When a young and upcoming driver partners a seasoned veteran, they could get intimidated, unless they are Charles Leclerc. The same could not be said of Antonio Giovinazzi when he partnered Kimi Raikkonen for the first time.
The Italian had his work cut out keeping up with the 2007 world champion. When the 2019 season kicked off, Giovinazzi’s defined role was that of a number 2 driver. However, once the season got underway, priorities changed and he managed to keep up with the Finn. Speaking to the official F1 website, he talked about his tussles with Raikkonen.
“At the beginning of the season, I was really struggling. He was already at the top of his career and he was really fast in every race. If you look at the results it wasn’t really easy to compare“, the Italian said.
After his initial struggles, his qualifying improved first, with a top ten position in Austria. Antonio Giovinazzi then followed it up with a strong second half of the season. So far, he has had a career-best finish of 5th place at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, behind 4th-placed Kimi Raikkonen.
How did Kimi Raikkonen influence Giovinazzi?
The Italian driver admitted that he did everything in his power to learn from the veteran driver. He confessed that it was all he could do to keep up and knew that he would struggle initially.
The Italian had already driven two races in 2017 for the then Sauber, because Pascal Wehrlein was injured in the winter. In 2019 the driver was allowed to drive a whole season for the first time.
“I think I have made great progress in the second half of the season. I have to thank Kimi for that, because I learned a lot from him. It is nice that I can race with him next season as well, because we have a good friendship. We respect each other and I think that’s the most important thing for a teammate and the team. Of course it’s also nice to have a world champion as a teammate, especially if you drive in front of him“.