He had one foot in Formula 1, was part of the Ferrari Driver Academy and raced against Carlos Sainz jr. and Danil Kvyat on the karting scene: Raffaele Marciello (26/I, Mann-Filter Team Landgraf – HTP/WWR) has every reason to puff his chest out proudly as he strolls through the paddock. However, the Italian, who is battling for the title in the German GT Championship, is an unassuming character: “I am not a star, but just a normal person doing his job.” The Mercedes-AMG works driver will have another opportunity to ‘do his job’ this weened (1st to 3rd October), when he lines up alongside Maximilian Buhk (28/Hamburg) in a Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo at the Sachsenring.
Long list of wins and titles
No, the stereotype of a temperamental Italian racing driver does not apply to Raffaele Marciello. The 1.90-metre tall, rangy 26-year-old, who now and again turns up in the paddock with green hair, is actually rather an introvert. Airs and graces are alien to him. “Success depends on many factors. For example, whether or not you are comfortable in the car and whether the car set-up is right. You only have a limited influence on things,” says the cycling fan, humbly. “The standard is very high in GT3 racing. There are so many strong drivers who deserve to be racing in Formula 1. I don’t want to give the impression I am a stand-out driver.”
Marciello can already look back on a long list of successes in GT3 racing. Title in the Blancpain Series, winner of the FIA GT World Cup in Macau and in the ADAC GT Masters – the Italian has established himself as one of the most sought-after drivers on the scene. He contests up to 30 race weekends per year, all over the world. Nevertheless, he does not see himself as a superstar. “Many drivers think they are stars, and they behave that way. In contrast, I don’t see myself as anything special, just because I am a racing driver. I see myself as a normal person just doing his job.” With this in mind, he and his friends and fellow racing drivers Matteo Cairoli and Marco Mapelli have initiated the hashtag #OperaioNoSuperstar (“Worker, not a superstar”). “We now even have a logo, which we have as tattoos.” For Marciello, it is all about the racing. “It is obviously my job, and I am fortunate enough to be able to earn money through motorsport. However, I primarily do it because I am passionate about it. Wherever I am driving, I do it because I enjoy it. Whether it is GT3 or something else. I have also done some rallying in Monza, and would like to take part in the Dakar Rally sometime.”
Origins in karting
Marciello’s parents are Italian, but he was born in Zurich and grew up in Lugano. He found his way into motorsport via his father: “He is a big motor racing fan, but never drove himself. When I was three and a half or four years old, he introduced me to karting. I just drove for fun at first, as I was too young to compete. Then, in 2003, I was old enough and lined up in the Swiss championship.” Marciello soon made a name for himself, owing to the success he enjoyed. Then something happened, of which every racing driver dreams: he was noticed by Ferrari. “In the European championship, it was always Nyck de Vries, Carlos Sainz jr., Danil Kvyat or me who won the races. At the end of 2009 – I was 14 at the time – Luca Baldisserri and Ferrari approached me and proposed that I join the new Driver Academy. Jules Bianchi and I were the first members. That was very special. I lived in Maranello and was supported in Formula racing by Ferrari.”
Knocking on the door of Formula 1
More victories and titles were to follow, including the Formula 3 European Championship in 2013. At the end of 2014, Marciello attended a Formula 1 test with Ferrari in Abu Dhabi. He made such a good impression that the Sauber F1 Team signed him up as test and reserve driver for 2015. On four occasions, the Italian took part in free practice at Grand Prix weekends, as the Friday driver. At the end of the year, however, came a big shock: Ferrari split from Marciello and the big Formula 1 dream was over. “I obviously dreamed of Formula 1, but fortunately there are other forms of motorsport. At some point, you have to accept that there are only a very limited number of places in F1. There are about 20 seats, of which only half are really good. I would prefer to be where I am than battling for 14th or 15th place with Alfa Romeo in Formula 1.”
Switch to GT3 racing
The Italian is now in his fifth year in GT3 racing. “After saying goodbye to Ferrari, it was a question of whether I should stop completely or reorient myself.” He tested a Lamborghini for the GRT Grasser Racing Team and was on the verge of signing a works contract with the Italian manufacturer, but then Mercedes-AMG signed him. “I had raced with Mercedes engines in Formula 3, so there was a connection. They were looking for someone to remain in their squad of drivers in the long term, and we soon reached an agreement.” A decision that he does not regret. “I am very happy where I am now. I do not need to pretend, and can be who I am. I am racing at the best tracks in the world, like Macau, Bathurst and the Nordschleife, and start in very strong championships.”
Title contender in the German GT Championship
Those strong championships include the ADAC GT Masters. This season, he lines up for a new team: Mann-Filter Team Landgraf – HTP/WWR. He got off to a perfect start with pole position and victory at the season-opener in Oschersleben. After the first eight races, “Lello” and his partner Maximilian Buhk are second in the German GT Championship, just three points behind leaders Ricardo Feller and Christopher Mies.
He is not surprised by how well things are going: “We prepared very well and the team is superbly organised. For example, in Nicolas Duval we have an engineer who I know from the GT World Series. I also know many of the mechanics from other teams. And in Maxi Buhk I have a mega team-mate. Although it is a new team, there are a lot of people there who were already familiar with the Mercedes-AMG. For this reason, we have been competitive from the word go and at every circuit.”
And what of his title chances? “The ADAC GT Masters is one of the toughest series in GT racing. It is not easy to challenge at the front of the field. It is important to consistently finish and pick up points. To be out in front in the end, you need good qualifying performance and to finish in the top five in the races. You obviously cannot influence what the other teams do, but it is important not to make any mistakes and always to do your best. That way, you can be happy with yourself in the end.”
Source. ADAC GT Masters