Alfa Romeo will retain Antonio Giovinazzi for the 2020 season, all but ending Nico Hulkenberg’s chances of remaining in Formula 1.
Giovinazzi was promoted to a race seat this season after a spell as reserve for Alfa Romeo (formerly Sauber). Paired with 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen, the 25-year-old struggled early in the season but has scored points on three occasions, including twice since the summer break, and has regularly challenged Raikkonen in qualifying.
“I am very happy to be staying with the team for 2020,” Giovinazzi said. “I am grateful for the incredible level of support I received in my first full season in Formula 1: everyone in the team has stuck by my side since I joined and I am really looking forward to continuing our journey together.
“We learned a lot this year and I am confident we can make a big step forward next season. I won’t be a rookie anymore so there won’t be any excuses for me: I want to be competitive right from the start of the championship and repay the confidence the team has shown in me.”
Giovinazzi will form an unchanged line-up alongside Raikkonen, with team principal Frederic Vasseur saying the stability is an important factor for Alfa Romeo after a tough second half to the year.
“Antonio has done really well this year and I am extremely pleased to be able to confirm he will stay with Alfa Romeo Racing for 2020,” Giovinazzi said. “The way he has integrated into the team and has consistently improved throughout his first full season in the sport are very promising and we cannot wait to unlock his full potential as we continue to work together.
“Antonio has emerged as a very quick driver, even alongside as tough a benchmark as Kimi, and we expect him to develop even further as his experience grows. His technical feedback, work ethics and positive approach will help us continue to push our team forward, and so will the consistency of an unchanged line-up for next season.”
Hulkenberg had viewed the Alfa Romeo seat as his best chance to remain in F1 following his release from Renault, with Williams expected to sign Nicholas Latifi for next season. Hulkenberg raced for Vasseur in junior categories and was also signed by the Frenchman at Renault before Vasseur left his previous role.