Pietro Fantin: “We belong on the podium”

Pietro Fantin spoke to The Checkered Flag fresh from finishing on the podium for the first time during the 2015 Formula Renault 3.5 Series season at Silverstone on Sunday, and felt it was time the true potential of him and his team were fulfilled.

After finishing the opening race on Saturday outside the points in eleventh, the International Draco Racing driver rebounded superbly, setting the sixth fastest time in qualifying (but started fourth following penalties to other drivers) and then finished a very competitive third behind championship contenders Oliver Rowland and Matthieu Vaxiviere.

“I think it was quite a good race,” revealed Fantin to The Checkered Flag. “I was a bit lucky with the penalties after qualifying, I actually qualified sixth on track but [Nick] Yelloly and [Gustav] Malja got penalties, and I took advantage of that, and I knew it was my chance to be on the podium.

“I had a good start, and after the race yesterday when I set fastest lap, I knew we had the pace to be in the top three and follow Rowland and Vaxiviere quite well, which we did. I wasn’t going to risk much, I was happy to be on the podium after qualifying sixth, so I was happy with the race.”

Fantin was happy to be able to keep Dean Stoneman behind him in the closing laps despite the British driver making small gains towards him, but did not make any mistake to give the Red Bull-backed DAMS driver an opportunity to take his podium away from him.

“At the end he was catching up quite a bit but I knew at Silverstone its difficult to overtake unless you make a mistake,” insisted Fantin.

“I didn’t have any DRS left, if he had any I don’t know but I knew if he had he’d have something else to use against me, but I knew if I didn’t make a mistake it’ll be very difficult for him to overtake because us four up front were on the same pace.”

After a frustrating season with car issues blighting his year, Fantin feels Silverstone proves where Draco belong, and insists that he won’t be happy unless he is fighting for podium finishes in the remaining races of the season.

“This is where we belong, we belong fighting with Vaxiviere and Rowland, and they’ve been very fast this year,” said Fantin.

“Now this is our baseline, we cannot look less than a podium, but obviously it depends on the car, how the cars going to be, and how I’m going to adapt to the track. We belong on the podium, top three, top four maximum.

“I’m not looking for top five, I’m looking for podiums and to maybe grab a win before the end of the season.

“We’ve been quite unlucky with a lot of mechanical problems, a lot of things this year, and my team they’ve never seen a year with so many problems. It’s very frustrating but it’s my third season in World Series, it’s been good learning.

“I know my potential, the team know the car’s potential but luck wasn’t on our side this season, but maybe next year.”