Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur said that Antonio Giovinazzi’s late crash in the Belgian GP last year almost cost him his seat.
The Italian competed in his first full F1 season in 2019, and after a poor first half of the season where he was outclassed by team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, Giovinazzi would step it up after the summer break and earned himself an extension for the 2020 campaign.
But, that extension very nearly didn’t happen after he crashed out of the Belgian GP on the penultimate lap – as it happened his P9 in Italy a week later was what saved him.
“It [the crash at Spa] 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.
“A lot of pressure, tons of guests, Alfa Romeo’s home race, he will have the press conference so plenty of questions about Spa. “OK, so now it’s time to react. I think he did a very good job, the pressure was there.
“In Monza and Singapore he did well – it was good to have Antonio leading the race. It was a very good reaction.”
And Vasseur believes Monza was the catalyst for a more consistent Giovinazzi in race trim for the second half of the season. An improvement made more impressive by the fact that Alfa’s pace diminished through 2019.
“In my mind it was very important how Antonio reacted in Monza,” he reiterated. “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 team-mates 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.
“It is difficult to have a proper analysis if you’re not involved in the day-by-day. Somehow you relieve a weight from the shoulders.”
Giovinazzi recorded his best finish to date with P5 in the 2019 Brazilian GP.