Devlin DeFrancesco will head into his second season in the FIA Formula 3 Championship in 2020, and the young Canadian has every intention to fight for race wins this year.
DeFrancesco has opted to remain with Trident for a second season, and despite ending last season without a point, he believes the Italian team will be able to give him a car to contend inside the top three.
“The ambitions are clear, we want to finish in the top 3 overall,” said DeFrancesco to The Checkered Flag. “We want to be as competitive as possible and be fighting at the front to be a constant contender for race wins.
“Trident are a strong team who can definitely provide me with a competitive car. The last couple years have been hard for me professionally and personally. Trident took me at my lowest point and have helped me grow.
“Our team manager Giacomo Ricci does a great job and as an ex-racing driver himself, he fully understands us. The whole team mechanics and engineers have a ton of experience and I can’t say enough great things about my engineer Andrea Mancini he has tons of success in his career and is always helping me to improve.”
“2019 Was a Year of Recovery and Building”
Looking back at 2019, DeFrancesco was able to show flashes of strong pace but the twenty-year-old seemed to be followed around by bad luck, with his performances at Spa-Francorchamps and the Autodromo Nazionale Monza in particular going to waste.
“No doubt 2019 was a year of recovery and building,” said the Canadian. “If you look at a lot of rounds, we had some bad luck but that’s racing.
“No question I was feeling very strong towards the end of the year but looking back we had more than our fair share of bad luck, at Spa qualifying in the top six and getting taken out on lap one. Then in Monza the red flag coming out and my lap getting taken away, which cost us qualifying in the top three, but as I said that’s racing.”
Just prior to the coronavirus outbreak, pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit took place for the Formula 3 drivers, and DeFrancesco was the fastest of the three Trident drivers, his best time across the three days seeing him end thirteenth fastest and fastest overall on the opening day of the test.
DeFrancesco is teaming up with 2018 ADAC Formula 4 champion Lirim Zendeli and 2019 Formula Regional European Championship race winner Olli Caldwell for 2020, and he feels both drivers have good speed and create a good atmosphere within the Trident garage.
“Lirim and Olli are good guys and have good speed and we have a good atmosphere in the team,” said DeFrancesco. “Overall the preseason test in Bahrain I’d say was positive ending day one P1 is always a nice feeling.
“It was very good to see that our car was competitive straight out of the box. We know what we need to look for in the car to improve we also know what worked and what didn’t on day two and day three. So I’m confident and happy and ready to go as soon as the season starts!”
“I wish I Could be Racing Every Day”
Obviously, with the coronavirus putting all racing activities on hold, DeFrancesco has been part of the sim racing revolution, but for the Canadian, nothing compares to the real thing.
“Other than spending time with my family I wish I could be racing every day,” said DeFrancesco. “I love being with the team, and there’s no other sport that can be as rewarding but demands such a high level of competition and focus.
“The ESports racing is awesome. I started getting into it about eighteen months ago for fun but now taking it pretty seriously. I’m racing in Torque ESports “The Race All-Star Series” which is full of pros from Formula 1, Formula E, Indy plus a lot of the guys from the Formula 3 and Formula 2 grid.”
DeFrancesco has twice been a part of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, racing for JDC-Miller Motorsports, and he foresees future races in sportscars, but for the time being, he is completely focused on his single-seater career.
He does, however, want to race at Daytona again, although he wants to be able to compete in the Indianapolis 500 sometime in his career around the famed oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“At the moment single seaters is my absolute focus, but several teams have approached me after the success with JDC in 2018-2019,” DeFrancesco said. “So, I think you’ll see me in a sports car again in 2021, but not as my primary focus.
“My favourite [tracks] are definitely Spa, Barcelona, Monza and Silverstone. [Also], racing at Daytona in the Rolex 24, but if there’s one track and race I’d love to do that’s the Indy 500.”
“For My Fifth Christmas There were Two Karts Under the Tree for Me and My Brother”
DeFrancesco’s first memories of racing was watching multiple different categories with his father when he was young, and he started karting when he was five years of age.
“I remember watching Formula 1, INDYCAR then NASCAR with my dad on Sunday when I was just three or four,” said the Canadian when asked what got him into racing. “For my fifth Christmas there were two karts under the tree for me and my brother.
“I would drive hundreds of laps playing follow the leader when I was only five at our local indoor karting track at the weekends.
“My sixth summer my dad had signed me up for karting, and then we moved to Florida when I was seven, and I started racing against Logan Sargeant and Patricio O’Ward. We had great battles and so much fun.
“Next year, when I was 8, I won the easy kart championship, which brought me to Italy to race in the world championship. My dad wasn’t able to come to that race as he was travelling for work and I remember calling him telling him how different and amazing it was and that I wanted to start racing in Europe.”
DeFrancesco’s career has seen him race against many of the current crop of young drivers at different times. The likes of Max Fewtrell, Mick Schumacher, Enaam Ahmed and Callum Ilott have crossed paths with DeFrancesco during his rise up to Formula 3.
“From 10-14 I spent the majority of my time in Italy racing WSK, with the majority of today’s Formula 3 and Formula 2 paddock,” he said. “In 2014 I convinced my parents to send me to Haileybury in the UK so I could continue focusing on racing in Europe alongside school.
“In 2016 I moved up to Formula 4 with Carlin, and after finishing the season fifth, the following year we moved up to EuroFormula Open where I finished third overall and first in the Spanish Championship which ran alongside the main championship.
“We had a very tough season the year after in 2018 where I moved after a couple races to GP3 with MP Motorsport to learn the tracks, car and tyre, which brought me to Trident the next year.”
Racing is “100% Commitment or Nothing”
DeFrancesco admits it is has been very tough on everyone around him trying to build a career in motorsport, but he knows everything needed to be committed one hundred per cent to it if he wanted to make it work.
“In terms of how hard it was, I moved across the ocean at a very young age which was a little tough on me but very tough on my parents and siblings,” he admitted. “I was lucky to have my dad in Europe as he was there for work at times. My grandfather also travelled with me to as much as possible.
“The thing about racing is you can’t be halfway in – it’s a 100% commitment or nothing. The amount of training and focus doesn’t allow drivers to enjoy a lot of the same things that other kids are doing at our age.”
Despite the difficulties, DeFrancesco has a lot of great memories of his career to date, with race victories through his karting career and in single seaters held in high regard by him.
“Looking back there’s a few great memories,” said the twenty-year-old. “In karting, winning the Pan American championship in the rain after starting P33, and finishing the CIK European karting championship third overall with some great battles.
“My first win in cars with Carlin in F4 in Thruxton [with] the level [being so] high that year and winning final race in EuroFormula Open in Barcelona.
“But I’d like to think my best memories are definitely yet to come.”