Raffaele Marciello didn’t wait long to take on the mantle of leader of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. The series got underway at Monza and out of the three races held over the weekend, the Ferrari Driver Academy student took two wins and a second place.
This level of success surpassed even the high hopes going into the event and it is down to all the hard work over the winter months carried out by Marciello, his Prema team and the FDA staff. Conditions were tricky because of heavy rain and Marciello did not enjoy the best of luck in the first qualifying session, with slipstreaming, always a vital part of setting a quick time at the high speed Monza track, not going to plan.
Nevertheless, he still managed to scrape in two good times which meant he started third and second respectively on the grid for the first two races. In the second qualifying session, to determine the grid for race 2, Raffaele took a dominant pole, which confirmed his strong showing in pre-season testing.
In the first race of the Monza weekend, Marciello got a perfect start from the second row which took him into the lead in the braking area for the first Variante. He then set a blistering pace, keeping his pursuers a comfortable distance away, despite the difficulties of making a break when slipstreaming causes the field to bunch up. “Lello” had a relatively trouble free time on his way to a convincing first win of the season.
The second race of the Monza weekend was definitely more lively. The Race Director sent out the Safety Car because of the heavy rain and when it pulled into the pit lane, Marciello was running behind the leader, Pascal Wehrlein, before the German made a small mistake, which allowed Raffaele to move into the lead. Victory already seemed assured, but with five laps to go, a backmarker drastically slowed Marciello, to the extent that the lead he had built over Wehrlein was wiped out.
The FDA driver also encountered electrical troubles which meant the gearbox wasn’t working correctly and, at this point, the team radioed Marciello not to take excessive risks, given that Wehrlein is not due to take part in any other rounds of this 2013 championship. Therefore, “Lello” did not insist too much when he came under attack from the German and settled for second place.
Marciello then redeemed himself in the third and final race of the meeting. Once again, the Race Director released the field behind the Safety Car because of the persistent rain and when the racing began, Raffaele took the lead. After eight laps, the Race Director stopped the race early on safety grounds.
At the end of the opening round of the season, Marciello leads the championship on 55.5 points ahead of Wehrlein (49,) Tincknell (24,) Auer (24) and Lynn (19.5.) The next round takes place at Silverstone over 13 and 14 April.
Luca Baldisserri, head of the FDA
“The Monza weekend was very gratifying in terms of the overall result. The very difficult weather conditions could have changed the hierarchy, but Raffaele and the team knew how to adapt to every change in the conditions, always responding in a very positive fashion. It’s a good start, but the season is very long and we will continue to work to our plan. In Monza, there were 30 cars on the grid and this adds to the calibre of the championship, making it more difficult to stand out. It’s a challenge we face with enthusiasm, aware that we can be in the fight for the title right to the end.”
“The outcome of the weekend was nothing but positive, given that, in terms of points, two wins and a second place delivered a good haul. Unfortunately, the rules state that fewer points were assigned for race 3, because it did not go the full distance, while in race 2, I was slowed a lot by a backmarker, which compromised my chances of winning. I don’t think it would be wrong to say that three wins on full points were within our grasp, but this is good too. The track conditions in the second and third races were very difficult, but everything went very well. We knew we would be competitive on a dry track and then the rain meant we were able to evaluate our potential in the wet and the overall result was even better than expected.”