NickH. You could say that if you wanted, wouldn’t be much point though. As I keep saying, Valterri has not had a great season so far, but he has it in him to be closer to Lewis than he currently is, as he showed last season.


guess the only thing you could say is that Valterri is ten years younger than Kimi, and still has time to improve, Kimi not so much.

Lol I guess you could if you’re really trying to put some positive spin on Bottas’ poor performances!

You could also say Bottas in his prime years is slower than a past his best Kimi.


NickH, I hardly think one year is enough data for us to pick out any parterns, Bottas could win on Sunday in Russia, just as he did last year. Overall this season I think we can see that both Kimi and Valterri have been outclassed by their respective team mates, and I don’t see a huge difference in their performances. I guess the only thing you could say is that Valterri is ten years younger than Kimi, and still has time to improve, Kimi not so much.


Sebee, you aren’t the first to come up with the amazing prediction that Valterri will go well in Russia, just as he always does……


That’s it. You’ve done it.

Your doubts in Botta means it is time for Mercedes to reaffirm him as worthy Mercedes seat occupant this weekend.


søren christensen

Really good news coming lately with “older” drivers changing teams, and new faces coming in for, potentially, good teams.

GIO will learn from an experienced team mate like Raikkonen. Now we just wait for Wehrlein and Kvyat to be confirmed at TR, plus of course the pair of (same) Haas drivers. Force India is a given decision, I suppose. Team Willy: Money counts, that will be at least 1 Russian, and hopefully Ocon, if Wolff pays up. Then in 20, Ocon will go to Mercedes proper

Exciting season ahead!!


Not sad to see the back of Ericsson but this is just one pay driver being replaced by another. Ferrari are writting the cheques and without their money he would not be there.

Don’t get me wrong. I am glad this young talent is getting a chance in a team that is on the move up the grid. But the current team sponsorship system is weakening the grid. Ocon ( currently) out of a drive because he is linked to the wrong management team.

Whilst we have a shortage of seats in F1 then perhaps the F2 rules need to be loosened or another series for F2 champions and ex F1 racers needs to be established. Just loosing young talent to rally / touring cars or across the pond is not the answer.


Getting backed by a manufacturer on merit (like Giovinazzi) and getting backed by independently wealthy backers regardless of talent (like Ericsson) is not the same,


Tomx, if we include everyone on a team’s young driver programme, then surely they are all ‘pay drivers’?!



Cast by manufacturers to sell their goods to us sheeple!


I think that when a team has a driver programme and puts that driver in their car then that is a natural progression. When they subsidise another team in order to place that driver then it is no different to any other pay driver.

Now I do not think the pay driver thing is all bad. Just because a guy gets picked up by an oil company rather than a car company does not make him a lesser driver. However in the current F1 climate money seems to be talking above talent and Ericsson definately sat in that seat too long.


Tom. Giovinazzi is on the Ferrari programme because of his talent level. Ericsson was backed by the Longbow guys because of his nationality, a clear distinction.


Tomx. A pay driver is one who is only in F1 because of the budget he brings, so Ericsson, Maldonado etc. The other guys you mention are or were in F1 on talent alone. Michael paid for his first test, but quickly became a paid driver, rather than a paying driver.


TimW. Not all pay drivers are as bad as you are making out. Schumi paid £150k for the one drive at Jordan ( used Merc money) Alonso ( pay driver) Even your favourite wingman took a load of sponsorship money with him when he moved to Mercedes. The list of drivers who are putting money into a team is far greater than many would believe.


Ferrari has a B team of sorts in Sauber now. Mercedes has got to act soon or they might be left behind in the youth Development programme.



I doubt that.

Mercedes are in more programmes than Ferrari.


Good for Giovinazzi to get a seat but Raikkonen is no Ericsson.

It’s going to be harder looking good against a World Champion team mate than it was for Leclerc against a solid but rather unspectacular driver.

Kimi still has good days. Monza being the lastest example.


Here’s a question? Why not Ocon? Isn’t he a better driver than Giovinazzi?


May be because he again take orders from wolf 😀


Ocon’s issue is that he is part of the Mercedes driver programme and so therefore driving a Ferrari powered car is never going to happen.

I really hope they find a slot for him somewhere on the grid though, such a shame to not have him competing.


Why nurture a Mercedes talent?


Sauber will definitely be a team to keep a close eye on in ’19. In fact the ’19 season will feature many different driver/team combos than there has been for quite some time….that can only be good. However on the downside i see nothing to suggest that the domination of the series by the two [ current ] top teams will alter greatly therefore rendering a slightly varied [ one Ferrari driver ] of the same old same old.


Yup. I say Sauber podium in 2019.



Congrats Giovinazzi and Leclerc.
I see hear the 2019 radio now…
Kimi/Gio… Vettel/Leclerc are faster than you. Do you understand?
Kimi..you have to tell me what you want.


Kimi & Antonio are such a great PR duo for Sauber. Hopefully a timely reminder for Williams to place Kubica, that would be a story we would all enjoy next year.


Congratulations to Anto Giovinazzi! A great opportunity. Hard to get a reading on how good he is; his professional and efficient approach impressed me in GP2 and his F1 debut in Australia was also strong. On the other hand, China was not so impressive and I did think he had the rub of the green in GP2 more than his main rivals (Gasly and Sirotkin in particular).

I think he’s got potential, and the right attitude, though and I think this is best for Sauber. I like Marcus Ericsson but I think Kimi Raikkonen could probably have beaten him at 90%, which may have encouraged him to leave something in the tank. Giovinazzi, one hopes, will be able to push Raikkonen harder than that and, if this is self-perpetuating (Giovinazzi pushing Raikkonen who pushes Giovinazzi etc.), then Sauber should have a decent 2019 season if the new car is good.


I wonder if we’ll see Vasseur take over from Arrivo next year if the Ferrari Project stalls… Then Arrivo and Vettel can be re-united with Kimi at Sauber for 2020. Won’t that be nice.

Just an idle thought….


The latest rumurs from Maranello suggest that it was Arrivo’s idea all along. That is to keep the trio intact. But with Seb as ambassador, and promote road rage, sorry work against it, or at least talk about it. Todt is happy also, why we dont know

Another intriguing thing is that right after the signing of LeClerc there was also a signing of the decision to withdraw Ferrari from all F1 activity. There was to much dumbing-down going on the thinking was at the time. so that leaves only Sauber, no Alfa Romeo that is as the only F1 involvement of FCA.

They are now looking further into what other interested parties along the years may have wished for to happen, or even signed for. A lot of papers are been scrutinized as we speak

Tornillo Amarillo

Now Toto, name Ocon 3rd driver, sim driver, no driver, ambassador and an important part of the Merc team for 2019.


Nothing to do with talent, everything to do with Ferrari taking a stronger grip on the F1 Grid.


Right, Giovinazzi, at his GP2 debut, won more race than Gasly (with 2 years GP2 experience), with the same car, cause he have no talent, right?.


What I will miss about Ericsson is that deep baritone voice of his that made our windows rattle when he answered interviews.

I would love to hear him sing that song Lee Marvin sang in some movie, “I was born under a wandering star.”

But He had no other similarities with Lee Marvin that I can think of.


Sauber F1 is going to be a pretty good little team. It will be interesting to see Kimi in a non-political, racing focused environment let by Fred Vassuer, they fit very well together. I think he will do great things.

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