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The Specialist

Antonio Giovinazzi

Alfa Romeo Racing’s ANTONIO GIOVINAZZI has an uphill battle for his first full-time campaign with teammate, 2007 F1 World Champion, Kimi Räikkönen. We caught up with the 25-year-old to discuss…

Antonio Giovinazzi may be living the dream as the first full-time Italian racer on the Formula 1 grid since Jarno Trulli and Tonio Liuzzi in 2011, and at an Italian-branded team in Alfa Romeo Racing, but he’ll need to keep his head down if he’s to stay there — with Kimi Räikkönen in the sister car.

The 2007 F1 World Champion may not be the same relentless, razor-sharp, heat-seeking missile he once was at McLaren, but Räikkönen is still consistent, and a tenacious point scorer. Something Giovinazzi will need to match week-in, week-out to retain his drive into 2020 and beyond. The talent, from Martina Franca, also needs to rise above his former reputation as a crasher, having shunted twice in China 2017 — his second of two races as a fill-in at Swiss team Sauber. But he’s outqualified Räikkönen three times in the first nine races, up to Austria, and things are looking stronger and it’s noticeable in his outward confidence.Has the team paid more interest in Kimi Räikkönen’s feedback so far?

I think the team did a fantastic job during the tests. They listened to Kimi and I. We are two different drivers, so I need something and Kimi [also] needs something. But I’m sure we did a good job in winter tests and I hope we work really well.

Is your setup direction different to Kimi’s?
For sure — Kimi has more experience than me but, so far, the team is doing a fantastic job listening to both of us. This is what the team will continue to do during the season.

How did you up your game for your full-time debut?
I’m a different driver compared to 2017. I had two years in the background with Ferrari doing a lot of work in the simulator but also testing with Pirelli, FP1s with Sauber. So I’m a different driver, mentally for sure I’m more relaxed now because I know I will have my season. I can try to improve race by race but I will approach the race weekend in a different way.

How useful was this period off the grid?
To be a top [F1] driver is not really easy because you don’t have a lot of miles on the car, but the simulator is the way to train and the way to stay in the car. For sure, it’s not the same thing to being in the car, but it’s something really good to improve yourself [with]. Also, with the feedback you give to the team and everything. But, in the end, I also did some FP1s last year and in 2017, so I’m sure I’m more ready than what I was then.

You’ve got great management, in F1 veteran Enrico Zanarini. How has he helped you to get back to the grid?
I have a good team behind me, and this is something really good to feel from a driver’s side. But, in the end, I’m in the car by myself, so everything I will do is from my side. I did a lot of training back home before the winter tests, and I tried to prepare the best for my first Grand Prix.

Your predecessor, Charles Leclerc, had an easier challenge in teammate Marcus Ericsson. How do you feel about the match-up with the Iceman?
I think to have Kimi for a teammate is a help. For me, Kimi can be a teacher but also a reference during the season. So this is something really good. But we need to just work together really well, and try to improve the car really fast and try to get a lot of points for the team. This will be my main target, and I think the target of Kimi.

Singapore is not far away, and while it’s a wonderful event for fans — it’s also a tough challenge for the drivers. How have you prepared for it?
I know it’s the hardest track, and the hardest conditions for driver that we have. I need to just make sure that during the summertime I will not just take a rest, but still working really hard to make sure I will be ready for Singapore, like the physical side. ■

STUNNING SINGAPORE

An instant classic from when it joined the calendar in 2008, the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix continues to inspire as one of the world’s great motorsport events — one that goes far beyond the racing, with the hottest acts live on stage, interactive entertainment and parties galore.

On-track, it’s a feast for the eyes — with F1, and a host of thrilling support categories, going wheel-to-wheel under lights around the glamorous streets of Marina Bay. The world’s finest racers under maximum pressure — not only with cockpit temperatures soaring up to 60 degrees Celsius at racing speeds, but with the F1 World Championship on the line.

Once the racing finishes, the hot tunes begin — with Singapore renowned for its epic entertainment line-ups. And 2019 is no different with six-time Grammy Award winners, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, leading the Singapore event’s stellar 12th edition line-up, alongside Swedish House Mafia, Muse, Gwen Stefani, Fatboy Slim, Hans Zimmer and Toots and the Maytals.

It’s an awesome post-winter getaway from Australia, with the short flight and weekend format making it easy on annual leave — and accommodation, dining, and sightseeing options all within reach of the Circuit Park. There’s also an option for any budget with single day-walkabout and grandstand tickets starting from SG$98 (approx. AUD$100), and single-day hospitality packages from SG$1592 (approx. AUD$1638).

The 2018 FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX will be held from September 20-22. For more information go to singaporegp.sg

BY STEWART BELL

For the full article grab the August 2019 issue of MAXIM Australia from newsagents and convenience locations. Subscribe here.

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Olivia Caneva

At First Sight