Giovinazzi can change his life on Sunday

Former F1 driver Vitantonio Liuzzi has hailed the return to the grid of an Italian driver.

Liuzzi, and his countryman Jarno Trulli, were the last two Italians in F1, but that changed suddenly in Melbourne when Antonio Giovinazzi got the shock call to replace unfit Pascal Wehrlein at Sauber.

Liuzzi, now 36 and a GT driver, told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "I truly believe Antonio deserves this wonderful opportunity.

"He showed last year in GP2 that he is more deserving of other drivers who enjoy better financial resources," he added.

The F1 paddock also collectively hailed Giovinazzi's first qualifying session on Saturday, as he came tantalisingly close to beating his teammate Marcus Ericsson.

"Maybe with a few laps I could have done it, but he has been racing for many years," said Giovinazzi.

"I'm still a little sorry because I really wanted to beat Marcus, but my dream of racing in formula one comes true and I can only thank Ferrari and Sauber for the opportunity."

Liuzzi also said Giovinazzi's effort in almost beating Ericsson was admirable.

"Ericsson is not the most rated driver in the paddock," he said, "but I really believe Antonio did a great job because he didn't even drive on Friday.

"Now he must absolutely take the chequered flag because in F1 you do not get many opportunities. So my advice is to prove on the track that he deserves a seat.

"These are the chances that can change your life," Liuzzi added.

(GMM)

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