Pascal Wehrlein raised concerns over his fitness with the team after Friday practice. Wehrein had suffered a back injury early in the year at the Race of Champions. Wehrlein later decided to sit out from the race in Melbourne. Ferrari Academy driver Antonio Giovinazzi was called on to replace Wehrlein for the race. Giovinazzi qualified 16th and finished the race in 12th position.
This incredible performance from the debutant got the attention of many F1 pundits who lauded him for his efforts. He said after his race,”Yesterday I was just two tenths from Q2, and today just two positions to the points. To be on top of the rookie drivers, with the preparation I had before. I think was a pretty good weekend.”
This eye-catching performance led to former Ferrari Sporting Director Cesare Fiorio to come out in praise of Giovinazzi and even go as far as to say that he should replace Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari next year. When asked about Giovinazzi, Fiorio said, “I have followed him for 4-5 years and he is definitely the best talent we have and is ready for Formula 1. Ferrari did well to put him under contract and I hope they will give him a chance.”
When asked about his thoughts on Kimi’s performance after he rejoined Ferrari, Fiorio said, “His last season with Alonso and the first with Vettel were embarrassing, although he recovered last year with Vettel. But by the end of the season, he starts to be a driver at 38, 39 years old and then I think it’s time to conclude his adventure at Ferrari.”
Kimi’s performance at Melbourne was quite disappointing. Having a car with performance to match the likes of Mercedes, the expectations were higher. He did however struggle with the balance of the car and said he was never happy with the set-up. He did fare well towards the end of last season but will Ferrari offer another extension for 2018? Only time will tell.