The Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 team has announced that Ferrari protege Antonio Giovinazzi will be partnering Kimi Raikkonen at the team next year.
Giovinazzi was runner-up to Pierre Gasly in the 2016 GP2 title race, and his 2019 deal will be his first full-time racing chance since his GP2 campaign two years ago. He raced for Sauber twice last season as a stand-in for the injured Pascal Wehrlein. This year he is carrying out a programme of Friday grand prix practice outings with the team, and has also tested for both Haas and Ferrari.
A Sauber statement said the decision to sign Giovinazzi fitted the team's "tradition of discovering and nurturing young talents" and "is particularly significant in the scope of the project" with title sponsor Alfa Romeo.
“I am delighted to be joining the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team. This is a dream come true, and it is a great pleasure to have the chance to race for this team. As an Italian, it is a huge honour for me to represent a brand as iconic and successful as Alfa Romeo in our sport,” said Giovinazzi.
Commenting on the team’s decision to sign Giovinazzi, Frédéric Vasseur, CEO of Sauber Motorsport and Team Principal of the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team, said: “We are very pleased to reveal the complete driver line-up for the 2019 season. We first signed Kimi Räikkönen, an extremely experienced driver who will contribute to the development of our car and will accelerate the progress of our team as a whole. Together with Alfa Romeo, we are delighted to welcome Antonio Giovinazzi, who will take the place of Charles Leclerc. We have already had the opportunity to work with him in the past and he has proven to have great potential. We are very determined and motivated. Our target is to continue progressing and fighting together for positions that count.”
Meanwhile, Sauber’s current driver Marcus Ericsson will continue to work with the team next year as a reserve driver and brand ambassador