Pietro Fittipaldi is full of excitement as his first Indianapolis 500 approaches, in his opinion the biggest event that racing has to offer.
The Brazilian racer made his Formula 1 debut in 2020 with Haas, contesting the Sakhir and Abu Dhabi GPs, but now he prepares for another first, that being his maiden attempt at the Indy 500.
Fittipaldi, grandson of two-time Formula 1 World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi, will contest the Indy 500 with Dale Coyne Racing in the place of ex-Haas driver Romain Grosjean who will not be taking part in IndyCar’s oval events.
As a child Fittipaldi would watch the action unfold at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as his love for the Indy 500 began, and now the chance has arrived for him to compete in this spectacle, one he feels is the greatest to be found anywhere in racing.
“I’m very excited because I’ve been watching the Indy 500 for a long time,” he said.
“I think the first 500 I went to was when my uncle, Max Papis, was racing in 2006, and ever since I’ve watched every year.
“For me, it’s the biggest race in the world and if you win that, you make history, so to be racing in it I’m super-excited and looking forward to it.
“I think it’s huge, not only in the US but in the world, because if you win the 500 it makes such a difference for your personal career and for your team as well. You win the race and it’s going to be remembered for years.
“When you go there yourself, you realize how huge the race is. I was there on the grid that year when my uncle was racing and there were 400,000 people in the stands.
“When everyone stands up for the engines starting, you can hear the vibrations of the crowd. I’ve never been to a race where you have so many people watching it together at the same time.
“I’m proud as well to be representing Haas in the Indy 500, even if it’s only in a small way, I’m super proud and happy to be doing it.”
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) May 23, 2021
Of course to be able to take part in the Indy 500 on May 30, first the drivers had to qualify.
Fittipaldi had no problem doing that though as he qualified P13 with an average speed of 230.846mph over four laps.
For his efforts Fittipaldi was awarded ‘Fastest Rookie of the Year’, putting him among famous names such as Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve on the trophy.
“I was awarded the fastest rookie for the Indy 500 award, which they’ve been doing for many years, as I was the fastest rookie in qualifying,” he explained.
“My name was put on this special trophy that they have every name and speed in qualifying of the fastest rookie each year. There are names on there such as Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve, so to be put on the same trophy alongside some of those legends was a huge honour for me.
“When I was there waiting to qualify on Saturday, every car goes out one-by-one and you’re waiting by your car – the adrenaline that builds up is crazy and is unlike any other thing I’ve done.
“It was amazing to go out and qualify and to be averaging 230 miles per hour for four laps was something incredible and something I really enjoyed.”