By: Ashley McCubbin
There are several drivers that have made the transition from European open-wheel to the American ranks and been successful in the process. Francesco Pizzi will hope to become the latest, set for the USF Pro 2000 Championship presented by Cooper Tires after competing in the FIA F3 program. TJ Speed’s most recent recruit shared his thoughts with NEWS FROM THE PITS.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming season for 2023?
I mean, it’s a new challenge for me. The American racing is different for me than what I have done. The starts are different – they don’t do standing starts here as they’re rolling starts. There’s a few different differences – tires, cars, tracks – they are very different, a lot less space for mistakes as the tracks are a lot tighter than Europe with what I’ve experienced so far. I’m up for the challenge. I think we can head into the new season with good expectations to start with.
What are your goals for this upcoming season?
My goal, the end game, is to win the championship of course. But there are many steps to it. We’re not just looking at the end factor but getting there as the first step is learning the tracks. Right now, I just want to work with the team and hopefully the results will come themselves. In the two tests we’ve worked together and when we get there, hopefully we have the pace to stand as one of the best drivers at the track.
Obviously as you mentioned, you’ve gotten to test – including recently at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Circuit. What were your initial impressions of getting behind the wheel of the USF Pro 2000 car for that test?
I struggled a little bit, I have to be honest. The first test, I expected it to go a little better than I was. I was ninth so it was not great. Then I went onto do a few other tests – Barber (Motorsports Park) and Sebring (International) and I found myself a lot better with the car. I found myself familiarized with the car and different tracks more. I think I have a good feeling in the car there, a lot more than I used to before. We have another test coming in a few weeks and like now I’m ready. We will see how much work we need to continue to do.
You were competing as part of the Formula Regional European Championship before the recent move to the US. What’s the biggest thing that you learned during that experience that you feel will carry over?
Last year was a tough season for me. F4, we were up front fighting for the championship. I probably wasn’t ready for F3 but fighting in the middle of the pack, I learned a lot to make myself a little better in fights. I learned a lot about time management, long run pace, and of course I think Formula 3 is one of the toughest championships in junior formulas because guys all have top cars and racing 27 cars so it’s very tight and every little detail makes a difference and you have no track time so you have to learn everything together.
I come with experience there but I don’t think it will be any easier in the U.S. I think it will be even tougher for me because I need to learn the tracks and guys will race me differently. The car itself is similar to regional formula, but it’s not the same because all the tires on the ground give different feedback to the steering wheel.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully an IndyCar driver.
Who would you consider your racing hero?
Jim Clark. I think he’s won in Formula 1. He’s the Indianapolis 500 in the past, as well. I looked up to him. But more recently, my idol since growing up was Kimi Raikkonen because every race I watched in my life, he won. So he was kind of my reference point.
What’s been your most memorable moment of your career to date?
There’s been loads of them. I’ve won a championship of course and won four races there – but the biggest moment for me, of course it was a big relief when I won my first race in Formula 4 because I was about to stop racing shortly before. Then when I started winning, we got back going. But then I would say the biggest moment itself when I won Monza. We had about 20 changes for the lead in that race and it is the most beautiful race in Formula 4. For me, it was emotional at the finish. It was a great weekend. Most recently, I got third place in Spa.
Categories: ashley asks...., Interview, Road to Indy
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