March 19, 2014 in F1
This article comes from Nathan Hine.
As another thrilling season of GP2 and GP3 drew to a close, post season testing at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi was about to begin at sunset last November.
One of the main faces at the test was Racing Engineering’s Raffaele Marciello: the 18-year old Italian racer who won the FIA European Formula 3 championship in 2013.
As well as setting the fastest lap time on the second day of post-season testing. This prompted in Marciello being awarded a GP2 drive with Racing Engineering for the upcoming 2014 GP2 season.
What is truly special about this Italian racer: he is just another young hopeful wanting to make another step along the Motor Racing ladder in pursuit of Formula 1 isn’t he? Well let’s find out.
It is the 13th May 1950 and the brand new era of Motor Racing is about to begin as the first ever F1 grand prix is about to begin at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. This is with Nino Farina in his Alfa Romeo 158 taking pole position that afternoon and as the Italian craze was ever- building at Silverstone F1 was about to commence.
Farina guided his beloved Alfa to victory for the first ever F1 grand prix. This makes Italy pretty special doesn’t it?
Fifty-six years later at sultry Malaysia for round two of the 2006 world championship and Giancarlo Fisichella guided his Renault R26 to a charismatic and proud victory on 19th March 2006. This was the last time an Italian racing driver ever set foot on the top step of the F1 podium to date.
This for me is sad because Italy being such a key motor racing country. This is with Italy being able to produce stars such as Nino Farina, Alberto Ascari, Michele Alboreto and Giancarlo Fisichella.
This is on top of having the biggest team of them all competing at the forefront of F1: Ferrari which thereby makes the lack of Italian drivers in F1 a disgraceful attribute for F1 and motorsport in general. Therefore, up until now Italian racing drivers’ have had nothing to embrace ever since Fisichella’s last podium at Spa Francorchamps in 2009. Rather I say that they didn’t up until Marciello arrived.
The speedy, bright and youthful racer will make his first ever appearance in the GP2 series at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain on the 4th-6th April 2014 for his first weekend in the F1 feeder series: GP2. This was due to Marciello proving his worth and showing immense talent in the junior categories up until now.
Marciello needs to continue to show his profound ability behind the wheel, as being a Ferrari young driver as part of their academy he needs to show that he very much is part of the next generation of Ferrari F1.
This confidence is shared by his new employers Racing Engineering when the president of Racing Engineering Alfonso de Orléans- Borbón, gave this quote:
“I am proud of the choice to race with Raffaele this year and confident that his past experience and support of the Ferrari Driver Academy will be a benefit for Racing Engineering in our targets for the season. This confidence is also a result of the efforts and great amount of work that this team has been producing during these last years.”
“With this, we are very happy to have among our ranks the current European F3 champion for the 2014 season, something that will motivate us even more to equal, if not improve, the results in GP2 that Racing Engineering had last season”
This shows that not only Ferrari and Italy believe that he could produce huge success in Motor Racing now and for the future in F1. As well as this Racing Engineering (his new employers for the 2014 season) have faith that Raffaele Marciello could be the next Fernando Alonso.
This is as Raffaele’s impressive performances in F3 last season on his way to the world championship have shown to his new employers his driving potential and the performances he is able to deliver ahead of the following season. Also, with Marciello having the advantage of being backed by the Ferrari young driver’s programme, if he is able to prove himself in GP2 it will only be a matter of time before Marciello wears red in the big arena and drives for the prancing horse for the very first time.
Marciello’s speed, accuracy and precision is ever improving because time and time again he shows that he can adapt to every situation: whilst he was under-pressure at the post-season test last November he was able to set a blistering pace as well as providing his new employers with consistent and reliable data in a Formula and on a track that he has never driven before. The young Swiss-Italian’s response after the test in Abu Dhabi was as follows:
“Testing in November went really well, even though I had no previous knowledge of the car, the track or the tyres. I immediately felt comfortable in the car and the track and I was competitive. On top of that, right from the start I got on well with the team, so in general I am very pleased.”
“This year will be my first season in GP2 and I expect to be up against a lot of strong and very experienced drivers. I will have to get that experience and learn new tracks. My team is very strong and thanks to the work I’ve done with the Ferrari Driver Academy I am sure I can do well.”
Racing Engineering rookie Raffaele Marciello at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi at pre-season testing on Wednesday 12th March 2014. Photograph taken by Malcom Griffiths
This will let Marciello do what he does best: perform at his absolute peak in a really fast racing car. So, Nasr; Coletti; Evans be prepared as Marciello is on the prowl and is surely ready to fight for the GP2 championship this season.
Whether he can prove himself and master GP2 is another question altogether. As many who have mastered F3 before him, have struggled at the final hurdle.
After supreme backing from Ferrari has helped guide him to GP2, and after Marciello has been provided with a car, in red that Marciello could potentially fight for the title in. Can Marciello overcome the final hurdle and go to the big arena to try and claim the championship in red there too, which would send the world wild as the last Italian to win a grand prix was n 2006, never mind the championship.
But this boy has the potential to rewrite the history books. So, Marciello… the world is watching YOU..!