Pietro Fittipaldi demolished the Formula 3 lap record at Sonoma Raceway, driving one of Simraceway’s turbocharged Lolas. Paul Charsley reports.
Using one of Simraceway's fleet of cars based on a Lola B06/30 but with a turbocharged 300hp two-liter four-cylinder engine, the Brazilian eclipsed the previous record by over one second.
Pietro Fittipaldi is the grandson of two-time F1 champion, CART Indy car champ two-time Indy 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi. He was invited to try out one of Simraceway Performance Driving Center’s Lolas to set a benchmark time for Simraceway which uses the F3 cars for its driver development and racing series programs.
The youngster showed stunning pace right out of the box and whittled his times down to of 1m33.02s in the final session.
Fittipaldi also used the day to ready himself before heading to Europe to tackle the 2016 Formula V8 3.5 series (formerly known as Formula Renault 3.5).
He said: "I had a great day of testing at Sonoma with the Lola F3. I was surprised that for a racing school car it was very powerful and pretty much on par with the FIA F3.
"The track is very technical with a lot of blind entry and exit corners. I will definitely come back."
The Simraceway Formula 3 car's turbocharged two-liter unit is mated to a five-speed sequential gearbox, it uses adjustable front and rear wings, and its total weight of less than half-a-ton give it a power-to-weight ratio of 645 bhp-per-ton.
Nico Rondet, chief instructor for Simraceway’s F3 Race Series and training program, commented: “I was impressed with both Pietro's maturity and speed which he found very quickly. It was obvious that he had done his homework before getting here, which is a testimony of his dedication to his craft.
"After the initial shock of ’wow, this is a school car?!’ his speed was impressive and after we went to a new set of Pirelli tires, his pace was already record-setting. I felt like we could get more out of him and the car, so we made a little setup change and he responded to that really well. The result was a new track record.
"These are the days we work for! It is rewarding to see it work out. I'm sure that big things are in Pietro's future, and I hope that it will be soon.”