Antonio Giovinazzi has now surpassed the need to use Kimi Raikkonen as a benchmark for future performances as the Italian looks on course to be Alfa Romeo’s future team leader.
Giovinazzi, who has begun his third full season at the Swiss-based outfit, has had a superb start to the 2021 season, with the Italian scoring his and the team’s first point of the season in Monte Carlo after a hard-fought battle with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon for the duration of the race with the Italian also beating team leader Raikkonen in qualifying by four races to one.
These performances have impressed Alfa Romeo team boss Frédéric Vasseur who revealed in an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com that he believes that Giovinazzi is ready to become team leader if Raikkonen calls time on his Formula 1 career at the end of the 2021 season.
In the past, Vasseur believes that Giovinazzi focused too much on Raikkonen as a reference in previous seasons, with Giovinazzi’s change of approach in focusing on himself rather than Raikkonen as a reason for his excellent start to the campaign, according to Vasseur.
“Probably of the issues he had in the past was that he was too focused on Kimi as a reference, and he has to be focused on himself; I think the big change he had over the last 12 months is that when he did this kind of move to say ‘OK, now let’s be focused on myself, I am doing the job, I’m able to do the job, and if I am at 100% of my capacity, I will do a decent job, and he did this change of approach.”
“It is not easy because very often, the first reference is your teammate, and now he’s taking his own position into the team. And this is also important for us.”
Vasseur also praised Giovinazzi’s qualifying record, which has seen the Italian only miss the cut for the second part of qualifying once.
“He clearly did a step in between the two seasons, but it was already like this in the second part of 2020. If you have a look, he did a decent qualy, except Imola where he had the issue of [being overtaken by Nikita Mazepin at the end of the out lap], but the other qualys he was leading the team, and it’s important for us to have the stability."
“As we said before that, I think that Antonio is growing up, he is improving.”