Ferrari have a dilemma on their hands as they vainly attempt to get their junior driver Antonio Giovinazzi on to the Formula 1 grid, however, the Italian team’s president Sergio Marchionne insists that it is merely a matter of time before the 23-year-old finds makes his breakthrough.
Meanwhile, Giovinazzi has been handed the Ferrari reserve role and a number of FP1 outings for 2018, while Chares Leclerc – Maranello’s other protege – has been placed with Alfa Romeo backed Sauber alongside Marcus Ericsson.
Marchionne said of the developments, “Giovinazzi is a good guy, and it’s just a question time. He should get his chance.”
And confirmed, “He will be Ferrari’s third driver and he has a programme of testing with Sauber. We understand his desire to race, but at the moment there are no vacancies.”
“The agreement with Sauber is a way to find an outlet for the youngsters in our Driver Academy, and it will take take time to streamline this system,” explained Marchionne.
Haas, also a Ferrari customer team with close ties to Maranello, were approached to accommodate the young Italian but the American team are remaining loyal to Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen while making it clear that there is no place for Giovinazzi in the team despite having had seven FP1 sessions with them in 2017.
When asked about Giovinazzi’s role with the team by Ekstra Bladet, Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said, “I don’t think it helped us or our drivers. I cannot say how negative it was, but it was not positive. We will see what we are doing next year, but we have not talked about it yet.”
He also confirmed an approach from Ferrari to run Giovinazzi, “They asked, but if you don’t ask you don’t get what you want. They did not pressure us. We quickly clarified that we have two drivers next year. It was pretty straightforward.”
It now appears that Ferrari will up the ante sometime soon and offer Haas a Maserati branding barter deal which could be worth an estimated $25-million. A deal similar to the Sauber Alfa Romeo arrangement.
Although team owner Gene Haas is hardly cash-strapped, that is a chunk of money that few can scoff at, thus if Giovinazzi does not secure a drive for 2018, he could well be in-line for a seat in 2019 with Maserati backed Haas.
Giovinazzi made a solid grand prix debut last year in Melbourne, replacing injured Pascal Wehrlein at Sauber, but had a torrid weekend in China crashing heavily in qualifying and then 24 hours later binned it again during the race, at the same place in full view of everyone in the pitlane.
It was a very expensive weekend for Sauber, and in Hungary, the crash-prone Italian was at it again when he seriously bent Kevin Magnussen’s car during FP1.
Big Question: Does Antonio Giovinazzi deserve a full-time drive in Formula 1?