Giovinazzi on overcoming mistakes, learning from Kimi and his Ferrari F1 dream's Lewis Larkam speaks to Alfa Romeo F1 driver Antonio Giovinazzi about learning from mistakes, being teammates with Kimi Raikkonen and his Ferrari dreams.
Giovinazzi on overcoming mistakes, learning from Kimi and his Ferrari F1 dream

Antonio Giovinazzi’s performances during the 2020 season went somewhat under the radar as Alfa Romeo struggled for competitiveness, but they were vital in securing the Italian’s place on the Formula 1 grid for another year. 

On paper, it may have seemed like there was little for Giovinazzi to shout about, as he managed a total of four points across the 17-round campaign. Nevertheless, it was a hugely important year of progression for the Italian, whose resilience and ability to improve has demonstrated enough to Alfa Romeo and backers Ferrari to warrant keeping him on for a third campaign. 

In an exclusive interview, we sat down with Giovinazzi virtually over Zoom at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to discuss his 2020 season, what it’s like to be teammates with Kimi Raikkonen, and his ultimate ambition of one day driving for Ferrari. 

On making progress amid a difficult season 

2020 did not go the way Alfa Romeo intended. Not only was Alfa hampered by the well-documented straight line speed deficit of its Ferrari engine, but it also faced aerodynamic issues with its C39 challenger that became apparent as early as pre-season testing.

While Alfa was able to hold onto its eighth place berth in the constructors’ championship - matching its 2019 result - points were hard to come by and it could only acquire eight points compared to its 57-point haul from the previous season. 

For much of 2020, it was a struggle for Alfa’s drivers to get out of the first segment of qualifying, but that was in no way a reflection of their respective qualities. Naturally, there were less high points and no repeat of the team’s fourth and fifth place finish at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix. Instead, three P9s and two P10s were the best that could be mustered.

A rare double points finish at Imola and qualifying at the Turkish Grand Prix - where Giovinazzi and Raikkonen impressively dragged their cars into Q3 as the team claimed top-10 grid slots with both cars for the first time since the 2019 Austrian GP at its 500th GP - acted as notable standout moments for Alfa. 

Giovinazzi on overcoming mistakes, learning from Kimi and his Ferrari F1 dream

Despite the team’s form slump, Giovinazzi continued to make impressive gains in both qualifying and the race to keep his experienced teammate Raikkonen, who is no slouch at 41, on his toes. Indeed, Giovinazzi ended the year beating Raikkonen nine to eight in the qualifying head-to-heads, as well as matching his points tally. 

With the 2021 season fast-approaching, Giovinazzi wants to have a stronger car to hit the ground running early, having already outlined an ambitious target of achieving his maiden podium finish

“Overall I’m really happy with the progress that I did during the season and especially compared to last season [2019],” Giovinazzi told 

“Of course I’m still young and I need to improve a lot more. Next season I want to do another step and hopefully, I can have a better car to fight more in front. 

“So, hopefully, we can have a better car next season and plus from my side do another step and have great results.”

On bouncing back from his mistakes 

Giovinazzi was on the receiving end of a thrashing from Raikkonen during a tough first half of his first full season in F1 in 2019, and just when it looked like he was set for a much-needed confidence boost, a mistake resulted in him crashing out of the points on the penultimate lap at Spa-Francorchamps. 

The self-inflicted error nearly cost Giovinazzi his drive, but he bounced back strongly at his home race at Monza next time out to score two points in ninth place and set up a stronger end to the campaign. 

Giovinazzi on overcoming mistakes, learning from Kimi and his Ferrari F1 dream

Giovinazzi credits his mistake at Spa as being crucial to his development. It taught him a valuable lesson in not giving up, and the importance of being able to recover from setbacks. And it is this mindset that has helped Giovinazzi “turn the page” - as he puts it - and ensure he does not make the same error twice. 

“Of course it was not a great race,” he conceded. “Well it was one of my best races until that moment. 

“The important thing is not to not do the mistakes, but the important thing is to learn from the mistakes, and this is what I did. I just turned the page, especially because after Spa I had a really important weekend with my first home grand prix at Monza. 

“I wanted to do well at that moment and I think I did the right fix, turn the page and have a great result in Monza. After that moment, you have your confidence going high because the result is good and this makes things a lot more easier.”

