Fittipaldi aims for IndyCar return and reserve F1 drive

Pietro Fittipaldi, currently subbing for Romain Grosjean in the Haas F1 team, is hoping to return to IndyCar in 2021 while remaining as a reserve driver in Formula 1.

The 2017 World Series Formula V8 3.5 champion ran six races for Dale Coyne Racing-Honda in 2018 but had his schedule disrupted by a heavy crash in a WEC car at Spa that left Fittipaldi with broken legs. That meant he missed the Indianapolis 500 and was driving in considerable pain when he returned to IndyCar in July.

Despite this, late in the season, he was named as test and reserve driver for Haas F1, combining this with DTM and F3 Asia drives.

Following Romain Grosjean’s accident at Bahrain, Fittipaldi was drafted into Haas team’s race seat alongside Kevin Magnussen in the Sakhir GP, and remains in the second car this weekend for the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

“I am using this opportunity to help me secure deals for next season,” the 24-year-old Brazilian responded to Motorsport.com’s questioning. “For sure, I would like the opportunity one day to come back as race driver.

“I know for next year that’s not possible. I’d like to still keep a foot in Formula 1. But you know, if I can keep a foot in Formula 1 and race IndyCar or something – that would be my ideal scenario. That’ll be really a dream for me. That would be great.

“But… who knows if an opportunity comes in the following years for me to come back and race in Formula 1? I really enjoyed it. I’m going to miss it now. I’m a little spoiled because now I raced in Formula 1 and I want to come back…”

“The only possible role I can have in Formula 1 next year, since there aren’t really any race drives available, would be to continue as a reserve driver. So for sure I’d be open to continue with Haas. I haven’t spoken to Gunther [Steiner, team principal] about it yet. That depends a lot on what I’m racing.

“I have to prioritize the comeback to racing full time next season. But like I said, I want to still stay in Formula 1.

“And in IndyCar? It is a goal for next year. In fact, I raced in IndyCar before, I adapted well to the car, we had top 10 finishes, when I was racing injured. So, I know I can do well there. And it’s a great series with great drivers.

“So if I can get the opportunity to race there next year and still be in Formula 1, it would be the ideal situation.”

The opportunities are closing within IndyCar, however. Although not all of Andretti Autosport’s deals have yet been announced, Michael Andretti is focused on keeping the same five drivers he ran at the end of last season, while fellow team owner Ed Carpenter told Motorsport.com last week that his priority is to retain Conor Daly and the U.S. Air Force sponsorship to again partner Rinus VeeKay in 2021.

A.J. Foyt, for whom Sebastien Bourdais has been signed for several months, need a paying driver in the second seat, and the same is true of Carlin.

That would suggest that Fittipaldi could return to Coyne, who is currently keeping several options open since Alex Palou has departed for Ganassi and Santino Ferrucci is apparently undecided.

Fittipaldi said: “There’s a couple of [IndyCar] teams… I mean, I’ll let you know. The teams are there and there’s possibilities there. For sure we’re speaking and we’re trying to move forward with things.”

He also told Motorsport.com that there were options beside F1 and IndyCar.

“I’m looking at WEC as well,” said Fittipaldi. “That’s a series that I think in the future could, you know, with the Hypercars and new regulations, I think there’s gonna be manufacturers coming into it… It is a possible option for next year as well.

“And also Formula E. I mean, I did a lot of testing and development work for Jaguar in Formula E for about a season and a half, basically, two seasons, and tested twice with them. You know, I was second in the rookie test the first time I tested with them, and I tested the Gen 1 and Gen 2 car.

“So I adapted well to the Formula E car too. And I know Formula E is now going to start. Formula E is definitely something that I would also look at, and like I said, WEC is something we’re looking at also for next year.”

 

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