Antonio Giovinazzi will return to Formula 1 with two FP1 outings for Haas during the final nine race weekends of the season.
The Italian was released by Alfa Romeo at the end of the 2021 campaign as Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou replaced Giovinazzi and the retiring Kimi Raikkonen.
Having made his opinion known that F1 is “ruthless” and too driven by money, with Zhou rumoured to have been brought in because of his sponsorship connections, Giovinazzi moved on to Formula E.
But the 2022 season was anything but a strong introduction to the electric series for the 28-year-old as he struggled from his first testing session onwards, being the only regular driver among the 22 not to score a point.
Giovinazzi now, however, has something familiar to look forward to in the form of a couple of free practice appearances back in F1.
They will be at the home event for himself, the Italian Grand Prix, on Friday September 9, and for the team, the United States Grand Prix, on Friday October 21.
It is not the first time Giovinazzi, a Ferrari reserve driver, will have been in a Haas cockpit. He drove seven free practice sessions for the team in 2017, having raced for Sauber in the two opening grands prix of that campaign.
“We are happy to welcome Antonio Giovinazzi back to the team for the two FP1 outings,” said Haas team principal Guenther Steiner.
“Ferrari were keen to give Antonio some seat time in a current-spec Formula 1 car on a race weekend and we were naturally happy to assist.
“We enjoyed a similar situation back in 2017 with Antonio and Ferrari – the clear difference between then and now is the experience he will have gained competing for the previous three seasons in Formula 1 and the feedback he will be able to give us in Italy and America.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Antonio again and having him back in the paddock with us.”
Giovinazzi added: “I’m so glad to have the chance to drive again in official F1 sessions.
“Besides simulator driving, it is important to test a true car and I can’t wait to put my suit and helmet back on. It will be an opportunity to get confident with the new generation cars – it’s the best way to be ready if I were called as reserve driver.
“Driving on challenging and exciting tracks as Monza and COTA makes it even more thrilling. Thanks to Haas F1 Team and Scuderia Ferrari – I’m looking forward to giving my contribution to the team that counted on me already in 2017.”
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) August 22, 2022
Could Antonio Giovinazzi make a full-time return to F1?
It is only speculation at this stage, but might these FP1 opportunities mean Giovinazzi could take Mick Schumacher’s seat for 2023?
If so, and Ferrari want Giovinazzi in at Haas alongside Magnussen, it could mean Schumacher is being lined up for something bigger – possibly at Alpine.
Although he was not covering himself in glory earlier this term with a series of crashes, the 23-year-old did his stock a great deal of credit with two strong points-scoring performances in Britain and Austria during July.
Alpine are seeking a driver to partner Esteban Ocon after news of Fernando Alonso’s move to Aston Martin and the very public rejection by Oscar Piastri.
It is highly doubtful Ferrari, who are closely connected with Haas, would want to leave Schumacher on the sidelines by accommodating a Giovinazzi comeback, so does it mean something exciting is afoot for the German?