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Formula 1

Italy pin hopes on new starlet: Still a long way to Formula 1

With Antonio Giovinazzi, the Italian F1-tifosi have a countryman driving in Formula 1. Nevertheless, it has been more than a decade since an Italian drove for Ferrari in F1. In the land of the Scuderia, however, fans are cautiously optimistic that a new Italian driver will take the grid for the Maranello-based team.

Gabriele Mini is viewed by Italian motorsport fans as the greatest Italian talent of his generation, and there are hopes that in a few years time the 15-year-old will be on the grid for Ferrari in Formula 1.

The youngster still speaks modestly about his future, the Sicilian-born and raised driver realising in an interview with RacingNews365.com that he still has a long road ahead of him towards the top class of motorsport.

"Of course, my goal is to reach Formula 1, but I realise that it is very difficult to actually achieve that goal," said the modest Mini. "I am an Italian and also love my country, so logically the best scenario would be to drive for Ferrari in Formula 1 one day. Still, it's very difficult to get into F1, so let me first make sure I get into Formula 1 before I can dream about the Scuderia."

As with so many racing talents, Mini's career began at an early age with karting. The Italian left a big impression as soon as he took to the grid, which helped him advance to Formula cars.

"I was still a child when my father gave me my first kart," Mini added. "My father was a racing driver himself, so the kart was a logical gift. When I drove my kart for the first time, I immediately got the hang of it so it actually went on step by step.

"It all went pretty fast, from regional classes I went to national classes and in 2021 I will be racing internationally in the Formula Alpine championship. Looking back at the past few years, I am especially proud of my WSK kart title in 2017 and my victory in the Formula 4 championship last year at Monza. I beat my fellow competitor Francesco Pizzi in the final meters of the race!"

Thanks to his good performance, Mini will make the switch to the Formula Alpine championship in 2021 where he will be the teammate of Thomas ten Brinke.

"I know I still have a lot to learn, so that is also my main goal for 2021," Mini added. "I need to learn as much as I can at ART Grand Prix and at the same time compete for the top places as much as I can. It's possible as our team has a very competitive car.

"It is important with bigger cars that you handle the tyre wear of a car well. This is because tyre wear is high and so it is important to be able to control the car well. Looking back at last year, I think that's where my main point of improvement lies."

In terms of personal development, the Italian talent will be helped by Nicolas Todt, among others. The Frenchman is not only Charles Leclerc's manager, but has also taken Mini under his wing.

"I have a very good relationship with Nicolas, he is very important for me," Mini stated. "He gives me a lot of advice and tries to guide me as well as possible. It's nice to have him as a manager and to drive for ART. I am sure they can help me with many things. Together we are already working hard towards the 2021 season which will start in April. I will also be in the simulator more often in the coming weeks. I would have liked to have driven in the Asian Formula 3 Championship as well, but I was still too young for that. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to participate in that championship this season."

Mini revealed his idol is Ayrton Senna, though due to his young age, he was never able to see the Brazilian in action before his passing in 1994.

"It may sound a little strange, but my idol is really Senna," Mini revealed. "That's because my father was a big fan of his and always talked about him when I was a kid. I found the stories so fascinating that I started looking them up on Youtube. Every morning during breakfast I would look for images of Senna and I learned a lot about him. That's why he is my idol. When it comes to the current Formula 1 grid, of course I'm a fan of Leclerc, as it is nice to see the road he has taken towards Formula 1."

"I've spoken with Charles several times, as he often comes to watch his brother Arthur," Mini said with an admiring look. Logically then, the ART Grand Prix driver is hoping Leclerc has a strong 201. "Of course, I follow Formula 1 closely and I hope Ferrari will do better in 2021 than last year. Nevertheless, I think Merceds will still be the strongest team this season, although I hope Red Bull will be able to put even more pressure on Mercedes."

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