Fittipaldi swaps Baku reserve duties for Le Mans bow

Jon Wilde
Pietro Fittipaldi in the F1 paddock. Bahrain March 2022.

Pietro Fittipaldi in the Formula 1 paddock. Bahrain March 2022.

Pietro Fittipaldi will not be serving as Haas’ reserve driver in Baku this weekend – for he is making his Le Mans 24 Hours debut instead.

The Brazilian admitted at the start of this season he was disappointed to have been overlooked for a race seat at Haas in favour of Kevin Magnussen after Nikita Mazepin was ousted from the team.

But the 25-year-old, born in Miami, who raced twice for Haas at the end of 2020 following Romain Grosjean’s horrific Bahrain crash, continues as the understudy to Magnussen and Mick Schumacher.

That will not be the case for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, however, as Fittipaldi is himself racing in the famous French endurance test – one of a trio taking the wheel for the Inter Europol team in the secondary prototype class, LMP2.

“I’m very excited for the race,” said Fittipaldi. “Last year I raced the Indy 500 so I know how intense that was and I’m expecting Le Mans to be something similar, just in terms of the intensity and preparation behind it.

“You are there for two weeks basically preparing for the race and it means so much because Le Mans has so much history – it’s one of the most important races in the world, alongside the Indy 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix. They are the big three crowns.

“Every driver wants to win it, and to be racing in it for the first time is pretty cool.”

Fittipaldi is no stranger to the Polish team he will be racing for, having competed for them in the two previous rounds of the European Le Mans series this year with finishing positions of 11th and ninth.

“We have a good car – in the first ELMS race we were running in the top three with good pace but we had two tyre failures,” explained Fittipaldi.

“In the last race, we struggled a little bit with set-up but we hope to turn things around for Le Mans.”

As for his future racing plans, he added: “I’d like to stick to one series so I can focus on it, whether it’s full-time IndyCar, full-time F1 or full-time prototypes in endurance racing.”

Inter Europol also have a second car running at Le Mans which features former Sauber and Haas F1 driver Esteban Gutierrez.

The ex-F1 contingent with the best chance of outright success, for they compete in the Hypercar class, are Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Kamui Kobayashi.

Aiming to win their respective categories will be Felipe Nasr, Robert Kubica, Sebastien Bourdais, Will Stevens, Jack Aitken, Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella.