2016 GP2 Year in Review: Antonio Giovinazzi
Despite a slow start in the opening two rounds, Antonio Giovinazzi quickly showed speed and good racecraft just to miss out on becoming the first rookie champion since Nico Hulkenberg in 2009.
Points: 211 (2nd)
Car No.: 20
Driver Name: Antonio Giovinazzi
Team Name:Prema Racing
Total Races: 22
Average Start: 7.4
Average Finish: 5.1
Starting something for the first time always requires learning and appreciating what you are doing. For Giovinazzi, his year started just like this.
A tough two opening rounds in Spain and Monaco saw him finish ninth and seventh, only for post-race penalties to take his first points away from him. The opening sprint race of the season also saw him have his first crash in GP2 – colliding with Campos Racing’s Sean Gelael and violently hitting the barriers at Turn 10.
He would quickly make sure that everyone knew his name with performances in the third round in Baku, claiming his first pole position before the race began.
Although the cars in the event seemed like bumper cars slipstreaming down the massive main straight, with many retirements as drama ensued, Giovinazzi took a double victory in the country and Prema took their first wins in the series and suddenly became the shock leading team.
In the second race of that weekend, he was in 22nd position at one point and had to pass his teammate Pierre Gasly from late in the race without the use of the Drag Reduction System (DRS) aid to give him a boost when within one second of the other Prema car.
With pole position, two wins and a fastest lap in the second race, he was just one fastest lap in the first race away from an unbelievable maximum score of 48 points.
However, his season became tougher again during the summer where he only claimed two podiums in nine races, scoring 31 points less than Gasly.
Gasly took three wins during this period, but the Italian would quickly emulate his achievements by winning the Belgian sprint race, Italian feature race and Malaysian feature race to set up a close end to the season.
He led the championship going into the final round, with 197 points compared to Gasly’s 190, but his teammate won the feature race, and Giovinazzi couldn’t find the speed to get a result to stop him stealing the championship over the weekend in Abu Dhabi.
His qualifying position of sixth compared to Gasly’s pole and the lack of setting fastest laps in the feature race, like his teammate did at times, ultimately hampered his hopes.
Highlight of 2016: Becoming the first driver since Davide Valsecchi in the 2012 Bahrain round to win both races at one circuit.
Downfall of 2016: Without his penalties in Spain and Monaco he would have had eight more points in the championship, and he would have won the title.
Notes for 2017: Nobody knows where he may end up in 2017 yet, but a seat in Formula One looks to be a rough thing to find for anyone. He is a driver with experience of the GP2 Series and sportscars, and racing in the World Endurance Championship or another type of car seems to be the most plausible option. It would be strange to see someone who came so close and is a champion in some fans eyes return for a second season.
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