Antonio Giovinazzi admits that he is not expecting an easy start to the 2019 season at Sauber. The Italian secured a full-time seat at the Hinwil squad in September, replacing Marcus Ericsson, having already raced for it at the opening two races in 2017.
However, Giovinazzi previously admitted that he doesn't believe his race starts at Australia and China will aid him two years on. He will partner Kimi Raikkonen, after Charles Leclerc, Giovinazzi's fellow Ferrari junior, gained promotion to the Scuderia outfit.
Leclerc enjoyed a successful rookie campaign, but Giovinazzi is wary of setting out to emulate the Monegasque racer: "To be honest I didn’t speak much with him about this jump,” Giovinazzi said. I want to think about myself and don’t repeat maybe the result of what Charles did this year or [to try and] improve his result.
“So my target is just to do the best from my side and see. I will also have a different team-mate from Charles, so everything will look different. I hope the car will be faster from race one and we can start to push already from Melbourne.
Raikkonen returns to Sauber after spending five years at Ferrari. Although he was consistently out-performed by Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel during his latest stint at the team, Giovinazzi says that he will face a huge challenge from the 2007 champion.
“It will be quite tough for the first races, because beside me is a world champion with a lot of years in F1. From my side I need to do just my job and improve myself race by race and then we’ll see at the end of the year if we did a good job or not.”
Sauber had an impressive 2018 season, successfully developing the car to score points on regular occasions. After spending two years at the back of the grid, Giovinazzi sees no reason why the resurgence can't continue.
“I think they showed [they were] the best team from race one to the last race, were fighting for second last position to last position in Melbourne and [finished] P8 on the constructors’ championship,” he said. “They are doing a fantastic job, Charles and Marcus [Ericsson] did fantastic.
"I see a lot of high motivation on the team from mechanics and engineers for next year as well," the 25-year-old added. "So this is looking good for me for next year, so we will try and improve also the result again. The target for sure is to be best of the rest but it’s a really high target.”
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing