Fittipaldi defends Formula V8 3.5 switch

Pietro Fittipaldi believes a step up to Formula V8 3.5 is a better option than another year in European F3 in terms of future Formula 1 prospects.

The Brazilian, having taken 16th overall in his debut F3 season last year, notes his decision to move to F3.5 has been questioned by some observers.

But he insists it is backed up by the formerly Renault-backed category's track record of producing F1 drivers, with Kevin Magnussen and Carlos Sainz among its recent graduates.

Fittipaldi said: "People like to criticise. But how many drivers from 3.5 went directly [to F1] in the last few years and how many came from F3?

"From F3 there was just the one - Max Verstappen. You just have to tell people to look at the stats.

"I’m not saying that F3 is not competitive, but to have the opportunity with the team [Fortec] that won the championship [in FR3.5 in 2015] gets me closer to F1."

The Brazilian, however, pointed out that he would not be getting ahead of himself in the pursuit of an F1 opportunity - and that his focus was on the 3.5 campaign ahead.

"I am focussed on 2016 but you never know. Let's say I won the championship in 2016 and there won't be a F1 spot available.

"You never know what's going to happen - right now I want to do my best, get together with the team and just perform with them this season.

"Like I said, you never know, if you win the championship or finish second, and there's no F1 spot open, you might end up riding bicycles the year after."

Winning mentality

Fresh from winning the MRF Challenge, the Brazilian reckons that, with Fortec, he has a good package to win races in 2016.

"We saw that we are competitive [in private testing with Carlin] and we had a good opportunity with Fortec, so we decided to take it.

"Since we already worked together last year, we already know each other quite well, we think it's a really good package for 2016."

Asked about his specific goals for the season, the Brazilian elaborated: "I am always going for the title, but it is going to be difficult because there are some experienced drivers this year.

"And the experience here does really matter, but I'll push for the title - however, my main goal honestly is to win races.

"I did the same in the MRF Challenge because with the goal to win races, you end scoring enough points to win the championship.

Fittipaldi named the French duo of last year's runner-up Matthieu Vaxiviere (SMP Racing) and Tom Dillmann (AVF) as the likely favourites for the upcoming campaign.

Physical strength crucial in F3.5

Given the massive differences between the cars in F3 and F3.5, Fittipaldi says he has been training hard to gain the physical strength to go the distance in his new series.

"I have been training a lot over the winter, I do a run in the morning, I lift weights during the night.

"Usually, in other formula cars, the physical aspect doesn't really play a big role in overall performance.

"But I really think with F3.5, because of longer races and because how heavy the car is to drive, I think it will play a role on how you perform, so that is something I am trying to maximise.

"Everyone says it is the neck area which needs to be stronger, but to be honest, I don't really think it is the neck, it is more the shoulder area which needs be strongest."

Additional reporting by Fabio Regula

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About this article
Series Formula V8 3.5 , F3 Europe
Drivers Pietro Fittipaldi
Teams Fortec Motorsports
Article type Breaking news