Q&A with Pietro Fittipaldi

Before the Haas VF-19 launch

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By Olivier Ferret

16 February 2019 - 17:06
Q&A with Pietro Fittipaldi

Since being announced as Rich Energy Haas F1 Team’s test driver last November, and testing the VF-18 at the Pirelli tire test at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi that same month, what have your activities been within the team over the off-season?

“My off-season really hasn’t been too long. From Abu Dhabi I went back to North Carolina, that’s where my family lives, so I stayed there for a month on holiday. I’ve been back living in Italy, in Maranello, since January working in the simulator along with Romain (Grosjean) and Kevin (Magnussen). We’ve been working through the plan for the 2019 season, specifically working on the new aero specifications in the simulator. It definitely felt like a short off-season.”

Share what a typical day in the simulator consists of from meeting with engineers, studying the run-plan, to the actual driving element? What are the parameters for a successful day in the simulator?

“The simulator is an important tool nowadays for all Formula One teams. With the test restrictions, it’s not like the old days where you could have a test team and just go out and do loads of testing. We’re really restricted these days with the number of tests you can do, so the investment goes into simulation work. The simulators these days are very good, they’re very similar to the real car. The engineers will send me a run plan beforehand, so I can prepare for the track we’re going to be using in the simulator. If they want to test something new on the aero side, or on the mechanical side, they’ll test it all in the simulator first, before trying it on track. They’ll see how it correlates and how it looks on the data.”

You’re scheduled for two half-day sessions driving the VF-19 in Barcelona in the first week of preseason testing. What are your expectations for the test and how valuable is it to you to drive the VF-19 at the start of the season assisting in the team’s development of the new car?

“I’m really look forward to the test. I got to test the 2018 car at the end of last year and now I get to try the 2019 car in preseason testing. Any time you get to drive a Formula One car, it’s something you really look forward to. The main focus on the test will be to assist the team to develop the car as much as possible before the first race of the season. I’m sure there’ll be a lot of test items the team will want to go through. We’ll want to see how reliable the new car is, I’m sure we’ll be aiming for a lot of miles. The goal at the end of the day, as a driver, is to go as fast as possible, to drive the car as fast as you can, but it’s also to give the team really good feedback. That’s crucial to the development of the car before the first race.”

How closely are you working alongside regular drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen? What are their strengths, from what you’ve observed, and how does your skillset complement their styles?

“It’s been really good to be working with Romain (Grosjean) and Kevin (Magnussen). They’re two great guys and we all get along well. That’s good for the team atmosphere. They’re experienced drivers in Formula One, so for me, I’m able to learn from them and feed off their experience. That’s really important for me.”

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