Vallelunga, 7 April – It was always going to be Antonio Fuoco’s debut weekend in the Formula Renault 2.0 category, but in the end it also turned out to be the weekend for his maiden win. It came in the second race of the weekend at Vallelunga, the circuit which was hosting the first round of the Formula Renault Alps championship. The signs were already promising after Fuoco finished second in race 1 and these two results mean the Ferrari Driver Academy youngster heads the championship table after the opening round.
Thirty seven cars took to the track, proving to be very closely matched, which was not going to make life easy for the newcomers to the category. However, already in the three free practice sessions on Friday, Fuoco was a consistent top ten runner, on a wet track as well as in the dry. Antonio was fastest in his qualifying group, thus starting on the front row, alongside the pole man, his Prema team-mate, Bruno Bonifacio.
The first race was also a happy hunting ground for the team from Venice. The Brazilian Bonifacio made the most of starting from pole, taking the lead at the start and keeping it all the way to the chequered flag. Fuoco dealt with any pre-race nerves making a start that wasn’t perfect but was still good enough to see him run second after the first few metres. Antonio did a good job of managing the various stages of the race, closing on Bonifacio, while fending off those behind. In the end, he secured an important second place, which saw him make it to the Vallelunga podium for the first time.
However, no one really could have thought that, 24 hours later Fuoco would manage to go one better. As race 2 got underway, he slipped into third place, following the leading pair of Bonifacio and Nyck De Vries. On lap 7, De Vries speared into Bonifacio’s car, which put both men out of the race. That handed the lead to Fuoco, who drove like a veteran for the remaining six laps to take a memorable win ahead of team-mate Luca Ghiotto. Fuoco thus leaves Vallelunga leading the championship on 43 points, with Ghiotto second on 28.
“I couldn’t ask for more from this weekend! I would have been very happy to make it to the podium, but in the space of a few hours I was able to celebrate my first win and take the lead in the championship. In race 2, I was lucky to get the opportunity to move into the lead and from then on, I just concentrated on not making any mistakes and finishing what seemed like a very long race to me. A day like this is not just down to me, it’s down to all the people who have helped me so much, without whom this result would not have been possible. I owe a lot to the Prema team and the whole Ferrari Driver Academy organization, with whom I’ve worked very closely throughout the winter. A special mention and thanks to all my friends from Carati who came to support me. Seeing them under the podium was a further cause for satisfaction.”
Luca Baldisserri, Head of the FDA.
“You couldn’t imagine a better start to the season, especially when you look at how strong the field was here in Vallelunga. Antonio knew how to take the chance that came his way in race 2, with a very calm approach and over the whole weekend he put in a great performance. We know there’s still work to do, given we are talking about a lad who is just sixteen years old, but I’m sure that a start like this will be a great boost for the coming challenges. The whole Prema crew also deserve a round of applause, as the team as a whole obtained an amazing points haul. When there are thirty seven cars on track, monopolising the top two places is only possible with a meticulous approach and plenty of hard work.”