Former Alfa Romeo Formula 1 driver Antonio Giovinazzi will drive for the Dragon Penske Formula E team in 2022 after talks with Daniil Kvyat recently broke down.
The Race first revealed the news on Tuesday morning, five hours before the deal was officially announced, having learned that recent discussions between the Jay Penske-owned team and the outgoing Alfa Romeo F1 racer, who is represented by manager Enrico Zanarini, had taken place.
Two hours after The Race’s initial Giovinazzi-to-FE story, Alfa Romeo announced Giovinazzi’s exit from its F1 line-up, with confirmation that Guanyu Zhou will graduate from Formula 2 to replace him following soon afterwards.
“Saying goodbye to a driver is never easy, especially so in the case of Antonio, who has been part of the team for so long,” said Alfa team principal Frederic Vasseur.
“As we part ways, we will cherish the memories of the good times and learn lessons from the bad ones, knowing these moments all made us grow together as a team.
“We wish Antonio the best for his future after the 2021 season: before then, we still have three races to achieve some good results together and finish the year strongly.”
It is believed that a concerted drive to sign Giovinazzi for Dragon was supported by senior Formula E executives, including its chairman Alejandro Agag – who has previously been influential in several deals for ex-F1 drivers to move into Formula E. These include Esteban Gutierrez in 2017 and Felipe Massa in 2018.
Agag and Formula E chief championship officer and deputy CEO Alberto Longo attended last weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos and are known to have spoken to the Giovinazzi camp.
Dragon Penske had already confirmed on Monday night that Sergio Sette Camara will stay in the #7 Penske EV-5 for a second full season, after impressing in several races in his first full campaign during 2021.
Giovinazzi will make his test debut with Dragon at FE’s official 2022 pre-season test at the end of November, although he will not be able to run at all three days.
The test sits between the Qatar and Saudi Arabian grands prix so it is logistically possible for Giovinazzi to drive for two of the three days of running before he heads to Jeddah.
The 27-year-old’s only previous Formula E experience came from testing the Virgin Racing car during the first rookie test at Marrakesh in 2018 when he was an F1 reserve.
Later that year Giovinazzi was in brief negotiations with Mahindra Racing about the possibility of replacing Nick Heidfeld at the team for the 2018-19 season. But these came to nought after an opening at Alfa became available when Charles Leclerc moved to Ferrari.
Previous Dragon contender Kvyat had also spoken to the Nissan e.dams’ team in July, but a desire on the Kvyat camp’s side to wait as long as possible for potential F1 roles, and Nissan’s insistence on confirming its drivers as soon as possible for 2022, negated the possibility of an agreement. Maximilian Guenther was subsequently chosen to partner Sebastien Buemi at the team for 2022.
Dragon Penske’s talks with the Russian’s manager Nicolas Todt had been ongoing since at least August but a deal is believed to have not been possible for the 2022 season.
The team then cast its net elsewhere and is known to have had discussions with both Dan Ticktum and Alex Lynn.
While Lynn ruled himself out of a move to the team at a very early stage, Ticktum is still believed to be pursuing a Formula E debut next season, but this is now thought more likely to be with the NIO 333 team.
The Race revealed last week that Tom Blomqvist will not continue with the team in 2022.
Dragon Penske has also launched a recruitment drive in recent weeks after several departures recently.
Both of its 2021 race engineers, Marco Fuga and Jamie Gomeche, have left the team, with the former having joined Toyota’s works motorsport programme.
This has resulted in former performance engineer Connor Summerville having been promoted to a race engineering role for the coming season.