GP2 racer and reserve Red Bull driver Antonio Giovinazzi has been announced to join Sauber F1 team for the 2019 Formula 1 season. The racer will be joining Kimi Raikkonen in the pits, who recently announced his switch from Scuderia Ferrari to Sauber next year. Giovinazzi replaces Marcus Ericsson at Sauber, who will be shifting to a new role a Sauber. Announcing its decision to bring Giovinazzi onboard, the team said that the move fitted the "tradition of discovering and nurturing young talents" and "is particularly significant in the scope of the project."
Speaking about his promotion, Giovinazzi said, "This is a dream come true, and it is a great pleasure to have the chance to race for this team. As an Italian, it is a huge honour for me to represent a brand as iconic and successful as Alfa Romeo in our sport."
Giovinazzi has had his experience behind the seat of the Sauber F1 car and raced for the team twice last season as stand-in for the injured Pascal Wehrlein. He 24-year-old as also the runner-up to 2019 Red Bull Racing driver Pierre Gasly in the 2016 GP2 title race.
This year, Giovinazzi is carrying out a programme of Friday Grand Prix practice outing with the team, and also tested for Haas and Sauber. This will be Giovinazzi's first full-time racing opportunity since GP2 Racing in 2016.
Speaking on bringing Giovinazzi onboard, Sauber F1 Team principal Frederic Vasseur said, "We first signed Kimi Raikkonen, 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."
Ferrari gets to choose the driver for one seat at Sauber. The Italian marque team brought Charles Leclerc last year to Sauber, and his seat has now been taken by Antonio Giovinazzi. Raikkonen's deal was independent of Maranello.
Marcus Ericsson, meanwhile, departs from Sauber after four seasons after joining from Caterham in 2015. Ericsson will now move to the role of third driver and brand ambassador for the team alongside Raikkonen and Giovinazzi, Sauber announced.