Enzo Fittipaldi didn’t have to cast his mind back very far to find a race that stood out, bouncing back from adversity in this season’s Feature Race in Imola.
The Italian circuit played host to a monumental weekend for the Charouz Racing System driver as he secured his first Formula 2 podium, an even more colossal achievement given his road to recovery from an accident four months earlier. Recalling the events that unfolded, the Brazilian driver remembered the one important lesson he learnt along the way – make every opportunity count.
“It was my first podium in Formula 2 coming from 15th on the grid and it was after my big accident, so it was a really big moment for me. That result in Imola was a very big turning point for me this season. I think not only for me, but it gave the whole team a confidence boost that obviously helps.
“Lining up on the grid, I had the normal emotions as always, but I was starting 15th and I knew it was going to be a hard race in Imola because overtaking is a bit difficult there. I was just really focused on my own race, doing the job and not making any mistakes. Honestly, I didn’t have too much pressure, and everything just came to me.
“Already from the start, I’d made like five overtakes, I went up to 10th and it was just really pretty good. We had amazing pace, and it was just mixed emotions – the normal emotions as always, a lot of adrenaline, a lot of focus. You’re very fast with the decision making, so you must have a lot of awareness.
“We were so fast! We got the right strategy as well; we gained some positions there. Then with my last two moves for the podium, I did them on the same lap. I overtook Logan Sargeant and then I overtook Ralph Boschung before Turn 1. Right after that the Safety Car came out, so if I didn’t make that overtake on Boschung, I wouldn’t have finished second, I would have finished third. It was a very crazy race.
“I made the decision to do the overtakes as soon as possible because I knew the race was crazy. I was already thinking that there’s going to be a Safety Car coming out, so I knew I needed to get these overtakes done because I had the pace advantage. So, I got it done and then a few corners after the Safety Car came out. It was really good, and I think decision making was very important that day.
“It was very special to me. It was a Feature Race podium going from 15th to second, on a track where it was difficult to overtake. I was very happy about it, and it was very important because it gave the whole team a big confidence boost. That was vital for the Championship because after that I’ve been scoring points at almost every race and got five more podiums, so it’s been sensational.
“The race was very emotional for me because it was two months after I had the surgeries that I needed. Honestly, I still was kind of in a recovery phase, but I was already like 100% in Imola. To finish second, it was amazing and to get my first podium in Formula 2 after everything that happened in Jeddah the year before, I think it was a big moment for everyone in the team.
“After that race, I just knew that in a Formula 2 Feature Race with the pit stop and everything else, the position you start doesn’t matter. If you’re starting last or you’re starting first, you can always finish on the podium because it’s so crazy in the races. There’s always so many things happening, so you should never give up!
"If you’re starting 20th, just look ahead and you can still finish on the podium or in the points. That’s what I’ve learnt in F2, that no matter where you are starting, you can always turn things around.
“Also, it’s my first full season in F2 and every race weekend I’m learning something new. It’s been a big learning curve for me, but each race I’m improving as a driver. For sure, every race weekend I do changes me as I’m always learning and improving. I’m better driver now that what I was in Imola because you learn something new every time you go out on track.”