F3

ATS: Series interview with Johnny Cecotto

An important step Cecotto driving the Dallara-Mercedes Despite having finished 'only' third, in the 2008 ATS Formula 3 Cup season, Johnny Cecotto attracted more attention than most of the other drivers on the grid. The Venezuelan hadn't ...

An important step

Cecotto driving the Dallara-Mercedes

Despite having finished 'only' third, in the 2008 ATS Formula 3 Cup season, Johnny Cecotto attracted more attention than most of the other drivers on the grid. The Venezuelan hadn't contested the first two rounds of the season but afterwards, he quickly worked his way up to the top positions on the leader board. Thanks to his good performances, the now 19-year old advanced to the Formula 3 Euro Series.

In the forthcoming season you will race for Team HBR Motorsport. Has the ATS Formula 3 Cup been helpful on your way up?

Absolutely. I learned a lot in my ATS Formula 3 Cup year. Contesting this season also was vital for finding and keeping sponsors. And at the end of the day, I attracted the interest of a lot of teams - some of them involved in the Euro Series - with my achievements.

Some months have gone by since the 2008 season finale, now. How do you assess your 2008 season, with hindsight?

To be honest, I still am annoyed about the final race weekend and having finished only third in the championship. Particularly as I was tied for points with my team-mate, Sebastian Saavedra. I still think about it nearly every single day. After all, I was a championship contender at season halftime. But then, some of the races didn't run that well for me. Whatever? I had the chance to finally continue competing in Formula 3. After all, I had been racing in other series for more than a year.

What is your nicest memory of the 2008 ATS Formula 3 Cup season?

There isn't a special memory or a certain occasion - the entire season was positive. The great feeling to be truly competitive and back on the highest step of the podium. During the course of the season I set four fastest and - if I'm not mistaken - ten second-fastest race laps. It really was a very, very nice year.

Your father was Motorbike World Champion, Formula 1 and DTM driver, thus making the name Cecotto a household name not only in the motor-racing world. Did bearing such a popular name rather represent a disadvantage or an advantage, for you?

With such a name, making the first steps proves to be particularly difficult. Even if you drive at the very end of the field and finish last, you are attracting a lot of attention. other backmarkers just aren't noticed. Their names won't become popular until they succeed in establishing as front-runners. Now, however, being a regular front-runner myself, it's nice to have such a great name.

Does your father support your motor-racing ambitions?

At the moment, he's working mainly in the background. He helps me finding sponsors, organises a lot for me... You could say that he's my manager. Nonetheless, he hasn't accompanied me to the race weekends, this year. The only event he attended was the season finale at Oschersleben. From my point of view, this was the perfect point in time. Up to then, being alone at the venues was better for me. But I think, being accompanied by him in the future won't be a problem for me, any more.

What is your goal for the coming season?

It's always difficult to make an assessment before the season has begun. But I want to make it to a top-ten position in the championship.

What is your long-term goal? Formula 1?

Making it to Formula 1 definitely is my big goal. I'm dying to become a Grand Prix driver. To be honest, I haven't got another goal. For me, making money as motor racer isn't enough. I want to make it to the very top. And I will always remember the ATS Formula 3 Cup as a vital step on my way to realising this goal.

-credit: formel3.de

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Series F3
Drivers Johnny Cecotto , Sebastian Saavedra