Sauber has confirmed that Antonio Giovinazzi will step up to a full-time Formula 1 race seat for the 2019 season, partnering Kimi Raikkonen.
Giovinazzi made two F1 race starts for Sauber at the beginning of 2017, deputising for the injured Pascal Wehrlein, but has since served as Ferrari’s reserve and development driver.
The Italian has made two FP1 appearances for Sauber so far this year and was known to be in the running for a seat with the team for 2019, but has now been officially confirmed as its second driver for next season.
Giovinazzi will partner the already-announced Kimi Raikkonen, marking an all-new line-up for Sauber next year.
“I am delighted to be joining the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team. This is a dream come true, and it is a great pleasure to have the chance to race for this team,” Giovinazzi said.
“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.”
Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur added: “We are very pleased to reveal the complete driver line-up for the 2019 season. We first signed Kimi Räikkönen, an extremely experienced driver who will contribute to the development of our car and will accelerate the progress of our team as a whole.
“Together with Alfa Romeo, we are delighted to welcome Antonio Giovinazzi, who will take the place of Charles Leclerc. We have already had the opportunity to work with him in the past and he has proven to have great potential. We are very determined and motivated. Our target is to continue progressing and fighting together for positions that count.”
Charles Leclerc has already been confirmed as Raikkonen’s replacement at Ferrari, but Giovinazzi’s appointment leaves Marcus Ericsson without a seat, putting the Swede at risk of not being on the grid next year.
The 2019 Sauber drive will mark Giovinazzi’s first full-season race programme in three years, with his last campaign coming in 2016 when he finished as runner-up in GP2 behind Pierre Gasly.
Giovinazzi has since only entered three races – the two F1 starts with Sauber, plus this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans – but has featured in a number of F1 tests and practice sessions.
The team have also confirmed that Ericsson will be the team’s reserve driver in 2019.