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Giovinazzi thrilled with P7 grid slot as Alfa super-sub Kubica says he took it safe after late call-up

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Seventh place was a standout qualifying performance from Antonio Giovinazzi at Zandvoort and the Alfa Romeo driver says he intends to replicate it on Sunday.

Giovinazzi has only reached Q3 on one previous occasion this season, qualifying tenth in Monaco, but he comfortably bettered that with a stunning lap in the Netherlands. Much like Monte Carlo, Zandvoort is expected to be tough for overtaking and the Italian sees it as an opportunity to convert his starting position into strong points.

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“[The aim is] keep the position,” Giovinazzi said. “We start from a good position in P7, I know something can happen in the front so we’ll see, but for sure the target is to keep P7.

“This year is really difficult to understand what track can be for us, yesterday from FP1 it felt the car is here and we had a good pace, it helps build up confidence with the track and the car and you can put it together in quali.”

The performance is a well-timed one as Giovinazzi is facing scrutiny over his future, with Alfa Romeo linked with a number of other drivers.

“For sure it will help but we know how it is Formula 1, I did my best, the race is tomorrow, but we did the right way. It’s been like this from 2019 – September for me is quite busy. But I say many times if I do my job I will keep my seat and this is what I did in the last two years.”

Giovinazzi was joined by Robert Kubica for the rest of the Dutch Grand Prix weekend after a positive COVID-19 test result for Kimi Raikkonen, and his new team mate – who only found out he was driving on Saturday morning – admitted it is a tough situation to deal with even for someone as experienced as he is.

2021 Dutch GP FP3: Kubica returns at Zandvoort

“You are prepared because it’s written in your contract and you know your position very well,” Kubica said. “But to be honest maybe I’m too old but I never really thought it might happen. Of course you know there is a chance it happens but you don’t really want it to happen because in the end it would mean something happens with your team mate. But that’s part of the game, part of my position in the team.

“It’s difficult to say you're prepared when you are jumping in the car every three or four months. Especially this year I struggled more with the car. Last year I had much more confidence, I was able to not drive for three months, jump in and within a couple of laps I was on the pace – even surprisingly good on the pace.

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“This year a combination of tyres probably, cars, also I think today is quite windy. So you have to learn the track, the grip was coming and going, it is not an easy track. For sure if it would be in Bahrain everything would be much more simple, but we are in Zandvoort and I am quite happy. The reality is that for the third time I’m back on the F1 grid.”

After qualifying in 18th place – 11 positions behind Giovinazzi – Kubica admitted he was perhaps too cautious at times but felt he had little to gain by taking too many risks.

Robert Kubica: Not an easy day in Dutch GP qualifying but 'happy to be here'

“I think it’s also a combination of what car I’m driving in the other series. The last time I did qualifying was last year, the last race of DTM, so I have not even been in qualifying once this year. But the last run was a real shame because I really felt like I could improve a lot and was looking forward, but I had a lot of traffic on the out lap at a very slow pace.

“Then I arrived at the last corner to open the lap, I locked the fronts and then had snap oversteer on exit. Then I said ‘OK now I don’t know what will happen at the first corner’. So I took it safe, in fact the grip was not there but of course if you try to force the car you switch on the tyres faster. If you stay on the defensive it takes four or five corners. Also there I don’t know how quickly and how well they will work.

HIGHLIGHTS: Catch up on all the action from qualifying for the Dutch GP at Zandvoort

“So it's always running behind the schedule to be honest and those things you can’t gain or learn from the book, or you cannot find them at the supermarket otherwise this morning I would have bought quite a lot of knowledge. But that’s part of the game.

“I think all in all, wind, track, the conditions we have been in and the safe approach, it has been a smooth Saturday which in my position is probably the most important thing.”

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