St. Catharines, Ontario -- Gianmarco Raimondo, 2008 Formula BMW Americas Rookie Champion, headed straight to Italy following double podiums in the final round of the 2009 Formula BMW Americas Championship at Mosport. The 18-year-old rising star in...
St. Catharines, Ontario -- Gianmarco Raimondo, 2008 Formula BMW Americas Rookie Champion, headed straight to Italy following double podiums in the final round of the 2009 Formula BMW Americas Championship at Mosport. The 18-year-old rising star in open wheel racing tested with Team Corbetta Competizioni of Italy at the Vallelunga Circuit. Setting a blistering pace and coming to grips with the car quickly, Raimondo was impressive in his maiden F3 run. For the young Canadian talent this would be the first racing experience at the wheel of a Dallara F309, after concluding with a victory in his final weekend of FBMW Americas competition.
"I was surprised it didn't take me long to get use to the car. It has roughly the same power to grip ratio as the Formula BMW, so I could transfer a lot of my driving habits to the car, which was a big bonus," comments Raimondo. "However, the tracks over in Italy also help with your driving and racing because they are very smooth and have plenty of grip."
On the heels of the successful test weekend, Raimondo along with Team Corbetta Competizioni principals decided to extend his European program. Raimondo stayed abroad as a guest of the team at Imola, where he could assist to the sixth round of the F3 Italian Series and get acquainted with the technicians on the team. In a recent Team Corbetta Competizioni release Angelo Corbetta, Team Principal had this to say about Raimondo's test:
"Raimondo showed since the first kilometers a deep technical maturity and an highly professional approach to working. Obviously he needs to adapt to a completely new single seater but in his first testing day he scored very interesting lap times; we do not have particular objectives for Vallelunga: it will be important for him to run as many kilometers as possible and to start acquiring that experience that in the future we hope will allow him to aim high in Italy too."
Team Corbetta Competizioni decided to take Raimondo to debut at Vallelunga in the second last round of the Italian Formula 3 championship. In the first practice session on day one, Gmo would clock in at 13th and then headed into the second practice and crossed the stripe in the 16th spot. Following a debrief with the team and working with a new engineer, the team looked to make some changes to gain speed in critical sections of the track.
Raimondo would hit the track for qualifying and secure the 16th spot for race one. In race one Gmo would move forward quickly toward the top ten and finish 11th after a solid battle in the closing stages of the race. In race two Gmo started from inside the sixth row in the 11th position. Battling a less than perfect car, Raimondo would continue to struggle with understeer which hampered his forward progress at the sharp end of the field. At the flag he would cross in tenth spot, a solid debut weekend making all the scheduled laps and running consistent laps.
"I fell in love with the Formula 3 car. It's such a better car than I expected. When braking at 3G's and accelerating from 0-100 km/h in under three seconds, its such an amazing feeling," smiles Raimondo on his return to Canada. "To race them was even better, especially in the rain. For my first F3 experience, it was definitely a good one because I managed to learn and race the car in almost every type of weather condition."
Before heading home, Raimondo had one more, small piece of business - a trip to England for the Grand Prix Shootout. There are a number of "young driver" programs in motorsport, however, none of them are as international or accessible as the Grand Prix Shootout. Grand Prix Shootout is a genuinely global competition and is not at all exclusive. The test took place at the Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground in Leicestershire, in the UK. Rob Wilson, lead instructor, uses standard hatchbacks and works with the driver to set the fastest time possible around the circuit, the same format he used to select the drivers for Honda F1's young driver program. With as many as 80 drivers competing worldwide, only eight will be called back to compete in Wales, UK for the final shootout in late November.
"The Grand Prix Shootout in England was also a good learning experience because of the training we received from Rob Wilson. It was very different driving on the right side of the car rather from the left, and shifting with your left hand as oppose to your right," recalls Raimondo. "Adapting to the Fiat 500 Abarth was a challenge as well because I just came from racing F3, however after 2-3 laps I was comfortable with the car."
Gianmarco Raimondo completed two seasons as a Formula BMW Americas Junior Driver, winning the coveted Junior Scholarship in 2007 and taking the 2008 Formula BMW Americas Rookie Championship. Gmo was born and raised in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada and is building a strong on track racing resume along with off track appearances and special event programs.