Antonio Giovinazzi has had a turbulent few years in motor racing, as the Italian was sublime in the junior categories, but struggled with Formula 1 at first.
Giovinazzi’s first practice sessions with Haas were packed with mistakes and the odd crash, but then after impressed on his debut race with Sauber as a reserve for Pascal Wehrlein in 2017.
However, for his second race weekend in China, the old mistakes crept back in and people again began to question whether Formula 1 was too big of a step up.
When Sauber re-branding as Alfa Romeo and strengthening their ties with Ferrari, it was little surprise the Giovinazzi ended up with a seat for 2019 after spending a year in the Maranello simulator.
Although outshone by Kimi Raikkonen in the first quarter of the season, Giovinazzi steadily improved but really came back from the summer break with a bang.
He went on a run of out-qualifying the Iceman in four out of the next five races, and was the sole points scorer for the majority of the second half of the season.
The Belgian Grand Prix was a low point on his run of good form however, as he looked set for a strong points finish until a few laps before the end he lost the back end and stranded his car in the gravel trap.
Mistakes such as this were prominent earlier in his career, but for the most part the Italian has managed to keep a lid on such problems.
Judging by how he has improved throughout the season, it would not be surprising if he came back stronger than ever when Melbourne rolls around in 2020.
You must consider than his teammate Raikkonen will be 41 next season, and although he is unquestionably still a very quick driver you mustn’t bet against Giovinazzi to come out on top.
When you look at the championship standings for 2019, it is easy to assume that Raikkonen was the far superior driver. This is because the Finn sits in 12th on 43 points, in comparison to only 4 for Giovinazzi. However, Alfa Romeo went into this season after finishing 2018 with arguably the fourth fastest car on the grid.
Over the season, the average gap that the car had to the fastest team was 1.673s, but this gap was certainly larger in the second half of the season than it was in the first. In the races head-to-head Giovinazzi trails Raikkonen by 16 rounds to 4, a score which on paper looks rather disappointing.
Due to the large difference in performance from the car before and after the summer break, it's arguably not a totally accurate and fair comparison to make.
What is more representative of the teammate head-to-head is the qualifying battle, as Raikkonen leads Giovinazzi by 12 rounds to 9. This is a very respectable record against the 2007 world champion and I expect it to be a lot closer in 2020.
|Kimi Raikkonen||Antonio Giovinazzi|
|Average qualifying gap||-0.041||+0.041|
Giovinazzi has sealed his seat for 2020 alongside Raikkonen after the team opted for him over Nico Hulkenberg. Based on his performance in the second half of the year, I believe he’s done enough to deserve it.
Giovinazzi's best moment of 2019: Leading in Singapore
Giovinazzi had a few good moments this season, but the one that stands out is his performance under the lights in Singapore. After out-qualifying Raikkonen, during the race Giovinazzi became the first non-Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull driver to lead a lap. He went on to finish comfortably in the points in what was a very impressive drive.
Giovinazzi's worst moment of 2019: Crashing out in Belgium
Questions over whether or not Formula 1 was too big a step up for Giovinazzi had mostly disappeared by the time the Belgian Grand Prix rolled around, but this is exactly where an old habit crept back it. The Italian crashed out of a points finish of his own accord, something which he will hope to avoid in 2020.
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