Kimi Raikkonen’s announcement earlier this week that he will retire from F1 at the end of the season has accelerated movement in the driver market and is likely to trigger a series of announcements in the coming days and weeks. 

George Russell is set to move to Mercedes to replace Valtteri Bottas, who in turn is widely tipped as the favourite to take the Alfa Romeo seat vacated by his compatriot Raikkonen. 

There are then the likes of ex-Red Bull racer Alex Albon, Formula E world champion Nyck de Vries and Alpine junior Guanyu Zhou, all of whom are bidding for the remaining F1 seats on the 2022 grid.

With Nicholas Latifi seemingly poised for a contract extension, Russell’s expected graduation to Mercedes would leave one seat free at Williams.

Meanwhile at Alfa Romeo, Giovinazzi is out of contract and his future remains uncertain. The Italian appears most at risk of losing out as a result of the driver merry-go-round amid conflicting reports and suggestions he could be dropped. 

Speaking on the eve of this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix, Giovinazzi admitted he still remains in the dark about his chances of staying with Alfa Romeo for a fourth campaign. 

“It’s clear, to convince Fred I need to still go faster, bring home some good results,” Giovinazzi replied when asked what he needs to do to convince Alfa Romeo he should be retained. “Then it’s Fred’s decision.

“We’ll see, but for sure my priority is to be here next year and I would like to be with Alfa Romeo.”

Asked directly if he had held any discussions with Vasseur about 2022, Giovinazzi added: “Unfortunately not yet, but I’m sure this month or next month will be the month.”

If Giovinazzi were to lose his drive, it would be an extremely unfortunate set of circumstances given that his upturn in performances have coincided with Alfa Romeo’s downturn in competitiveness this year. 

Points have been extremely difficult to come by, with Giovinazzi and Raikkonen only able to muster three tenth-place finishes between them across the opening 12 rounds. The rest of the time they have largely been restricted to fighting for positions outside of the points.

Giovinazzi’s results on paper may look fairly ordinary to most, but that doesn’t tell the full picture.

Despite comfortably out-qualifying Raikkonen on a regular basis and being the only Alfa Romeo driver to advance to Q3 in 2021, Giovinazzi’s efforts are being overlooked.

The mid-to-lower reaches of Q2 are the limit of what has been realistically attainable in the C41. It is an achievement that is unlikely to grab the kind of attention and plaudits that say George Russell has earned for his consistent underdog heroics on a Saturday.

Nevertheless, Giovinazzi has decisively held the upper hand over Raikkonen and often outpaced the Finn by more than three-tenths of a second. Even at 41, the 2007 world champion is no slouch and is still considered to be one of the best on the grid.

Giovinazzi has markedly improved from his record of edging out Raikkonen 9-8 in qualifying over the course of last season. This year, it is a more convincing 8-4 in Giovinazzi’s favour. 

The Italian has also produced some stunning starts to gain ground on opening laps, only for the limits of his car and lack of race pace to undo much of his hard work. 

But Giovinazzi’s speed should come as no surprise. This is, after all, a driver who won the most races in the 2016 GP2 season as he fell just eight points short of beating Pierre Gasly to the title in his rookie season.

Giovinazzi’s ability to extract an eye-catching turn of pace was made immediately clear in his debut F1 qualifying session for Sauber at the 2017 Australian Grand Prix. 

Despite being called up as a last-minute substitute for the injured Pascal Wehrlein and only taking part in final practice on the Saturday morning, Giovinazzi managed to get within two-tenths of teammate Marcus Ericsson

However, Giovinazzi’s potential was blotched by a series of crashes and mistakes in the fledgling days of his F1 career. Indeed, a costly shunt while running in the points at the 2019 Belgian GP almost cost him his drive altogether. 

Giovinazzi’s response was impressive as he quickly turned the page, learned from his error, and went on to score points at the next two races on home soil at Monza and in Singapore. A strong end to the season that helped him secure his place for another year was capped off with an excellent drive to fifth in Brazil. 

Consistency is an area Giovinazzi has worked especially hard on, and that has been reflected in how few incidents he has been involved in ever since his low point at Spa

Giovinazzi has developed and grown stronger as a driver, something he partly credits to being teammates with F1 veteran Raikkonen. 

“Kimi is a great driver, a great world champion and a special person,” Giovinazzi said. “For me, he was the best teammate to start my career in Formula 1. 

“I learned so many things from him and I really enjoyed all these years. We had a great relationship since 2017 when we were at Ferrari.”

The way Giovinazzi embedded himself into his test and simulator role at Ferrari means he remains valued extremely highly by the Scuderia. 

Yet timing seems to be his greatest enemy. Although Giovinazzi is officially the most senior of Ferrari’s ‘juniors’ at 27, it no longer feels like he is at the head of its crop of young drivers. 

Instead, he looks set to be jumped in the queue for a future Ferrari drive by the likes of younger rivals including Haas rookie Mick Schumacher and Formula 2 frontrunner Robert Shwartzman. He could yet find himself without a drive altogether. 

It feels as though the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place at the worst possible moment for Giovinazzi, who could end up becoming the latest victim of the sport having an abundance of talent but a lack of available seats. 

It would be a cruel twist for Giovinazzi to lose his place in F1 heading into a rules revolution that might just enable him the chance to fulfil his potential and demonstrate the progress he has made over the past three seasons.