Antonio Giovinazzi: Italian signs extension at Alfa Romeo for 2020

Antonio Giovinazzi
Antonio Giovinazzi (right) finished ninth at September's Italian Grand Prix - his best finish in F1

Italian Antonio Giovinazzi will stay at Alfa Romeo for his second Formula 1 season next year.

The 21-year-old will again partner veteran Kimi Raikkonen, who will be heading into the final year of his contract in 2020.

The decision to retain Giovinazzi probably ends the F1 career of German Nico Hulkenberg, at least for a year.

The only seat yet to be filled is the second Williams alongside George Russell.

That is expected to go to rookie Nicholas Latifi.

Giovinazzi, who is a member of the Ferrari driver academy, had an erratic start to his rookie season and there was pressure from within the Alfa Romeo team at one point to take Hulkenberg instead for 2020.

But Ferrari had the final call on the seat, through the team's financial relationship with sister brand Alfa Romeo, and they have seen enough potential in Giovinazzi to convince them he deserves to be given a further opportunity.

Giovinazzi took time to find his feet but he has out-qualified Raikkonen four times in the past five races, although he lags behind the Finn in the championship, having scored only four points to Raikkonen's 31.

Alfa Romeo team boss Frederic Vasseur said: "Antonio has emerged as a very quick driver, even alongside as tough a benchmark as Kimi, and we expect him to develop even further as his experience grows."

Giovinazzi said: "I am grateful for the incredible level of support I received in my first full season in Formula 1. Everyone in the team has stuck by my side since I joined and I am really looking forward to continuing our journey together.

"We learned a lot this year and I am confident we can make a big step forward next season. I won't be a rookie any more so there won't be any excuses for me. I want to be competitive right from the start of the championship and repay the confidence the team has shown in me."

Hulkenberg has lost his seat at Renault after three years to Frenchman Esteban Ocon and his future in the sport is unclear.

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