Having only made his single-seater debut two years ago, Charouz Racing System rookie Francesco Pizzi’s career has accelerated at a faster rate than even he’d have imagined.
Initially planning for two seasons in Formula 4, Pizzi won the UAE F4 title in 2020, while also finishing second in Italian F4, opening the door for an earlier than excepted switch to Formula Regional.
And although his rookie season in Formula Regional ended without any silverware, Pizzi had already done enough to pique the interest of Charouz Racing System, who offered the Italian an opportunity in Formula 3 that he felt was too good to turn down.
“We only started talking late December,” he recalled. “I finished Regional and thought that I was going to stay in Regional. I had done all of the post-season testing, but we started talks with Charouz and we were really happy.
“The team have improved a lot since 2019, with some experienced drivers helping to develop the cars. Last year they showed that they can be competitive, so we decided to come into F3.”
With eight wins and 10 podiums in UAE F4 and a further three wins and seven podiums in Italian F4, Pizzi was accustomed to fighting at the front. So, a spell in the midfield of a competitive Formula Regional grid provided him with a different experience, one that he believes will ultimately benefit him in the long term.
“We planned to do two years in F4, but the first season was so good that we thought it was the best choice for us to move to Formula Regional,” he recalled. “Due to certain circumstances, we weren't at the same level in Regional, but it was still only a year after I had moved from karting.
“I learned a lot from fighting in the midfield, as opposed to being at the front of the grid, which can sometimes be a bit easier. In the middle of the pack, there are a lot of things you cannot control.
“There is a lot more fighting, and you have to make the most of all your opportunities. You have to maximise every inch of the track. I improved my Qualifying pace as well, which in F4 was another weak point.”
Charouz enjoyed their best season of F3 in 2021, finishing fifth with 127 points after Logan Sargeant scored the team’s first podium and race win, the American credited with helping to develop the car and lift the team to new heights.
Along with László Tóth, and a yet to be announced third driver, Pizzi will be aiming to carry on this success in 2022, but given his lack of experience, the 17-year-old says there won’t be any pressure on him to perform straight away.
“We know that I am a rookie, so we will be calm and won’t be putting on too much pressure,” he explained. “It’s going to be tough, but that's why we race. This is a tough sport.
“We’re not expecting much at the start because I will have to adapt to the car and learn a lot, but we’ll work as hard as possible to be competitive as soon as possible. We will work really hard in testing to get ready for the first race.
“In Bahrain, we'll look to fix the weaknesses that I have as a driver, because of course I have my little weaknesses, and then once we have fixed those, we can start trying to gain a tenth here and there every session.
“But at the beginning, we'll focus on trying to adapt from F4 and Formula Regional to F3, because it’s a different car and a different driving style. I won't be stopping from now to Bahrain. We are not there just to participate. We want to extract as much as we can from the season.”