Sauber have acquired Ferrari prodigy Antonio Giovinazzi to partner Kimi Raikkonen for next season.
The 24-year-old has finally secured a full-time seat in Formula One after holding a reserve driver role at Ferrari since his successful season in GP2.
Giovinazzi gets first full-time seat in F1
With their Alfa Romeo association, Ferrari have ensured that Giovinazzi has a drive for the 2019 campaign, making him the first Italian on the grid since Jarno Trulli and Viantonio Liuzzi departed the sport in 2011.
The move means that Marcus Ericsson will now drop to being a third driver, whilst also representing the Swiss manufactures in an ambassadorial role.
The acquisition of both Giovinazzi and Raikkonen boasts a statement of intent from Sauber, who are looking to continue their impressive progress with Alfa Romeo and challenge further up the field.
Giovinazzi enjoyed a short-term opportunity at the start of the 2017 season for Sauber as he stepped in for the injured Pascal Wehrlein. Despite a 12th place finish in Melbourne, the Italian subsequently crashed out in both qualifying and the race at the Chinese Grand Prix, and has since found his opportunities limited to the occasional Free Practice outing.
Giovinazzi: A dream come true
But Ferrari have maintained their support of the 24-year-old, who is highly regarded amongst the Maranello establishment.
Speaking to the Official Formula One website, Giovinazzi stated:
“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.
“I would like to thank the Scuderia Ferrari and the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team for giving me this great opportunity. I am very motivated and cannot wait to start working towards achieving great results together.”
The arrival of Giovinazzi marks the swift upturn in fortunes for Sauber, who have since reaped the rewards from their alliance with Alfa Romeo.
In Sauber’s press release, Team Principal Frederic Vasseur claimed that Giovinazzi had “proven to have great potential” in his two years as a reserve driver.
The former Renault Team Principal indicated that the addition of Giovinazzi to a full-time seat was a “significant decision in the scope of their long-term project.”
“The coming together of Alfa Romeo and the Italian driver was natural, also considering the strong bond that has tied Giovinazzi to the brand from an early age,” claimed Vassuer when speaking to the Official Formula One website, “it is a source of national pride considering that several years have passed since an Italian driver has competed in Formula 1.”