Imola Grand Prix – Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi will stay on with Alfa Romeo for a third consecutive season in 2021, with no changes being made to the driver line-up.
Following Alfa Romeo’s announcement that they will stay on as naming partner of the Sauber team for 2021, the team have now confirmed their driver line-up for next year. Despite the possibility of running a Ferrari junior stepping up from Formula 2, Alfa have decided to stick with their existing lineup: Kimi Raikkonen will stay on for a record breaking season as Formula 1’s most experienced man, while Antonio Giovinazzi will get the chance to continue building on his potential with a third season.
Raikkonen, who made his debut in F1 with Sauber in 2001, will be 41 years old starting the season and 42 by the conclusion of his deal. At the Eifel Grand Prix three weeks ago, Raikkonen became the driver with the most Grand Prix starts, meaning 2021 will extend out that record considerably. Alfa highlighted his technical contributions and impressive sensitivity to setup changes as huge contributions as they continue to try finding their way back into the midfield.
“Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN is more than a team to me, it is like a second family.” said Raikkonen of his extension. “So many of the faces that were around me when I made my Formula One debut in 2001 are still here and the unique atmosphere of this team is what gives me that extra motivation to keep going in what will be my 19th season in the sport, next year.”
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe in the team’s project and in what we feel we can achieve together. This is a team that values hard work over words and this fits well with my style: I am looking forward to next year and hopefully making some steps forward towards the front of the midfield with the team.”
Antonio Giovinazzi, who has had a much stronger 2020 season than his debut year in 2019, has been given the chance to continue his upward momentum. The 26 year old Italian has been the stronger qualifier for the team this season, and has shown solid Sunday racecraft.
“Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN has been my home in Formula One for the last two seasons and I am happy this relationship can continue for one more year.” said Giovinazzi. “The team has put a lot of faith in me and I have done my best to repay this confidence with hard work and commitment: we have achieved some good results and I feel I have done my part to make the team progress, but the road ahead is still long and there is much more we want to achieve together. There will be a lot of continuity between this season and the next one, so everything we work on between now and the end of the year will already count for next, and we are ready to give it all we have.”
Ferrari juniors Mick Schumacher, Callum Ilott and Rob Shwartzman were all contenders to step up to the team if Raikkonen decided to walk away or Alfa decided to make changes, but team boss Frederic Vasseur has welcomed the team’s continuity.
“I am very pleased for the team to continue working with Kimi and Antonio for another season.” said Vasseur. “Kimi is a driver who needs no introduction: his talent has been clear to everyone since 2001 and I still see the passion and motivation in him every time I see him at work. He can be trusted to deliver 100% of what the car can produce and he is a true leader for the people working around him. Antonio finished last year’s campaign strongly and he picked up where he left off and kept improving throughout 2020. From the track to the engineering briefings, Antonio has played a crucial role for our team and he has thoroughly deserved a new contract for 2021. His work ethic, commitment to the team and contagious enthusiasm are a huge asset for Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN.”
Alfa will race this weekend with a special livery to highlight the Italian flag, celebrating their recent announcements as well as Alfa’s 110th birthday and the return of F1 to Imola for a third Italian round in F1 this year.