Raffaele Marciello arrived in the GP2 Series as the 2013 FIA European Formula 3 Champion. He joined Spanish outfit Racing Engineering who took Fabio Leimer to last year’s Drivers’ championship crown, and a lot was expected of the young Italian driver, especially with him being a part of the Ferrari Driver Academy.
The season did not start as planned for the young Italian, with start line issues affecting him in the opening handful of races. But since Austria, the speed everyone knew was there has come to the fore, and Marciello has been a frontrunner in the series.
“In some ways this season is going very well, as I’ve been very quick, but there have been a lot of problems and I picked up only a few points, especially in the last races, but I’ve been very quick and I could have got a lot more,” said Marciello to The Checkered Flag. “The early races were pretty difficult. In Formula 3, you can push for the whole race but here you have to manage the situation a bit that was quite hard and I also had some problems with the starts. But it got better and things went well after Austria and qualifying went well from Barcelona so I was happy.
“It’s been a year of transition from Formula 3 to GP2. I’ve had to adapt my style in GP2 as the cars are much more powerful and you need to manage your tyres and be a lot less aggressive than in Formula 3. I was expecting to do better, but I’d say I’m on the road and have been able to show what I’m capable of.”
He made his debut in Bahrain in April, and took ninth on the grid for the Feature race in his first qualifying session, but in the initial races he was plagued by really bad starts. In the races in Bahrain, Spain and Monaco, his best result was twelfth in the Monaco Feature race.
It was Austria when everything finally came together for the Racing Engineering driver. He qualified an excellent fifth on the grid, and then put together a strong race to not only take his first points of the season but also his first podium. He followed that up by taking his second podium in the Sprint race on the Sunday.
“It was a great weekend even if I always think I could have done better as I had traffic on my quick lap in qualifying when I was aiming for pole position,” said Marciello. “Yes I got two podiums but I was expecting a little bit more.
“Before Austria I already felt comfortable and was already quick, even if the only problems I was having was with the starts, which affected my whole weekend. But apart from that, everything went well.”
He followed that up with a tremendous pole position at Silverstone, and led confidently before a technical issue just after his pit stop cost him the chance of his maiden win.
“The positives from Silverstone are that I started from pole and I was very quick. I took pole and led from the start until half distance when I had a problem.”
He was on for a good result in the Feature race last weekend in Hockenheim before an oil pressure issue cost him almost a minute in the pit lane during his compulsory stop. It means the Italian sits down in tenth in the championship, but he feels he should be higher up in the standings had it not been for the issues he’s faced this season.
“It’s true I’m only tenth, but I could have been much higher up but for the couple of weekends were I had problems,” insisted Marciello. “All I can do for the rest of the championship is do my best, do the maximum I can and hope to score a lot of points. I will try and win as many races as I can, and I hope the car will be reliable.”
Marciello admits to feeling comfortable within the Racing Engineering team, and has revealed the close working relationship he shares with his Monegasque team-mate Stefano Coletti.
“It’s a nice atmosphere and I feel very comfortable there,” admitted the Italian. “I work closely with my team-mate Stefano Coletti and we help one another to move forward.”
The nineteen-year-old admits he is proud to be a part of the Ferrari Driver Academy, and have the backing of the Formula 1 team as he makes his way through the ranks of motorsport.
“It means a lot to me, especially as I’m Italian,” said Marciello. “The FDA helps in me in every way possible, from the mental approach to the work in the gym and on the technical side, so it plays an important role.”