Antonio Giovinazzi says he is not surprised by the performance gap to Alfa Romeo teammate Kimi Raikkonen early in the 2019 season, believing it is “normal” as he gets up to speed in Formula 1.

Giovinazzi began his first full season in F1 last month after over two years without a full-time racing programme, but has struggled to match teammate Raikkonen – a driver with almost 300 grand prix starts to this name – for pace early in the year.

While Raikkonen has scored points in all three races and reached Q3 twice already this season, Giovinazzi is yet to record a top-10 finish and has been knocked out in the first stage of qualifying at the last two races.

“It’s not easy after two years without racing. It’s not really easy, especially in qualifying, you lose that push lap a little bit in qualifying,” Giovinazzi said.

“I think to have Kimi as a teammate is a good reference. When I stop in the garage, I can watch his data, and see where I can improve.

“I need to just keep working like that, and I think all the things will come together, and there will be a lot more reasons to have a good result.”

Asked if he was surprised by how Raikkonen has performed this season, Giovinazzi said: “No, because I was working with him for the last two years [at Ferrari], so I know how he’s working.

“He’s a fantastic driver with a lot of experience, and he knows already what he wants before the race weekend. This is something really good to see. It’s just experience in the end.”

Giovinazzi compared the situation to when he was racing in F3 in 2015. Then in his third year in the championship with Carlin, Giovinazzi was able to lead the team while his teammates – American drivers Gustavo Menezes and Ryan Tveter – struggled to match him.

“It’s like when I was in F3 the last year, and I saw the rookie drivers, compared to me, they were struggling at the beginning of the weekend,” Giovinazzi said.

“In every sport you find the same, when you find the best and most experienced athletes, you feel less ready than them.

“But that’s something normal I think."