Antonio Giovinazzi says he still has his eye on the big "dream" of racing in formula one for Ferrari. The Italian actually had a minor role in this year's F1 season, replacing the injured Pascal Wehrlein at Sauber early on. "The year gave me more than I expected," said the 23-year-old, who was Ferrari's official reserve and also a Friday practice driver for Haas, another Ferrari-powered team.
"I do not hide that after a great year in GP2, I felt ready to race a full season in F1, but that's how it is," Giovinazzi told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "But now I feel even much more prepared than I did last winter."
However, the next step for Giovinazzi is not clear. In China, he had an awful race weekend for Sauber and since then it has been Ferrari's other junior, Charles Leclerc, who has commanded most of the attention. "In Australia I had a great time but China was the worst weekend of my entire career as a driver," he admits.
"It happened to me on the most important stage when I had all the media pressure on me. Critics attacked me a lot. I understand better that you always have to keep your feet on the ground," Giovinazzi insists. "I do not want to say that it went to my head, but perhaps in China I set goals that were bigger than I could do at that time. You have to be aware of your limitations and that everything comes to you in time. But the disappointment has helped me to grow."
Indeed, it is Leclerc who is believed to have definitely secured the Sauber seat for 2018, with the Swiss team wanting to please its owners by keeping Marcus Ericsson.
But there are rumours Ferrari is still pushing hard to convince Sauber to pick Giovinazzi to be Leclerc's teammate instead. Sauber boss Frederic Vasseur is expected to make his decision before the end of the 2017 season. Also rumoured is that Haas is still under pressure to accommodate Giovinazzi in 2018, even though Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen are already under contract.
Asked by La Gazzetta dello Sport to explain why he deserves to be on the grid, Giovinazzi answered: "Because, like so many others, myself and my family have made great sacrifices to get me here. F1 is not football, where you can play for many teams. Here there are only 20 places in the world but I have always believed I could do it just like Vettel and Hamilton, who also achieved great success from scratch."
"I can say that I'm still dreaming to follow Schumacher. When I signed for Ferrari I could not believe it," he revealed. "I had always been a 'gypsy' in my single seater career but now I live near Maranello, I am almost every day at the factory and I feel at home now." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing