Alfa Romeo will finalise its line-up for the 2020 Formula 1 season “quite soon”, according to team principal Frederic Vasseur, who continued to express his confidence in Antonio Giovinazzi.

Alfa Romeo is one of four teams yet to complete its driver roster for next year, holding one free seat as Kimi Raikkonen continues into a second season.

Giovinazzi has scored four points through his first full F1 season, but has been subject to regular praise from team boss Vasseur, especially for how closely-matched he has been with 2007 world champion Raikkonen in qualifying.

Asked for an update on Alfa Romeo’s driver plans for 2020, Vasseur said that an announcement was not too far off before once again talking up Giovinazzi.

“We will take the decision quite soon but honestly, if you have a look at the last event, I think that Antonio is doing a very strong job,” Vasseur said.

“He was matching Kimi in the last six or seven qualifyings in a row. He was in front in Sochi. OK, the first lap was not a good one for us, but he’s doing the job and he’s improving step-by-step.

“This morning [in FP1 at Suzuka] we had an issue on the car and he was not able to show the pace but he’s doing the job, he’s improving.

“I’m very confident with Antonio.”

Besides the seat at Alfa Romeo, there is also one free drive at Williams, Toro Rosso and Red Bull for 2020, leaving the driver market close to completion.

Nico Hulkenberg is currently the highest-profile driver without a confirmed seat for next year, and with Alfa Romeo seemingly leaning towards retaining Giovinazzi, the German may find himself frozen out of the grid.

 

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