Giovinazzi: Pay drivers deserve their place on F1 grid

Antonio Giovinazzi

Antonio Giovinazzi has claimed that drivers who arrive in Formula 1 with significant financial backing “deserve” a place on the grid.

Nikita Mazepin, Nicholas Latifi and Lance Stroll all bring sponsors and wealth to their respective teams, but Giovinazzi believes their records in their respective junior careers justify their place on the F1 grid.

Speaking to AMuS, Giovinazzi said: “They have also shown in the other series that they can win.

“They are here because they deserve it. Of course, names and money help, but they have also proven themselves in the lower categories.”

Lance Stroll was Formula 3 European champion in 2016, winning the title by over 100 points. He joined Williams in 2017, scoring a podium in his maiden F1 season in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. After a consortium led by his father Lawrence Stroll saved Force India from collapse, Lance followed suit, joining the rebranded Racing Point in 2019. In 2020, Stroll scored two further podiums – third-place finishes in Monza and Sakhir – as well as a pole position in tricky conditions in Turkey.

Although less successful in their F1 careers thus far, both Latifi and Mazepin enjoyed success in their junior careers. Latifi, the son of Sofina CEO and Chairman Michael Latifi, scored six wins in his time in FIA Formula 2/GP2 between 2016 and 2019, ending his final season in the series as runner-up to Nyck de Vries. The Canadian has had a steady start to life in Formula 1 but hasn’t been helped by his machinery. Latifi has dragged his Williams to the cusp of points three times but is still waiting to get his tally going.

F1 newcomer Nikita Mazepin has had a heavily documented and turbulent start to his Haas career. Nikita is the son of Dmitry Mazepin, a Russian oligarch who chairs the Uralchem Integrated Chemicals Company of which he is the majority shareholder. Uralchem holds some 20.1% of Haas’ title sponsor Uralkali.

Nikita Mazepin’s junior achievements include 2nd overall in the 2018 GP3 Series and 3rd in the 2019/20 F3 Asian Championship. His 2020 F2 campaign with Hitech Grand Prix saw Mazepin take to the top step of the podium twice; the Silverstone 1 feature race and Mugello feature race.

Giovinazzi’s future is in the balance, but the Italian has emerged as Alfa Romeo’s strongest performer in the early stages of 2021. However, the success of fellow Ferrari Driver Academy member Mick Schumacher could determine the Italian’s situation.

“There are only 20 drivers in Formula 1,” he added. “I’ve always driven with pressure. In Formula 3 I had an Indonesian sponsor and I knew I had to deliver results to get ahead, and it’s the same here. I have to be good and then I will stay.

“Mick has shown what he can do with his wins in Formula 3 and Formula 2. He is here because of his results. So am I. In the end, it was a decision by Ferrari to put him in the Haas and me in the Alfa Romeo.

“I just want to perform well. Now I’m here with Alfa Romeo and then we’ll see what happens next year.

“Of course, every driver has the goal of becoming World Champion. It’s not that easy. Let’s wait and see.”