Fittipaldi column: Close to a perfect weekend in Jerez

In his latest column for Motorsport.com, Pietro Fittipaldi looks back at a successful Formula V8 3.5 round at Jerez, where he slashed a 22-point deficit in the title race to just one point.

Fittipaldi column: Close to a perfect weekend in Jerez
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We knew we had to have a really good weekend, because we only had pole positions in the previous two rounds at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza, and that is what we did.

Finishing second and first may not quite be the perfect weekend, but it is almost there.

Out of the 50 maximum points you can get, we took 43, so I am happy with that. We gained a lot of ground in the championship.

The big thing we had to work on was the start, and we worked extremely hard in FP1 to get the starts right. I felt a lot more comfortable with the clutch, we made some adjustments to the clutch map.

We tested a couple of different things and we were able to get there right. At the end it was a good weekend.

Visiting Game of Thrones set

My start to the weekend was really cool, as we did a promotion on Wednesday morning in Sevilla and then in the afternoon in Jerez.

We went to the Alcazares of Sevilla, a beautiful place, where they shot some of the Game of Thrones scenes. When I went there there were some people filming; I don't know if it was Game of Thrones but it was something similar.

That was a really beautiful place, which was really cool, and then we went to Jerez, which was great as well. A lot of people in that area like racing so we went to the race weekend and there were a lot of fans.

Fighting for the win

First qualifying was okay, we qualified third, but I think we had the pace to be on pole - we just did not manage the traffic that well.

Then the start in the first race I was trying to get by Egor Orudzhev. He had a really bad start and I went on the inside, but he squeezed me to the grass.

I lost momentum and I had to back off, but then he touched wheels with Yu Kanamaru and then had a problem afterwards and retired.

After that I caught Roy Nissany, and I was putting a lot of pressure on him, we had more pace, I was trying to get him to make a mistake.

He ran wide at the final turn of the safety car restart, which was my best option to pass, but the rules say you can't overtake until the finish line.

I tried to get sort of side-by-side with him, but I couldn't overtake him because if I did I would have had to let him by again. Jerez is a very difficult place to pass and at the end we had to settle for second.

Crucial pass on Orudzhev

In Q2, traffic management was a lot better, we were able to get a really good lap. I only had one push lap, and we were really quick, we got pole by almost half a second.

Then it was a matter of getting a good start, as I knew we had the pace to win the race. The start was good, but Egor had a fantastic start so he was able to overtake me.

During the formation lap at Turn 2, I saw there was some dirt from the previous race - someone spilled oil and they put this dirt on top. I thought I had to avoid the apex because of this.

Behind Egor at Turn 2, I sort of faked it. I was going to pass Egor and he went all the way to the inside, he went over the dirt and he ran a little bit wide and I was able to cut underneath him on the exit.

The next two corners, two long left-handers, with heavy fuel, it was quite difficult to do flat-out but I was on the outside. I said in my head 'When in doubt, flat out' - so I held it flat and I was able to just hold it. Thankfully he gave me room.

I was really happy with the pass. I actually saw the video the other day and it was pretty cool, but when you are in the car, I just sort of went for it.

Then the team did a great job in the pitstop and we were able to control the race from there.

Building on this momentum

This weekend was really important for the championship. In the past two weekends we weren't able to finish on the podium so obviously there was a bit of pressure going in.

It was just a matter of getting back into the rhythm and getting the results. This weekend was really good, so I'm sure we will build from this momentum in Motorland Aragon.

Overtaking is pretty difficult at Aragon as well, but it is better than Jerez because it has that long straight. The tyres won't degrade as much either because it has a smoother surface.

I am sure that this good form will carry on. I like Aragon a lot, I ran well there in the pre-season test. We have to go there and try to win both races to get a championship lead and extend it.

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Jerez F3.5: Fittipaldi passes Orudzhev to win Race 2
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