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2019 ‘struggles’ cost me shot at Ferrari seat, says Giovinazzi

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 27: Antonio Giovinazzi of Italy and Alfa Romeo Racing looks on in the

Considering he’s been a Ferrari-affiliated driver since 2017, there were some who were surprised that Antonio Giovinazzi didn’t get the nod to join Ferrari when it was announced that Sebastian Vettel would be leaving the team at the end of 2020. But Giovinazzi himself was philosophical about being passed over, accepting that an up-and-down first full season in the sport hadn’t been enough to convince Ferrari to give him the drive.

Giovinazzi was taken on by the Ferrari Driver Academy in 2017, leading to two race drives with Sauber that year. After a 2018 spent as Ferrari and Sauber’s test driver, the Italian was then handed a full season with Alfa Romeo in 2019, taking nine races to score his first points before his performances improved relative to veteran team mate Kimi Raikkonen.

READ MORE: Giovinazzi targeting top 10 consistency for 2020

But speaking to Sky Sports F1, Giovinazzi admitted that experience, or a lack of it, probably led to him being overlooked for one of the biggest seats in F1, as the drive went to McLaren’s Carlos Sainz.

“It was maybe not the right time, just after 23 Grands Prix,” Giovinazzi replied when asked if he was disappointed not to have got the Ferrari drive. “Of course, if the Ferrari call came this year, I would have gone straight away – but in my career, I always had some sliding doors [moments].

“I only had one season,” he added. “I know that Charles [Leclerc] also had one season and then went to Ferrari straight away, but from my side, I think if we look back, I struggled also in the second part of the season with the car, so [even though] I grew as a driver, the results were not really there.

“[But] I was really happy to be part of that list [of drivers] to have maybe that possibility to take that seat.”

READ MORE: Why Ferrari chose Sainz – and why he shouldn't be cast as Leclerc's wingman

Crashes like this one at Belgium last year wouldn't have helped Giovinazzi's cause when gunning for the second seat at Ferrari

Giovinazzi nonetheless remains part of the Ferrari family as the team’s reserve driver, as well as through his association with Alfa Romeo – and he is confident that if his career growth continues, opportunities at F1’s most storied team could present themselves in the future.

“I’m still part of Ferrari, and Mattia [Binotto, Ferrari Team Principal] says that they still follow me, and follow especially my career, which is something really great,” said Giovinazzi. “I’m sure if I can fight like I always did and do a lot of work like I’m doing now… I know that I’m still a Ferrari driver, so I’m sure I can have maybe a future opportunity.”

READ MORE: 9 things you might not know about Antonio Giovinazzi

Giovinazzi will now gear up for the opening double header of races at the Red Bull Ring, beginning on July 5 – and admitted he had mixed feelings about the prospect of scoring points as the revised 2020 season finally begins...

“Last year at the Red Bull Ring, I scored my first points but I lost also a little bit of my hair,” said Giovinazzi, referring to a bet with Fred Vasseur which meant the Alfa Romeo Team Principal could cut the Italian’s hair after he took his first top 10 finish. “So this year, they’ve started to say already now that if it will happen again at the Red Bull Ring, they will cut again my hair. I need for sure to score points – but not lose too much hair!”

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