After scoring just two points in the opening eight races of 2017, Antonio Fuoco finally had a good weekend as he secured two top-five finishes at the Red Bull Ring, including his maiden FIA Formula 2 Championship podium.
The Prema Racing driver had seen team-mate and fellow Ferrari Driver Academy star Charles Leclerc take wins and podiums in three of the first four rounds of the season while his best result was ninth in the first race in Bahrain, but it all came good for the Italian in Austria.
Fuoco joined his team-mate on the front row of the grid after Sergio Sette Câmara was disqualified from qualifying, and although he could not keep the on-fire Nicholas Latifi behind him, he was able to take third on Saturday for his first trip to the podium, holding off Oliver Rowland until the chequered flag.
“We did a good start and managed well the tyres until mid race,” said Fuoco. “On the last part of the first stint we had some degradation issues so we decided to pit one lap earlier than Charles and when we went out with the Supersofts I passed Rowland.
“Then I saw Nicholas coming very fast in the mirrors and as it was quite hard in the end, I decided to let him go and defend from Oliver. It was great to finally get a podium finish, the first for me in the series.
“We didn’t have the best of luck up to this moment, but we are back where we belong and now we have to keep pushing.”
Fuoco started sixth in Sunday’s Sprint race, and attempted to pass Rowland on the first lap after the early safety car period, only to be pushed onto the grass by the Briton and then being hit from behind by Leclerc, who spun out as a result.
The Italian however was able to bring the car home in a comfortable fifth, despite losing fourth in the closing stages to Luca Ghiotto, and he now heads to Silverstone with some momentum.
“I think this has been a normal race with not too much degradation,” said Fuoco. “I did a good start and after a few laps I tried to attack Rowland.
“I am very sorry for what happened to Charles behind me: I was pushed in the grass and the only thing I could do was to get back on the track.
“Then the pace was good with a really competitive car. After a little degradation issue, in the final stages we seemed to be back to our pace. These are really valuable points and we hope to get more of them at Silverstone.”