Antonio Giovinazzi may have been one of the stars of the first Formula 1 qualifying session of the year ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, but his performance was all-the-more impressive given he only learned he would be racing for Sauber a few hours earlier.

Sauber announced ahead of final practice at Albert Park that Pascal Wehrlein had been withdrawn from the remainder of the race weekend due to an ongoing back injury that was causing his issues.

Ferrari junior Giovinazzi was given the nod to replace Wehrlein for the remainder of the weekend, having previously deputised for the German for part of pre-season testing.

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"I got the call just this morning," Giovinazzi said. "I just received a text from Ferrari and my manager. They informed me actually yesterday night but it was too late, I was already in my bed! I found out this morning when I woke up.

"First thing I was thinking it was a joke! But then I realised it was true, so I came here and tried straightaway to work really fast with engineer and with my team. To be honest, to be here I can't believe it. It's a dream come true for me since I was a kid to race in a grand prix."

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Despite having only an hour of practice running before qualifying, Giovinazzi qualified an impressive 16th for Sauber, finishing just shy of team-mate Marcus Ericsson.

"I'm already really happy with my performance," Giovinazzi said. "After the second set of times, I was a little bit ahead of Marcus, and I tried to push a bit more and I made a mistake at Turn 15.

"To be honest it was my first qualy, so I already expected less than what I got, so I'm really happy with my performance. Just a few tenths from Marcus with more experience with the car, with F1. I think it's good enough.

"Tomorrow will again be a long race, anything can happen. We need to do just the same job I did today, and we'll see where we end."

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