Charouz Racing System’s last year competing independently gave team principal Bob Vavrik many headaches as funds failed to materialise, but he believes Enzo Fittipaldi’s Formula 2 season demonstrated Charouz’s potential.
Fittipaldi was second in three feature races and claimed three other podiums to come eighth in the standings, and went into the final round in contention to be championship runner-up.
His results impressed Red Bull Junior Team boss Dr Helmut Marko sufficiently enough to sign him for 2023, and he is set to be announced as one of Carlin’s F2 drivers for next year.
As Logan Sargeant’s performances in FIA Formula 3 last year exemplified, having one competitive driver in place for the whole season could allow Charouz to follow a development direction and show what it could achieve.
“If you have good material then you can score as you like,” says Vavrik. “[Enzo had] a good season, I was very happy with that. He did a good job but also I need to thank the team [which] did an excellent job on the sporting side.
“Enzo was good in the races but also because we made a good strategy. His talent in racing and the talent of the team; it was just a perfect setup for the result, very good teamwork. We deserved it, let’s say.”
While Fittipaldi could enjoy a full season in the #22 car, there were three drivers in the sister #23 machine through the season. Although two of Charouz’s FIA F3 drivers did all rounds, its other cars had rotated through six drivers by season’s end.
It is no secret that Charouz was required to take drivers with a budget, even if only enough to cover one or two rounds, to help it reach the end of 2022.
Managing the team’s finances and payments from sponsors, or rather the lack of them, and the resulting churn of drivers made this season “very difficult”.
“As everybody knows we changed several drivers and that was always for financial reasons,” Vavrik acknowledges. “Of course, this has an impact on the team and the workload because changing a driver is not just jumping in, putting the seat belts on and away you go.”
Making financial ends meet means: “Finding a driver to cover the missing bit from the driver that doesn’t have the luck to cover the season completely. If the money’s not there, we need to find a solution. And if there is no solution, we need to find a replacement. Taking all the aspects – political, money – it’s not easy.
“Sometimes the sponsors or the parents are too optimistic,” he adds, believing that once the driver is in the car his results will generate the missing budget. But all too often the promised funds are delayed by months or fails to arrive at all.
“If you have five drivers like that then the team is just bankrupt, it’s simple, because it’s all related to the cash flow and the payments.”
Next year the team races as PHM Racing by Charouz following a takeover.