Antonio Giovinazzi has admitted his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen remains such an outstanding competitor he needs “a perfect weekend” to beat him.
Alfa Romeo have confirmed they will retain their driver line-up for a third consecutive year in 2021 with Raikkonen, 41, partnering Giovinazzi who is 15 years his junior.
The duo are locked together in the drivers’ World Championship standings this season, each having provided an equal share towards their team’s eight constructors’ points.
But although there is nothing to separate them, Giovinazzi remains in awe of his former World Champion colleague’s performances – such as when the Finn produced a stunning first couple of laps to gain 10 places in the recent Portuguese Grand Prix.
“In my eyes, Kimi continues to be one of the best, or maybe even the best, at dividing a race, how to use the tyres from the first to the last lap. And I saw what he did on the first lap at Portimao,” said Giovinazzi in an interview published by Motorsport-total.com.
“I’ve heard many journalists say that at his age he has reached the end of his Formula 1 career. But I can confirm that every time he comes to the track, he is very motivated and ready to take a top-spot fight.
“And if I see the goal ahead of him, it’s only because I had a perfect weekend.
“Kimi has a lot of experience and that helps a lot. It allows him to get the most out of the car, especially in the race.”
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Nevertheless, despite his admiration for Raikkonen, the Italian is also aware of what he himself contributes to the team – which has certainly been enough for Alfa Romeo to keep faith with him following speculation that he would be replaced.
“We are both important to the team,” said Giovinazzi. “My results naturally contributed to my contract extension. What we achieve, we achieve through the co-operation that Kimi and I maintain.
“I’ve always emphasised that our driving style is pretty similar. That can help the team to develop the car more quickly because we are on the same wavelength when it comes to our comments in the meetings.
“We hope to be able to increase our points a little so that we can keep fighting for P8 in the constructors’ Championship.”