In a race that started out as damage limitation, Enzo Fittipaldi proved that a tricky starting position is no barrier to success at Monza. With seemingly everything thrown the drivers’ way, the Brazilian turned a frustrating P13 on the grid into fourth, going within touching distance of a podium.
Satisfied with the 12 hard-earned points in Monza, the Rodin Carlin racer was pleased to have something to show for his efforts, utilising a perfectly timed early Safety Car to switch off of the quickly degrading supersoft rubber.
Despite this, he admits he was hungry as he had a top three finish in his sights, situated in a DRS train behind second place Ayumu Iwasa, Théo Pourchaire and Richard Verschoor, who was demoted outside the points after a penalty.
“I think it was a good race for us. We had a good strategy at the beginning because the Safety Car came out again on Lap 7 and then we gained a few spots, and we were up to like P9. Then the Safety Car came out again and we lost some spots, fell back to 13th. From then on, it was just about keeping our nose clean and having a clean race.
“We made a couple of overtakes and kept the good pace, and we came out P4 at the end. Really happy with the result, obviously I wanted more, but from starting P13 to P4, I think we’ve done a good job. Happy with how the race went today.”
Demonstrating his overtaking chops, there was one standout moves that sticks in Fittipaldi’s mind – carving his way past fellow Red Bull junior Dennis Hauger on Lap 18. A mistake for the MP Motorsport driver sent him careening off over the escape road and fed directly in his path out of the first chicane.
Considering the inside line, but ultimately risking it around the outside, he said he was pleased to see the decision pay off after an underwhelming start. Despite not losing ground on four Safety Car restarts, he still sees them as an area of improvement in order to more easily make up ground on those further up the order.
“I had a big run on him, he had gone off and I was coming up behind him,” the Rodin Carlin driver explained. “He stayed on the racing line, and I knew what he was doing and if I would have stayed, I was going to have to lift. So then, I kind of tricked him and went around the outside. It was nice racing.
“There were some overtakes, the one on (Isack) Hadjar as well and a couple at the start, but I didn’t have a great start. I’m really happy with the result today considering that we were P16 after the first corner, so we didn’t have a good start.
“Our Safety Car restarts are always good, but we can never really get a jump on the cars ahead. There was once or twice when I made an overtake, one on (Ralph) Boschung. I was able to get a good run out of the last corner, but I was always struggling a little bit there. Other than that, we were never really attacked into Turn 1, so I think we still did a good job.”
Assessing the round overall, Fittipaldi was pleased to have turned a weekend that started in disappointment around to end on a high note but recognises that there has been too much variation in performances week in, week out.
“I think we struggled in Qualifying, but we really only got one or two laps as the rest were all Red Flags. We need to work on that a little bit, but we’ve had good results. In Zandvoort, we were really unlucky with the Red Flags there and then we had Spa, where we had an amazing weekend. So, I think it’s just been a little bit inconsistent, but we know what we have to do. We have an idea of what we have to do to fix that for the last race weekend in Abu Dhabi and finish off the year well with a good Qualifying and two good final races.”
Facing a two-month break before the season finale in Yas Marina at the end of November, the Brazilian racer sees this time away from racing as no less important. Sitting seventh in the Drivers’ Standings, he knows he isn’t far adrift of Oliver Bearman and Victor Martins ahead and will be putting the work in to try to overhaul his nearest rivals at their last showdown this season.
“It’ll be nice, I’ll just go home and think about what we can do to improve. Obviously, there is only one round left and basically by the time you reach Abu Dhabi, all the decisions for the next year have already been made. It’s going to be a lot of decision-making in the next one to two months.
“We’re very close to the top five in the Championship. I think we’re 15 points from fifth, so the goal is to have a good last round and come out in the top five.”