Giovinazzi’s reaction to the crash was impressive, and he was able to carry that new-found momentum and confidence into 2020 as he turned in a much stronger and consistent challenge to Raikkonen. 

Giovinazzi on overcoming mistakes, learning from Kimi and his Ferrari F1 dream

It was that form that earned him a fresh contract with Alfa, albeit only a one-year deal, leaving Giovinazzi once more heading into a new season knowing he is fighting to secure his place on the grid - although he is not daunted by that prospect. 

“I’ve always had pressure in my career,” he explained. “Nothing was easy for myself, I’ve always had to fight and everything and it’s like this.

“For most of the drivers it’s like that. You need to drive also with the pressure, that is part of the game here in Formula 1 and I’ve always said it’s an added motivation for fighting for the seat for the next season so I will also do that next year.” 

On having Kimi Raikkonen for a teammate 

As Raikkonen’s teammate, Giovinazzi is one of the few people that get a rare first-hand insight into the enigma that is F1’s ‘Iceman’. 

Giovinazzi already knew Raikkonen from his days as Ferrari’s development and test driver back in 2017 and enjoys a strong relationship with the Finn, something he believes is helping the team to push forward. 

As the most experienced driver of all time in F1 with 329 grand prix starts to his name (and counting), and with a world championship to boot, Giovinazzi says he has learned a massive amount from the former Ferrari driver, crediting much of his race day gains in 2020 from seeing where Raikkonen’s excels in race management. 

Giovinazzi on overcoming mistakes, learning from Kimi and his Ferrari F1 dream

“Now it’s been a few years with him and I’ve always had a good relationship with him,” Giovinazzi said. 

“I’m really happy with this and I think also for the team, it’s really important to have two drivers who have a good relationship and work well together. 

“I think I learn a lot of things from him, especially in the race because in the race Kimi is one of the best at managing the tyres, and managing the race in general. So I learn a lot of things from him and I’m really happy also to continue next season with him because I think I can still learn something from him. 

“In terms of performance, you need to look always at your teammate because in the end, he’s driving your car in the same team and the first driver that you want to beat is him,” he added. 

“So I’m happy to be his teammate because I think he is still one of the best on the grid, he’s a world champion driver with a lot of experience. So for me to be in front of him, to be fighting with him, it’s something important for my career and also for the people who watch F1. I’m really proud of this.”

On his dreams of driving for Ferrari 

Naturally, given his links to Ferrari and having ended an eight-year drought as the first Italian to race in F1 since Jarno Trulli and Vitantonio Luizzi in 2011, Giovinazzi has dreams of one day driving for the famous Maranello team.

Giovinazzi on overcoming mistakes, learning from Kimi and his Ferrari F1 dream

Giovinazzi was picked up on Ferrari’s radar during his brilliant rise through single-seaters, having finished runner-up in the 2015 European Formula 3 championship, before a narrow defeat by Pierre Gasly followed in the 2016 GP2 series. 

His impressive displays earned him a call up to become Ferrari’s third driver in 2017, and he has been on the Scuderia’s list of proteges ever since, seemingly with a path to the Prancing Horse in the future. 

But the rise of a new promising host of talents from the Ferrari Driver Academy - including reigning Formula 2 champion and new Haas F1 driver Mick Schumacher, test driver Callum Ilott, and F2 duo Robert Shwartzman and Marcus Armstrong - threaten to curtail Giovinazzi’s dream. 

While still relatively young in F1 terms at 27, Giovinazzi is made to look like a seasoned veteran in comparison to Ferrari’s new order, the oldest of which is six years his junior. Despite this, Giovinazzi is unfazed by the prospect of potentially getting jumped in the queue to land a Ferrari drive and remains focused on his dream. 

“Since I started my career, it was my dream,” said a smiling Giovinazzi. “Of course my main dream was to become a Formula 1 driver but maybe in the future with Ferrari, and it would be great. 

“It would be great like when I debuted for Alfa Romeo because I think Alfa Romeo is another important Italian brand with a lot of history in Formula 1. 

“I was really proud to do my debut with them and for any driver, for most of the drivers, the dream is to drive for Ferrari. This is also the same for myself. We will see what happens but for sure I will give it everything.”

Giovinazzi on overcoming mistakes, learning from Kimi and his Ferrari F1 dream

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