Giovinazzi gets another chance to impress

Sauber have given reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi a chance to impress with an FP1 outing lined up at the German Grand Prix.

Ferrari pushed to have both academy products – Charles Leclerc and Giovinazzi – in full-time driver roles with Sauber ahead of the 2018 season but the latter missed out with Marcus Ericsson keeping hold of his seat.

Giovinazzi had to settle for a reserve and development role for this season, but will finally get a chance to rack up some miles in the 2018 car.

The Italian deputised for two races at Sauber in 2017 whilst then driver Pascal Wehrlein recovered from an injury sustained at the Race of Champions.

However, calls for him to remain on the grid became quieter after a string of costly crashes.

Yet, there is still hope of Giovinazzi joining the 2019 grid should Leclerc be promoted to the Ferrari seat for next season.

Giovinazzi will be replacing Ericcson at Hockenheim, the Swede returning to the wheel on Friday afternoon for FP2.

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Giovinazzi set for Sauber duty in Hockenheim FP1

Ferrari reserve Antonio Giovinazzi will be back in a Formula 1 cockpit when he does duty for Sauber during the first free practice session of the German Grand Prix weekend on Friday.

The Italian driver, who made his Formula 1 race debut at the 2017 Australian Grand Prix, in place of injured Pascal Wehrlein, will do the FP1 session in place of Marcus Ericsson, with Charles Leclerc in the sister car meaning that both Ferrari proteges will be in action during the 90-minutes morning session at Hockenheim.

Giovinazzi drove during Barcelona F1 testing, after the Spanish Grand Prix in May, for Sauber on day one of the in-season testing and then for Ferrari a day later.

Last year the 24-year-old Italian did seven FP1 sessions with Haas and has recently been linked to a return to the American team as a possible replacement for wayward Romain Grosjean, if not this season then as a contender to do so next year.

Ferrari ran out of seats this season for their drivers as the Maranello bosses were keen to place both Giovinazzi and Leclerc on the grid. They opted for the latter with Sauber who has done a stellar job, setting himself up as the first Ferrari Drivers Academy (FDA) graduate to step up to the Scuderia.

At the time Haas were committed to both their current drivers, however, However Guenther Steiner and Gene Haas may well think twice when considering their line-up for next season because Giovinazzi would come with a substantial discount on their Ferrari engine deal.


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Sauber hands Giovinazzi FP1 outing at Hockenheim

Sauber’s test and reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi will be in action at Hockenheim on Friday morning.

The Swiss squad has given the Ferrari Formula 1 junior his first race weekend outing of the season in the initial free practice session for the German Grand Prix.

His most recent time in the car was in the in-season test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya that followed the Spanish Grand Prix in May, where he also tested with Ferrari. The 24-year-old Italian previously had seven practice outings with the Haas team in 2017.

He made his F1 début for Sauber at the start of 2017 in place of the injured Pascal Wehrlein. His most recent race outing was at Le Mans in the Ferrari factory-backed #52 AF Corse team.

Giovinazzi will be sitting in for Marcus Ericsson, who will have to watch the session from the Sauber pit wall instead. However the Swede was unconcerned by the lost of track time, stressing that he knows Hockenheim well.

“Hockenheim is a track that I have driven many times, in Formula 1 as well as in GP2 and Formula 3 when I was younger,” he said.

“It is a nice track. The biggest challenge is the last sector which can make or break your lap,” he said. “It is important to have good speed in the straights and work your way through the hairpins in the first half of the lap well.”

Ericsson scored points for only the second time this year in Austria, but then crashed out of the British Grand Prix a week later. He’s hoping to put that blip behind him and get straight back into the top ten in Germany.

“I look forward to bouncing back and fighting for good results again at Hockenheim,” he pledged. “As a team, we see a good trend in our performance, having been more and more competitive with each race weekend.

“There are usually a lot of Swedish fans attending this Grand Prix,” he added. “I hope to see many of them again this year – their support is always great!”

Although still in his rookie season in Formula 1, Ericsson’s team mate Charles Leclerc is also very familiar with the Hockenheim circuit.

“The Hockenheimring is a circuit that I know well, especially from my time in Formula 3,” the 20-year-old explained.

I really look forward to going back there. It is great to have the German Grand Prix back on the calendar.

“It is quite a technical track, with an impressive stadium that is usually filled with many spectators.

“Hopefully we can build on the progress we have made in the last few races, and keep fighting for points.”

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Ericsson puts heavy crash down to false DRS maneuver

Marcus Ericsson endured a sudden exit from Sunday’s British Grand Prix, the Sauber driver crashing heavily after entering Abbey with his DRS wide open.

The Swede said he had no intention of running full blast through the corner with his DRS open hot on the heels of Force India’s Sergio Perez, insisting a botched maneuver inside the cockpit meant he failed to close his rear wing early enough.

“I wasn’t sure after the incident if it was a failure or not but we’ve looked at the data and it seems that because I have the button behind my steering wheel – it’s quite bumpy there on entry you go on the kerb – I think I just slipped. I didn’t hit it,” he explained.

Ericsson advocated a few changes to his steering wheel to prevent the mishap from happening again.

“Maybe we need to look at, on tracks like this, making sure we have a bit bigger button or something like that or see what we can do so it doesn’t happen again,” he added.

“Because basically I turned in, the DRS was open and you are a passenger because the car gets turned. That was the reason why it happened.”

Ericsson believed his race had been going well up to the point of his crash.

“It was going really well, we were following the strategy plan and had a good first stint,” he said.

“Then, the second stint also started well, and we were waiting to become stronger through the race.

“The positive is that we made further progress and I look forward to fighting back at the next Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.”

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