Italian Antonio Giovinazzi has been named as Ferrari's third driver for the upcoming 2017 season, confirmed president Sergio Marchionne. The 23-year-old, who currently competes in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship, reportedly turned down the advances of Mercedes to sign up with the Italian giant.
Giovinazzi has been touted as one of the rising stars in the sport and finished second in the Formula 3 Championship where he managed 20 podium finishes from 33 races. The Italian also impressed the bosses at Ferrari when he worked with their simulator in September and has also won the Masters of Formula 3 gala event in the past.
"I can confirm that in 2017 he (Giovinazzi) will be out third driver. We took him because he is a great driver, but I am very pleased also that he is Italian", Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne said, as quoted by Express.
The Italian was reportedly approached by Mercedes, the winners of constructors championship last year. If Giovinazzi races in the Formula one race circuit this year, he would become the first Italian driver to drive a Ferrari in a Formula One Grand Prix since Giancarlo Fisichella who did it in 2009.
However, Giovinazzi will start the 2017 season as back-up to first choice drivers German Sebastian Vettel and Finland's Kimi Raikkonen. Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene recently confirmed that the youngster will kick off with the team's simulator program in January next year and is also expected to drive the 2017 car during in-season testing.
The 2017 Formula One season is scheduled to start on 26 March, with the first race taking place at the Albert Park Circuit, in Melbourne Australia.