A remarkable return to karting
Antonio Fuoco had a successful career in karting before he left to try his luck in single-seater racing at the beginning of 2013. He rose through the ranks to reach Formula 2 and a position as a test driver with Ferrari, after having been a member of the Academy of the famous Italian team. The 24 year old Italian did not hesitate to return to a karting paddock to take part in the FIA Karting World Championship – KZ.
How did the idea of taking part in this world event in Lonato come about?
I know Charles Leclerc very well. We were team-mates in 2017 in F2 at Prema Racing and we became friends. He told me about the brand he created with the Birel ART factory and his team led by Jordon Lennox-Lamb. Then he suggested that I come back to drive and take part in the KZ World Championship. The idea appealed to me. I’ve always loved the karting world, I always take great pleasure in walking around the paddock and settling down in a kart. Of course, it reminded me of my last international season in 2012, when I was a rival in KF2 with Charles and Jordon!
Has karting always been in your heart?
This discipline represents a part of my youth, I can’t forget it. In recent years, I have already raced when the opportunity presented itself. Thanks to its partnership with the OTK factory, the Ferrari Driver Academy has often organised karting days, which has resulted in two participations in the Winter Cup in Lonato in 2017 and 2018 on a Tony Kart-Vortex.
What did you find most difficult about this competition?
Being fast was not too much of a problem for me. In fact, in the final, I set a faster time than the top three! Physically and mentally, I didn’t suffer either. On the other hand, it was more difficult to get used to the intensity of the races again against experienced drivers, who race all year long. Getting the feeling back on rain tyres was another challenge. Remember that I ended my career in KF2, with a direct drive kart, without having raced in KZ. That’s why, in the end, my progression from 16th to 11th place in the final made me happy. I can be proud of my performance, especially as I did not have the time to test much before this competition.
What is your best memory in karting?
The Junior-KF3 World Cup in 2011 in Sarno! I won all six heats and I started on pole position in the prefinal ahead of Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc. Esteban Ocon was two or three rows behind. There was also Lance Stroll and George Russell. Charles won, but I finished in a nice 5th place. The following year, I finished 4th in the European KF2 Championship. This time brought me great satisfaction and let me learn a lot. All the basics of motor sport, how to manage a race or the first analyses of data acquisition, I acquired them in karting.
2020 FIA Karting Best-of / Photo © KSP