F3’s Italian drivers on racing at home: ‘It’s really special’

After the FIA Formula 3 Championship visited the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola for its second round this year, it staged the season finale at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza on the outskirts of Milan, Italy. The three Italian drivers on this year’s grid were spoiled with two home races, and they told F1 Feeder Series about their homecomings and the unique circumstances of each.

By Michael McClure

Charouz Racing System rookie Francesco Pizzi, who hails from Rome, failed to score on his last visit to Monza in the 2021 Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine. But the year before, he enjoyed a hugely successful weekend at Monza en route to second in the Italian F4 Championship, taking two wins and a fourth place in addition to his only pole position of the year.

I was feeling really hyped for the weekend

Francesco Pizzi

Of course, in F4 I already had good results on this track, so at the end, I come back on a track that I know quite well compared to the others. I was feeling really hyped for the weekend,” Pizzi told F1 Feeder Series on Friday evening. “I of course end the season in my home race. It’s always a good finish, but in the end, the race here matters more than the qualifying, as we know from past years.”

Surviving the mess

Pizzi hoped to repeat the results he had at Imola, where he took his and Charouz Racing System’s one and only point of 2022. Though he qualified 20th for both races, a 10-place penalty for not slowing under double yellow flags in Qualifying forced him to start from the last row for the Sprint Race. He ultimately recovered to 18th and 16th in the two races, aided by what he described as “all the mess that happens in the races” at the Temple of Speed.

A boy in a mask sits in a black, orange and grey car belonging to Van Amersfoort Racing, whose team trailer is in the background to the right.
Francesco Pizzi won two races at Monza in 2020 while driving for Van Amersfoort Racing’s F4 team | Credit: FRECA

Among those who ran into trouble and helped Pizzi climb through the field was Enzo Trulli. The Carlin rookie fell to the rear of the field in the Sprint Race after an opening-lap puncture at the Ascari chicane, then suffered a similar fate in the Feature Race, albeit with a broken front wing from contact with teammate Brad Benavides at the Della Roggia chicane on the opening lap.

We did a good comeback, but still, coming back is not the best

Enzo Trulli

“This weekend just started good and we had some problems in quali,” Trulli told F1 Feeder Series after the race on Saturday. “I did a good start but then I had a puncture going to Ascari, so then we had to box and change the tyres. We did a good comeback, but still, coming back is not the best.”

Contesting F3 with just one prior year in cars under his belt, Trulli has rarely run in the top half of the field, a factor he attributes to poor luck.

“I didn’t reach the goal that I wanted. I’m still working on it. It’s not been easy. This season has been really difficult, more because everything that I was doing was going wrong. I’ve been really unlucky this year in Qualifying, so it’s difficult to accept it, but we try to look forward.”

Extra attention

For Trulli, coming back to Monza, where he scored a podium in Euroformula Open last season, is as much about his father, Formula 1 race winner Jarno Trulli, as it is about himself. The 2004 Monaco Grand Prix winner was on hand throughout the weekend to oversee his son’s progress and soak in the atmosphere at a venue where he is widely known.

“It’s amazing. It’s a really special track with all the fans, already from Thursday and yesterday a lot of people coming. It’s really an emotional weekend and one of my favourites,” the younger Trulli said about the Monza weekend. “For sure, it’s more for my dad than for me, so all the people are coming more for my dad, but it’s still nice to see.”

A boy (Enzo Trulli) with brown hair, a blue surgical mask and a blue and grey jacket stands against a black background
Enzo Trulli | Credit: Carlin

Also enjoying additional local attention is Jenzer Motorsport’s Federico Malvestiti, who hails from Villasanta, a comune directly east of the Parco di Monza. Because the circuit is nearly in his own backyard, Malvestiti had friends and family in attendance all throughout the weekend.

It’s really special racing in front of all the people that supported me since I was a child

Federico Malvestiti

I would say racing in Monza [is] even more special for me than racing in Imola because I live 500 metres from the entrance of the circuit. It’s really special racing in front of all the people that supported me since I was a child: friends, family, and sponsors,” he told F1 Feeder Series on the Friday evening of the Monza weekend.

An eco-friendly commute

While most teams arrange for their drivers to stay in nearby hotels, Malvestiti commutes from his own home via electric scooter, the same mode of transport that many use to speed from one end of the paddock to another.

Normally you’re used to going in hotels and everything. Being home is a strange feeling

Federico Malvestiti

“It’s like 3 minutes with electric scooter. I just cut through the park. I exit from the park, it’s 400 metres and I’m home,” he said while clutching his scooter and preparing to leave. “When you’re away for races, normally you’re used to going in hotels and everything. Being home is a strange feeling.”

Five men in a garage with two teal, red and black racecars behind. The man in the middle, Federico Malvestiti, wears a Jenzer Motorsport–branded shirt in the same colours and holds his steering wheel as he talks with two older men to his right and two men of similar age to his left
Local driver Federico Malvestiti entertained a large entourage at Monza | Credit: Sebastiaan Rozendaal / Dutch Photo Agency

Despite the unusual circumstances of the race, Malvestiti enjoyed his best weekend of the season. He kept his nose clean amidst the chaos to finish the two races 16th and 18th, the first time this season that he’s ended both in the top 20.

“All the guests, friends, sponsors, and family and the work with the engineers is really a mess, but I’m managing it,” he explained. “Starting from P26 is not easy, but I just try to make as many overtakes as possible and have fun – have a good race and give some show to my friends and family.”

Header Photo Credit: Eric Alonso / Dutch Photo Agency

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