GIANMARCO RAIMONDO: F3 ITALIA TEST REPORT
Canadian open wheel racer wraps up rookie season with a series of critical tests to set plans for 2011
St. Catharines, Ontario - Gianmarco Raimondo, Canadian formula car racer, completed several days of testing at four different tracks to end the 2010 season and prepare for the 2011 campaign. Living in Italy for the past ten months has put Raimondo right in the heart of the European motor racing community, immersing him in the culture and history of the sport. First up it was the circuit at Imola following the final round of the 2010 F3 Italia season and then off to the track at Varano on November 15th. During a one-month break in the testing schedule, Raimondo headed to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals at the LaConca Circuit to visit friends and support his fellow Canadian racers. After the break, Raimondo then wrapped up the year-end testing program with a trip to Spain to run at Valencia and Barcelona. The Lucidi Motorsports driver enjoyed visiting some tracks that were familiar to the 20-year-old and also learning some new circuits that will be part of his future plans.
The first test set at Imola, was the site of the third round of the F3 Italia Championship where GMO scored three championship points. Raimondo ran well in the test and was able to set the quickest time in the final of the four sessions the team ran over the one day test. Raimondo was there with one other Team Lucidi driver all looking to prepare for the 2011 season. It was a very eventful day with rain in the morning giving way to a track that was just dry enough to make a full qualifying lap in the end. At the end of the final session Raimondo was able to set his fastest lap as he challenged the changing conditions.
"It was a very scary lap mainly because there were still wet patches off-line," smiled Raimondo. "But there was just enough traction on-line so it was almost a guessing game with finding the grip. I could tell I couldn't push anymore. I was quite fun."
Just four days after the Imola test the team headed north to the track at Varano, just outside the city of Parma, Italy. The F3 Italia series completed rounds nine and ten at the track at Varano in late August. Raimondo struggled for pace that weekend and was looking forward to the test session to gain a handle on the challenging track. The track was difficult as usual, however GMO was able to find a better balance with the car in this test then the team managed in the race. Raimondo was able to beat the times of his teammates who had both tested at Varano and ran well in the August race.
"I could already see that my driving was a lot better since the last time I drove here," continued GMO. "It was always improving, along with my fitness."
With some time to absorb the recent testing, the Lucidi Motorsports team headed to Spain looking build a new collection of data. First up was the circuit at Valencia, which brought back a lot of memories for Raimondo from the Formula BMW scholarship course in 2007. By the end of the first day GMO had already found the limits of the track and needed to work on finding the best set-up for the car. For the second day, it rained until the afternoon and it took several sessions to dry the track creating challenging and changing conditions. By the end of the second day the cars were perfectly set up allowing Raimondo to run in the top three out of all the cars that were there including Formula Masters, F3 Euro, F3 British and F3 Open teams. Lucidi Motorsports were the only F3 Italia team at the test and there were 30 cars in total.
"The track was almost identical, so it was very easy to get a feel for the track surface and flow," commented Raimondo. "We produced some good experimentation with different sweeps, but I believe the car could have improved more."
From Valencia the team headed northeast to the International Circuit at Barcelona. A new track for Raimondo, he used some modern day technology to get up to speed quickly. By studying various videos on the Internet and utilizing racing games, GMO was able to learn this track very quickly. The initial set-up was actually very close to the one used in the end. The gears on the other hand were a bit more difficult to find because of the lack of experience on this track and because of the grip and speed differences from new tires to old. Having three cars to experiment with for the first day made it easier to attain a balance for the gear ratios. Raimondo was able to find some tricks to the track as well that shaved an extra tenth off of his times. In the end, the last session was his best drive of the year as GMO was consistent and managed to stay within 0.1 seconds of his theoretical time.
"I've established Barcelona as one of my new favorite tracks because of the elevation changes as well as the flow of the track suits my style," smiled Raimondo upon his return home to Ontario for the Holidays. "The facility is amazing and one of the best kept circuits I have ever raced visited."
Plans for the 2011 season are currently underway as Raimondo looks to use this recent momentum to build his program for next season.