Alfa Romeo team boss Frédéric Vasseur says that Antonio Giovinazzi’s late crash in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa almost put the Italian’s F1 future in jeopardy.
Giovonazzi endured a difficult first half of 2019, with only a meager P10 finish in Austria to show for his efforts.
However, his fortunes appeared to be set for a turnaround in Belgium where a solid drive by the young Italian had put him on course for a 9th place finish. But a mistake on the penultimate lap quashed that prospect, and his team’s hopes.
“It was a big shock for everybody in the team because it was a good opportunity,” Vasseur told Motorsport.com.
“Antonio came back from nowhere, and on one of the last laps he had the crash.
“We had a tough discussion with Antonio, because these kind of things can decide your career. We were thinking about the future.
“We had to sit down the week after and we had to discuss about the situation, and he had a very good reaction.”
Indeed, despite massive pressure to perform, Giovinazzi made up for the blunder a week later at his home race in Monza where the 26-year-old raced as high as sixth and finished ninth.
The result – which coincided with Alfa’s own upturn in form – impressed Vasseur and went a long way towards securing his future with Alfa Romeo for 2020.
“A lot of pressure, tons of guests, Alfa Romeo’s home race, he had the press conference so plenty of questions about Spa,” remembers Vasseur.
“I think he did a very good job, the pressure was there. In my mind it was very important how Antonio reacted in Monza, that was the real push.
“The issue for Antonio was we were down on performance when he was on top.
“You can be in front of your teammates but [it is noticed less] if it’s for P14 or P15. If it’s sixth or seventh, everyone’s speaking about you.
“One thing is to show to the team and the other one is to score points because for you, for the paddock, everybody is just focused on results.”