A surprise name joined the entry list for Round 9 of FIA F3 at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza: 19-year-old Alessandro Famularo returned to single-seaters having last raced in May 2021. We spoke to the Venezuelan driver in the Monza paddock after his début weekend in F3.
By Michael McClure
For the Monza round, Famularo – a resident of Miami, Florida – joined Charouz Racing System in the #15 car. The team has had a myriad of drivers in its car this season, albeit only twice consecutively.
Ayrton Simmons signed a deal for 2022 and piloted the car at the beginning of the year in Bahrain, but he abruptly withdrew from in-season testing at Barcelona in April and never returned to the car.
F3 veteran David Schumacher replaced Simmons for the test and the second round of the season, but a clash with the Lausitzring round of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) meant he also couldn’t continue. His fellow German Lirim Zendeli filled in at Barcelona before Charouz returnee Zdeněk Chovanec and Euroformula Open front-runner Christian Mansell took over the car for two rounds each.
Schumacher returned again at Zandvoort, but the Spa DTM round conflicted with F3’s Monza finale. So did Euroformula Open’s Red Bull Ring round, which took place alongside the eighth round of the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine (FRECA). Drivers from those two series, the most common stepping stones to F3, were thus unable to make a cameo, so Charouz had to look elsewhere.
Tougher cars to drive
Famularo contested three rounds of the 2021 FRECA season with G4 Racing and three rounds the previous year with Van Amersfoort Racing. That experience, as well as two years in Italian F4 and a partial campaign in ADAC F4, might ordinarily be enough, but Famularo had another challenge: reacclimatising to racing itself.
“It’s crazy because the other cars doesn’t have that much downforce and power, but especially the main thing, I was like 1.3 years, one year and a half without driving, so that makes it difficult,” Famularo told F1 Feeder Series on Sunday, after the Feature Race. “Arriving at the last race, these guys are at the maximum level already, and I am so cold.”
Competing against drivers who have raced the Dallara F319 for the whole season, and some for several before that, Famularo knew he’d struggle to score big results, especially having qualified 30th.
“Expectations were realistic. I knew it was going to be difficult, but we made a big step from yesterday, Saturday, to today, Sunday,” Famularo explained. “I was starting last every race, [but] I could fight with the other guys already. But then I had an issue an electrical issue with the engine.”
Famularo had to pit because of the issue, but he was still classified as finishing the race 23rd due to a race suspension and premature ending that meant results were taken from Lap 15. He’d also finished 23rd on Saturday, 8.5 seconds behind teammate László Tóth.
Praise from Pizzi
The driver rotation has put Charouz’s two permanent drivers, Tóth and Francesco Pizzi, in a ‘strange’ position, hamstringing their ability to get consistent data. Pizzi spoke to F1 Feeder Series on Friday and said he’d been impressed with Famularo considering the circumstances of his return.
“It’s of course really hard for him to get back in the car after such a long time, so I think he’s done a good job to just be competitive for how long he hasn’t been driving. Of course, we had many teammates this season. He’s I think the seventh, so at the end many, but I got used to it at a certain point.”
As for Famularo, he too hopes for a bit more stability in his career, with an eye toward continuing in F3. To that end, he is driving for Charouz in the post-season F3 tests at Jerez this week.
“My objective is always single-seaters. It’s what I like, what I started with. It’s my passion, so probably, I will do F3 next year.”
Header photo credit: Charouz Racing
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