Fabrizio Giovanardi insists he is not worried about making his touring car comeback in the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) this weekend, where he will be racing an Alfa Romeo Giulietta for the first time.
Giovanardi, 51, is making a full-season return to racing for the first time since 2014, when he campaigned a Motorbase-built Ford Focus in the British Touring Car Championship in a difficult season that saw him score just one podium finish.
But the experienced Italian is not worried about his recent form, citing that when he struggled in the 2003 European Touring Car Championship with BMW he bounced straight back the year after and lifted the title with Alfa Romeo.
He also pointed to his difficulties in his first season in the BTCC in 2006, when he took until the mid-point of the season to score a podium, before he then lifted the title the year after in a car developed around his own style.
“When I first started in the BTCC [there were problems] because the car was made around Yvan [Muller],” explained Giovanardi to TouringCars.Net. “I had a lot of problems, because the car wasn’t suited to myself.
“I was insisting with H [Ian Harrison, then Vauxhall team boss] that this was not my car. I said ‘I cannot drive this car – don’t think I can make a miracle’. To begin with, we were driving with minus one degree in the back, to slide the car.
“At the end of the year I was driving the same car with 5.5 degrees in the back, because I was insisting, and I won races at Brands Hatch and at Knockhill. So, one year doesn’t make any sense.
“When I came back in 2014 there were changes in the rules, car and the team. I came back in the Ford, which was run by another team, and there was no time to practice. The car was very strange, close in all the changes, and a small thing in testing made a big difference in the lap time. It meant first or tenth.
“I’m not worried because I came back in 2014 and the season was a disaster. In 2002 I was driving the Alfa Romeo and then I switched to the BMW [in 2003]. I had a good start to the season and then it was a disaster, but then I went back to Alfa Romeo [in 2004] and won the championship.”
Giovanardi has only tested the Romeo Ferraris-built car for a day and a half before he arrived in Barcelona last week, but the Italian does not feel that it will hold him back and is not concerned about the Balance of Performance as he finds his way around the set-up of the car.
“I have no experience of this car, so the first question was ‘OK the car is not how I want it to feel’, but if I make changes then something feels like it has changed; it’s coming.
“We have to concentrate on the chassis and if it feels OK then maybe the question mark is BoP or the power and weight. Until the car is where I need it to be, the BoP comes second.”
The WTCR season kicks off on the streets of Marrakech in Morocco this weekend (7 – 8 April).