Formula One’s sole American squad, the Haas F1 Team has announced that it has retained Pietro Fittipaldi as test and reserve driver for the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. The team’s newcomer Nikita Mazepin has carried out his seat fit.
Fittipaldi, grandson of two-time Formula One world champion Emerson Fittipaldi, made his first two Formula 1 starts last December at the Sakhir Grand Prix and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - subbing for the injured Romain Grosjean.
Ahead of his F1 debut at the end of the season, the Miami-born Brazilian driver attended the majority of Formula 1 races in 2020 in his role as test and reserve driver, so he had the opportunity to integrate himself into the team. The American outfit has now confirmed that Fittipaldi would again support the team trackside throughout 2021.
“We’re all delighted to continue our relationship with Pietro Fittipaldi,” said Team Principal Guenther Steiner. “The role of test and reserve driver means you might be called up to drive at very short notice and that turned out to be the case for Pietro in Bahrain at the end of 2020.
“Despite the demands of driving with little time to prepare, he undoubtedly did a solid job for us – not least as he hadn’t even tested the VF-20. He didn’t get caught up in the moment, he proved patient and ultimately, he did what he was asked to do – he brought the car home in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.
„That first-hand race experience will only serve to add value in terms of what he brings to the team in his role this season. We look forward to working with Pietro and having him with us again throughout the year,” Steiner added.
Prior to his debut at the Sakhir Grand Prix, Fittipaldi had tested both the VF-18 and VF-19 Haas F1 cars in 2018 and 2019. He has achieved his best racing result in 2017 when he was crowned World Series Formula V8 3.5 champion.
Fittipaldi added: “I’m grateful to Gene [Haas, team owner] and Guenther for the opportunity once again. I’ve been working with the engineers now for a couple of years and I really feel like it’s a big family at Haas.
“It’s a great pleasure for me to be able to continue working with the team. With the two races I ran last year, it just helped me gain even more experience, and I’m sure that’s going to help me be able to contribute more to the team as a result.
“I’m really looking forward to the new season and I’m just really excited to be continuing my relationship with Haas and being with them again in Bahrain in March.”
The Haas F1 team has also released a video on social media, showing that it has completed the seat fit with Nikita Mazepin. The Russian is set to join the pinnacle of motorsport in F1 following his career in the FIA Formula 2 series.
The 21-year-old Moscow-born driver created controversy at the end of 2020 when he posted a video of himself groping a female in the back of a car.
“Having Nikita at the factory was good for us all as it means we are getting closer to the start of the season, frankly,” Steiner is qouted by Racer.
“We continue to have dialogue with Nikita about many things, including what happened at the end of last season.
“He took immediate responsibility for his actions — he apologised. He’s learned from this experience, he’s undoubtedly been chastened by it, and he will apply that moving forward in his Formula 1 career,” he said.