Alfa Romeo’s rookie signing Antonio Giovinazzi says he’s eager to learn from Kimi Raikkonen through an intensive testing pre-season as he made his 2019 debut on Tuesday.
While Kimi Raikkonen was given the honours of driving the Alfa Romeo C38 for the team’s shakedown run at Fiorano last week, as well as the first day of testing on Monday, it was his new rookie teammate Antonio Giovinazzi who was at the wheel for his first day of 2019 action on Tuesday.
The charismatic Italian isn’t quite a full rookie, having participated in two Grands Prix as a replacement for the injured Pascal Wehrlein at Sauber in 2017. This was while Giovinazzi served as the reserve driver for both Ferrari & Sauber. However, this year is his first as a race driver and he says he woke up very excited and eager to get going with testing: “I had to wait two years but, when I woke up today, I was really happy like for Christmas! Even though I’ve just finished for today, I can’t wait to jump back in on Thursday and try to learn more and improve the car for Melbourne.”
While Antonio has spent the last two years helping Ferrari improve their cars on behalf of other drivers, he says that it feels a bit strange to now be doing the same work for his own benefit: “It’s a very different feeling, testing a car for yourself. What I’m doing is to try taking all the feedback and give it to the team and work with them and Kimi to make a good car.”
While many drivers tend to say that they’re only willing to be their own man and forge their own path as they find their feet in F1, Giovinazzi is the opposite. With him being paired up with the uber-experienced Kimi Raikkonen, he says that it would be ‘a mistake’ to not try to learn how to work with Kimi’s methods and from the Finn: “I followed Kimi’s day on Monday and I think we can do a really good job together. He has a lot more experience than me and listen to him and we’ll both give our feedback and hopefully we’ll go the same way, the right way. It would be a mistake to do things a different way to him. My target is to work with him and learn from him. It’s important for the team that we go the same way and for me to go the same way as Kimi.”
Unable to keep the smile off his face, he says the Alfa does appear to have a very strong early foundation, which is borne out by their pace so far. He did 101 laps on Tuesday, underlining the car’s reliability at this early stage. His best time, set on the C4 tyre, was 1:19.312; this was 1.1 seconds slower than the top time set by Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari: “I live driving this car, we’ve improved a lot from last year although it’s too early to tell where we are at this stage. I need to do a lot of work and that’s what we’re doing with these days.”
“It was a really positive feeling straightaway, from the first lap. It was good, easy to drive. We need to see, though, as the other teams are saying the same. It’s too early to know for sure but it is a good car, for sure.”