Antonio Giovinazzi says Kimi Raikkonen is the “best teammate” he could have hoped to have to learn from at the start his Formula 1 career.

The pair will form Sauber’s 2019 driver line-up after Giovinazzi was promoted to the Swiss side to replace Marcus Ericsson, while Raikkonen returns to the team he started his career with in a straight swap with Charles Leclerc.

Giovinazzi, who made his F1 debut with Sauber at the start of the 2017 campaign as stand-in for the injured Pascal Wehrlein, believes he can benefit from the experience of the 2007 world champion when he contests his first full-season in the sport.

“From my side, Kimi would be the best teammate,” Giovinazzi said. “He has a lot of experience. If you ask something to him, he will for sure help me.

“I would say is the best teammate to start my F1 career, and I can’t wait also to race beside one world champion. It’s something really good.

“The team is working really - they are really motivated also,” he added.

“Next year there will be Kimi with a lot of experience. His name can help also the team to give 110% to improve the car and do a fantastic job next year.”

The Ferrari junior believes he is now better prepared for life in F1 after spending 18 months on the sidelines since his Australia bow working in his simulator role with the Scuderia.

Giovinazzi impressed on his debut at the 2017 Melbourne season-opener, finishing 12th, but went on to endure a crash-strewn weekend at the following race in China.

“It was two long years, a lot of simulator, a lot of relationships with Ferrari engineers,” he explained.

“It was two years really important for me where I learned so much, also from the meetings from Sebastian and Kimi, I learned so much.

“I can say that I’m a lot more ready now than when I jumped in the car in the beginning of 2017.”

The Italian added he noticed a shift change regarding his reputation following a difficult weekend in China, but stressed it only made him more determined to return and prove his credentials.

“After Melbourne, everyone was really happy and my name was really on the top. Then after Shanghai, my name was really down,” he said.

“This is F1. One week you are a hero, one week you are not really good.

“It was maybe my problem, to finish my experience in F1 in a race weekend in Shanghai was not the best but like I said before, I never give up.

“I always try to make my best in FP1 or a rookie test or Pirelli test, and in the end, next year I can have my opportunity to show who I am with a full programme and a full season.”