2016 GP2 Year in Review: Raffaele Marciello
If there were a large prize in motorsport for having the most consistent season, Raffaele Marciello would be nominated. He never won a race in GP2 in 2016, but he was worthy of a place in the top four of the standings after finishing every race.
Points: 159 (4th)
Car No.: 9
Driver Name: Raffaele Marciello
Team Name: Russian Time
Total Races: 22
Average Start: 6.8
Average Finish: 6.2
Marciello was the only driver on the GP2 grid to finish every race of the season in a campaign that was probably slightly underrated as he never stood on the top step. He has not won in the series since 2014 but has spectacularly finished in each of his last 43 starts without a DNF.
The Italian steadily started the season with three points-scoring finishes before third-placed finishes in the Monaco sprint race and European feature race. In the feature race, he led before being passed by eventual winner Antonio Giovinazzi and Sergey Sirotkin, with the Russian getting past in the final meters.
The third podium in four races came in Austria’s sprint race after finishing 11th in the feature and failing to score points for the first time in the season. Despite this, he led the championship after round four, the only time he was on top of the standings with 58 points.
Just one more podium came between the rest of July and August, though, with a third place in Germany’s feature a highlight amongst a summer of consistent points finishes.
He was unlucky not to win at his home track in Italy at the start of September after leading much of the feature race. He used a different harder strategy to other drivers alongsideGiovinazzi, but his compatriot got past him on the final lap of the event.
His next near-win came in Malaysia’s sprint race as he came from third on the grid to try and chase down eventual winner Luca Ghiotto. He put all the pressure he could on his compatriot, but couldn’t find the pass to step on the top step.
After his points-scoring streaks, Marciello was the only non-Prema Racing driver to go into the final round in Abu Dhabi with a chance of winning the title, but a tenth-placed finish in the feature and finishing 13th in the sprint gave him just one point from the weekend. This allowed Sirotkin to pass him in the championship in the final race, with the ART Grand Prix driver finishing ahead on countback of having two victories earlier in the season.
His consistency in 2016 is a good metaphor for his career so far. After three seasons he has slowly improved from eighth and seventh in the championship to fourth and from two seasons with four podiums to six this year. Could a fourth season put him in the top three for the first time?
Highlight of 2016: Three podiums in four races in his best run of the season, or almost winning in Italy, which is surely a personal highlight. Being involved in his first championship showdown, albeit with just a small chance of winning the title in Abu Dhabi is another thing for Marciello to be proud of, something that isn’t bad to have experience of.
Downfall of 2016: Not finding a win. Not having slightly better results and ultimately falling out of the top three in the championship will probably be used by some to criticize his current career.
Notes for 2017: Nothing has been announced over Marciello’s future yet, but he did take part in GP2 post-season testing in Abu Dhabi after the season had ended. He competed in two days of testing for Trident in their no. 14 car. The two raced with each other in the 2015 season, but could there be a possible reunion on the cards?
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