There are many young drivers that are trying to make their mark in the racing world, but there is one that is well on his way to getting to live out his dream in Formula One and aims to make his country proud.
Italian driver Raffaele Marciello, who is just 18 years old, is part of the next generation of drivers that are making a name for themselves in feeder series on their way to the top. One of the biggest things is that drivers need more than just talent to claw their way up this intensely difficult ladder in an age where money is also needed to make dreams become reality.
The Swiss-born driver set out on his racing journey in 2005, and began in the hard-fought world of karting throughout Europe, starting in Swiss championships in the Super Mini category, before making his way up into the KF2 Trofeo Andrea Margutti in 2010. That same year, he also made his Formula Abarth debut with JD Motosport, ending up third overall in his inaugural single-seater season.
With two wins and four podiums that year, he was signed by the prestigious Ferrari Driver Academy, which is currently headed by Luca Baldisseri, alongside Formula Abarth Champion Brandon Maïsano, and joined the ranks of Jules Bianchi and Sergio Perez, who via the Academy are now in Formula One.
From them on, this young driver joined the ranks of Prema Powerteam for the Italian Formula Three Championship in 2011, which to this day remains the powerhouse within the category, with the outfit having originally been part of the Toyota Driver Programme. Drivers that have gone on to Formula One from the team include Robert Kubica and Lucas di Grassi, and currently have had the likes of current DTM drivers Roberto Merhi and Daniel Juncadella race for them as well.
Raffaele again impressed in the championship, which saw him secure another successive third place finish overall, having picked up another two victories at Misano and Adria along the way, as well as an impressive four podiums in a hard-fought championship. He lost out when it came to the rookie title, as American Michael Lewis took the honours in that respect. However, he outperformed fellow FDA driver Maïsano by seven points in the standings.
Formula 3 is one of the biggest platforms for drivers to make themselves known by a measure of success when it comes to getting the results needed to move forwards, plus also giving the stars of tomorrow a chance to really understand how to set-up race cars to the limit, as well as develop their skills off the track when it comes to dealing with the media and the fans.
So a natural progression to one of the most prestigious Formula 3 championships was inevitable, where the likes of Paul di Resta, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hulkenberg and Sebastian Vettel have all competed on their way on the road to F1, where the manufacturers have taken notice before and keep their eyes in a championship that shows just who is on the rise.
In the build up to joining the F3 Euroseries for 2012, which is the biggest showcase of young talent to this day, Marciello headed over to New Zealand, where he competed in the Toyota Racing Series with M2 Competition, where he took a victory at Hampton Downs, before finishing ninth overall. He then headed back to Europe to again race with Prema Powerteam, as the F3 Euroseries one of the many support series that accompany the DTM on its travels for the majority of the year. This was along with the revival of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship that would replace the former for 2013, seeing an amalgamation of both championships.
Even though he was in the hunt for both titles that year, he was making sure people took notice of his skills behind the wheel especially as he took a total of 13 wins combined, more than anyone else that season. He ended up third in the Euroseries, but missed out on clinching the FIA Championship by just 23.5 points from the man that clinched both titles that season, DTM’s Daniel Juncadella.
Marciello also finished that season with a couple of notable successes in one-off F3 events, where he won both races in the Pau Grand Prix weekend, along with a second place at the Masters of Formula 3 at Circuit Park Zandvoort behind Juncadella, but finished eighth in the Macau Grand Prix.
However, this season saw the Italian driver race for the final time with Prema for the first full season of the FIA Formula 3 Championship, which saw a close battle between both himself and Sweden’s Felix Rosenqvist for the overall title. At one point during the year, Marciello had amassed a huge lead in the standings before drama for the Italian driver happened just when it was not needed, especially with the nasty crash that put him out of the final race of the weekend.
But normal service was resumed at both Vallelunga and Hockenheim when the championship reached its eventual conclusion, with Raffaele securing 13 wins, 12 pole positions and 19 podiums, before announcing via social media that it would be the last time he would race for Prema Powerteam. It was the third year in a row that the Italian team had won the drivers’ title, with this young talent following both Roberto Merhi and Daniel Juncadella towards Formula 3 glory.
Since winning the title with just one race to go, Marciello ventured back over to Macau for the second year in a row, but crashed out in the main event on Lap 7. Macau is one of those tracks that is clearly uncompromising, and demands the utmost of concentration with no margin for error, with the barriers giving no quarter. “Lello” found this out whilst pushing hard with just five laps to go in the main event, but there is always another chance.
The future is not yet written for this man, who looks set to be the next Italian since Jarno Trulli that could race in Formula One, as part of his prize as FIA F3 European Champion this season saw him drive a Ferrari F1 race car a few weeks back. Tests in World Series by Renault 3.5 and GP2 saw this impressive youngster top the time sheets with different teams, showing just how good the Academy is becoming, but the Tifosi could hopefully be cheering one of their very own in the not-too distant future in scarlet red.
Wherever this young man decides to go in 2014 is anyone’s guess, but you can be sure he’ll make his mark wherever he goes….