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Interview with Francesco Castellacci

He is young, talented and drove to the championship in one of the most prestigious GT championships. Of course, we are talking about the Italian rising star Francesco Castellacci. After a career in single seaters, he made the move to the GT cars and definitely with result. In his first year, he won the FIA GT3 European Championship. RacingInside.com spoke to the talented Italian driver.

Francesco CastellacciFrancesco, you are a talented Italian driver and some of our visitors will certainly know who you are. But could you please give a short introduction about yourself to the visitors that do not know you?
Yes, first of all thanks for the talented driver! I was born in Rome and after starting my career in go-karts, I decided to move to single seaters in 2005 with the Formula Azzurra. In 2007 I went to live in the UK, because I participated in the British Formula 3 Championship, which I think is the best motorsport school. After British Formula 3, I continued in the Italian Formula 3 with the new FIAT engines until 2010. This year I decided to move to GT cars, because of budgetary reasons and also because I think that the real professional racing is in GT and endurance races, where you have all the car manufacturers competing against each other.

How did you get involved in racing? Have you always wanted to become a racedriver yourself and did your parents always support you?
My parents were not supporting me at the beginning. In fact, I started competing with the go-karts quite late, at the age of 14! Only because I could go by myself to the go-karting circuit at that age. Imagine that, sometimes, I was going there without the permission of my parents and skipping the days at school secretly. Racing is my life and it is my passion. I am working hard every day, to let it become my profession!

Did you start your career, like many other drivers, in karting? Do you think karting will be an essential step in the career of a race driver?
Yes, I think that karting is fundamental in a racing career. But it is not very important for the driving experience, because in single seaters there is a totally different driving style. The reason I think it is very important, is because when you are young it helps you to develop the racing attitude and built your character.

You have raced in different cars throughout the years. You drove Formula Azzurra and Formula 3, before you went to the GT cars. What is the best car you have driven with, and why?
I have also tested in GP2 and World Series by Renault, and I would say that the Formula 3 is the best school in racing. Once you learn how to go fast with a Formula 3 car, you can go fast with everything! For this reason, I decided to do four years in Formula 3, to learn as much as possible and be ready to win in the GT cars!

During the 2011 season, you became the champion in FIA GT3 Europe with the Ferrari 458 Italia from AF Corse. What does it feel like to become the champion in such a fantastic championship?
The FIA GT3 European Championship is really a fantastic and competitive championship. With thirty cars on the grid and eight different manufacturers, which are competing against each other to build the most powerful and competitive car! To win this championship with AF Corse and Ferrari is still like a dream for me, especially because I am an Italian driver and I won with an Italian team and an Italian car! It is really great!

Every race driver has good and bad moments during his career. What is your best moment in racing, until now? What is the moment you would like to forget as soon as possible?
The best moment in my career is certainly this season, the 2011 season, where all my efforts of a life spent in racing have gave me this great success.

Actually, I would not call it bad moments. I would call it the most difficult part of my career, and it was the last season in Italian F3 in 2010. That season I had a lot of experience in this category and I was aiming for the best year of my career in Formula 3, instead everything went unexpected. But from these moments I have learned a lot to be strong and to never give up, so I do not regret it and I would live it again!

Castellacci driving in FIA GT3 European Championship

If you take a look at your future, what will the future bring to you then? Are there special targets that have to be accomplished during your career?
This year, I also won the Michelin Award. That will permit me to move to the new GT1 World Championship. Anyway, my target and goal is to make my passion a real job; this means to become a professional factory racing driver.

If you could change your life with another racedriver for just one day, who will be the one you are changing with?
I think I would change with Fernando Alonso, because I think that he races with his heart and he always shows his real feelings without fear.

Although the racedriver is the one that really scores the results, there are always a lot of people on the background that also have a big influence on the results and career of a racedriver (sponsors, mechanics etc.). Is there a special person in your career that you would like to thank, and why is that person special to you?
Yes, I would like to thank my manager and great friend Gianpaolo Matteucci, which in these last four years has been next to me in all the good and bad moments and always supported me in the right way. He has letting me understand many fundamental aspects, to become a real professional racing driver!

Many people think that the life of a racedriver is all fun and just a dream. But if you take a look to the ‘inside’ of racing, what is the hardest part of being a race driver?
I think that, in general, the life of a racing driver is not like people think; all fun and one big dream. Or actually, I would say the life of a real professional racing driver, because ninety-nine percent of the racing drivers just think they are professionals, but at the end they are not! It is a really high selection, and only very little, I could say, are real professionals. And by this, I mean that you need to be ready to sacrifice everything for your passion. It is starting at your private life; because you need to train every day and in any conditions, you need to stay focused and concentrated inside, but even outside the racing car, because a real racing driver is an athlete in all the aspects.

What would you like to say to everyone that is dreaming of a career in racing?
I would say to simply follow your heart! If racing is the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning and the last thing when you go to sleep, then it is worth to try this crazy and risky adventure. But always be conscious that it is a long way to the top!