Antonio Giovinazzi expressed delight at his debut qualifying performance having been called up at short notice to drive for Sauber this weekend.
The Ferrari reserve driver was called up to take Pascal Wehrlein’s place when the Sauber driver decided he had still not fully recovered from his Race of Champions crash injuries.
Giovinazzi came close to progressing beyond the first stage of qualifying but missed the cut by two-tenths of a second.
“That is a special day for me kicking off my first Formula One grand prix weekend,” he said.
“I am really happy with my performance today, I was just a few tenths away from Q2.”
Giovinazzi goes into tomorrow’s 58-lap Australian Grand Prix having only done 26 laps of the track so far today.
“It will be a long race tomorrow,” he admitted. “A lot can happen here in Melbourne. I will do my best to put in my maximum performance.”
Giovinazzi will be the first Italian driver to participate in an F1 race since Vitantonio Liuzzi and Jarno Trulli retired at the end of 2011.
2017 F1 season
- Stripping Verstappen of 2017 US podium was “one of the toughest decisions” – steward
- Sepang pays Haas compensation for Grosjean’s 2017 crash
- Williams revenues rose in 2017 after Bottas deal with Mercedes
- New kerbs at COTA in response to Verstappen’s corner-cutting
- Australian Grand Prix cost government £56 million last year