Brazilian Pietro Fantin currently sits fifteenth in the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 Series standings driving for International Draco Racing, but the twenty-two year old from Curitiba in Brazil reckons that with more luck on his side, he has showed he is capable of top five pace this season.
“My season so far has been very positive, especially when it comes to the matter of working with the team,” said Fantin to The Checkered Flag. “We also showed strong pace on every event so far, but we have been unlucky most of the times to show the actual end results. But we are confident that our pace is there, there isn’t a doubt about that.”
The early races did not go to plan for the Brazilian, with an eighth place in race two at Monza the best result of the races in Italy, Motorland Aragon in Spain and Monaco.
“I think we always showed a top 5 pace, but sometimes things don’t work out the way we want in the end,” said Fantin. “Our race pace wasn’t great until Motorland, but we made some geometry changes that helped with that from Monaco on.
“I qualified P2 in Motorland and ended up finishing out of the points on Sunday. That was very very frustrating, and we changed some things on the car that helped on the race pace from Monaco on. At Monaco [during the] race we had the 2nd fastest lap, only two tenths slower than [Norman] Nato, who won the race.
“Our qualifying pace on new tyres was always much more competitive than our race pace, and even though we improved from Monaco on, we are still working on that for the last 3 rounds.”
Any hopes of taking advantage of an improved qualifying effort disappeared in Belgium. After qualifying in the top six for both races at Spa-Francorchamps, both of Fantin’s races were over before they really began with two first lap crashes, neither of which were his fault.
“[It was a] nightmare,” revealed Fantin! “We crashed on both races, first lap, same corner while at 4th place. And neither of those was my fault according to the stewards. Those were super important points that we lost. But we have to take the positive sides of it, which was our speed on qualifying and very good race starts.”
Russia was much better, with the Brazilian breaking onto the podium in race one, finishing third behind Sergey Sirotkin and Zoel Amberg. Although happy with his result, Fantin admitted to wanting more – that first Formula Renault 3.5 Series win.
“It was time for it,” insisted Fantin about his Moscow Raceway podium. “We were always up there, but things were never working out the way we expected. So in Russia we qualified well, had a good start and we knew our car was improved from the race, so I just looked forward and expected to finish on the podium. But now I need to look for wins, podiums aren’t enough anymore.”
The final two races before the mid-season break at the Nurburgring in Germany saw Fantin secure a seventh place finish in Saturday’s race, and was heading for a top six finish on Sunday before a mechanical issue sidelined him from the race. He believed the team did the best job they could, so it was disappointing to lose the points in the Sunday race to something out of everyone’s control.
“It wasn’t a great weekend, but we did what we could,” said Fantin. “On Sunday we were running P6 and I had a gearbox issue less than 5 minutes to go, and I lost some important points again. Nurburgring is a very difficult track to overtake too, so you must qualify well and have a strong first lap. I was happy with our wet pace and our pace during the races, which was awful in the first two rounds of the season.”
Looking ahead to the final three rounds of the season at the Hungaroring, Paul Ricard and Jerez, the Brazilian has aims to be on the podium in all three events, providing the luck that has deserted him on occasions in 2014 comes back to him. He has a good rapport with his International Draco Racing team and wants to win with them over the remaining three events and six races.
“I want to be on the podium on all 3 rounds, at least,” revealed Fantin. “There’s no doubt we have a great set up and we have the speed. With a little bit of extra luck and things coming in together, I’m sure that will be no problem for us. I think we will do well on these last 3 rounds.
”The championship’s standings don’t really show what we are capable of. We never showed a weak pace, we were 90% of the time up there, but luck hasn’t been by our side. We lost a lot of points due to crashes, mistakes and mechanical problems. But that just motivates me to go for the win on these last 3 rounds, because I have no doubt of my team’s capability to give me a good car and my capability to drive that good car as fast as possible. We will do well!
“The team is absolutely great. I have no complaints so far. I really really enjoy working with those guys. They make me love what I do more and more. They make you much more motivated to do well, because I see that they want to win too, and that motivates me. The atmosphere at Draco is amazing, in my opinion.”
Fantin believes that he Formula Renault 3.5 Series has a strong driver line-up in 2014, a line-up the Brazilian feels is stronger than the GP2 Series. He says that beating the drivers racing in FR3.5 means that his reputation would be enhanced, especially as Fantin believes some of the drivers racing in the series this season are destined to be eventual Formula 1 drivers.
“Every year WSR 3.5 shows a super strong line-up; in my opinion, stronger than GP2,” said Fantin. “This year is no different. Rookie drivers like [Oliver] Rowland show good pace, and more experienced drivers like [Carlos] Sainz also stand out. My goal is to beat them in the track, as I’m sure they have the ability and opportunity to be in F1 too, and that will be good for me.”