Antonio Giovinazzi feels more ready to move up to a full-time seat in Formula 1 than he did twelve months ago as the Italian continues to be linked to the Sauber F1 Team for 2018.
The 2016 GP2 Series runner-up has been the reserve driver for Scuderia Ferrari this season, and also made two race appearances with Sauber at the beginning of 2017 as well as a number of free practice appearances with the Haas F1 Team.
Giovinazzi feels he has learned enough in 2018 to prepare him for a potential Formula 1 seat, and possibly alongside fellow Ferrari star and 2017 FIA Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc, he could be on the grid for Sauber next season.
“The year gave me more than I expected,” said Giovinazzi to La Gazetta dello Sport. “I do not hide that after a great year in GP2, I felt ready to race a full season in F1, but that’s how it is.
“But now I feel even much more prepared than I did last winter.”
Giovinazzi was thrown into the deep end in the season opening Australian Grand Prix in March when he replaced the injured Pascal Wehrlein but did an impressive job, only for his second Grand Prix in China be affected by heavy crashes in both Qualifying and the race, something he was lambasted for in the press.
“In Australia I had a great time but China was the worst weekend of my entire career as a driver,” said Giovinazzi. “It happened to me on the most important stage when I had all the media pressure on me. Critics attacked me a lot.
“I understand better that you always have to keep your feet on the ground. I do not want to say that it went to my head, but perhaps in China I set goals that were bigger than I could do at that time.
“You have to be aware of your limitations and that everything comes to you in time. But the disappointment has helped me to grow.”
Giovinazzi feels he would deserve to be on the grid next season, and he continues to be amazed by his inclusion in the Ferrari set-up, and he feels their Maranello base is like his home now.
“Because, like so many others, myself and my family have made great sacrifices to get me here,” said the Italian. “F1 is not football, where you can play for many teams.
“Here there are only 20 places in the world but I have always believed I could do it just like [Sebastian] Vettel and [Lewis] Hamilton, who also achieved great success from scratch. I can say that I’m still dreaming to follow [Michael] Schumacher.
“When I signed for Ferrari I could not believe it. I had always been a ‘gypsy’ in my single seater career but now I live near Maranello, I am almost every day at the factory and I feel at home now.”