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Marciello ‘Still Needs Some More Time’ Adapting to Hypercar

Raffaele Marciello “getting better every time I drive” as he adapt to BMW M Hybrid V8…

Photo: Javier Jimenez/DPPI

Raffaele Marciello says he ‘still needs some time’ as he continues his adaptation process to racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s Hypercar class after years of success in GT3, noting “it’s getting better every time” he drives the BMW M Hybrid V8.

The Swiss racer made the highly anticipated move to BMW over the winter in order to become part of the Munich marque’s top class prototype program after six years as a factory driver with Mercedes-AMG.

In addition to continuing racing in GT3, including making his first appearance with ROWE Racing at next week’s Nürburgring 24, Marciello has thus far completed three race outings behind the wheel of the M Hybrid V8.

The No. 15 car, which the Swiss racer shares with Dries Vanthoor and Marco Wittmann, picked up a pair of 15th places in Qatar and Spa, while it was disqualified at Imola for being pushed into parc ferme after the engine failed to start.

That came after a race in which a potentially promising run was effectively curtailed on the opening lap when Wittmann got caught up in a multi-car collision, the damage from which took an hour to repair.

In that race, Marciello was one of a number of drivers to find the gravel under difficult, changeable conditions.

In Spa, he then notably picked up a 30-second stop-and-go penalty for a pit lane infringement after he entered the wrong garage and then used reverse gear in the pit lane.

The Swiss driver noted that he is still in the midst of a learning curve and transition after years of almost exclusively driving Mercedes-AMG GT3 machinery, adding that certain limiting factors make his adaptation process “not so easy.”

“We don’t drive a lot in WEC, especially in Free Practice we have only three sessions that are not very long,” Marciello told Sportscar365.

“We don’t have many new tires to use, so sometimes we only drive with old tires before the race. So it’s not so easy. We also didn’t test a lot and when we were testing, the weather was always bad.

“So I’d say I still need some time because we didn’t drive the car much but it’s getting better every time I drive.

“Also Marco and Dries and even car No. 20, Rene, Sheldon and Robin, we are a good group together so we try to help each other. They help me well.”

When asked about specifics areas where he feels improvement is needed, Marciello replied:

“I’d say where now I’m struggling the most is in the braking area.

“It’s quite easy to lock [up]. I don’t know if it’s us or the car or category in general. It’s something that, [with] my driving style, I need confidence there.

“So let’s say this is a bit my weak point right now but it’s getting better. Also the car is improving in this area.”

Marciello is the latest GT star to make the transition to top-class prototype racing, with other notable examples being Ferrari stars James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi or Porsche drivers Kevin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor, Michael Christensen and Matt Campbell.

Jules Gounon, one of Marciello’s most high-profile former Mercedes-AMG teammates, took part in his first Hypercar races at Imola and Spa as he performed his duties as Alpine’s reserve driver standing in for Ferdinand Habsburg.

Marciello said that it is “not so different” driving a GT3 car and Hypercar, but pointed out that factors like tire management are one of the ‘small, complicated things’ that is important to understand.

“Lap time, it’s different but it’s not like 30 seconds quicker,” he said.

“So it’s small things, but those small things are complicated things. At the end it’s more like the tires, the degradation, sometimes the outlap is very, very tricky. So it’s small things that we have to get to used to.”

BMW sits fifth in the Hypercar manufacturers’ standings, having collected 21 points after three races with a best finish of sixth for the No. 20 car at Imola.

Marciello stressed that the marque needs to “stay calm” as it works through its debut season in the class, adding that it should not be thrown off by bad results or become overly confident after a strong race.

“It’s a long-term program so we have to stay calm, let’s say, when things go wrong or when even they go good,” he said

“Because you never know, maybe it was only a one-off. We will improve even more, so it’s something that we have to stay calm about.

“We saw last year Porsche was strong, but not as strong as this year. When the car is doing the championship, every time we go on track it’s like something new is going on. So it’s not easy.

“As I said, it’s a long-term project so we have to say calm in both conditions – when it’s good or when it’s bad. And then we will see a bit later during the year.”

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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