Haas F1 Test and Reserve Driver Pietro Fittipaldi will step in for Nikita Mazepin on Wednesday’s Pirelli test in Abu Dhabi after the Russian tested positive for Covid-19, the team confirmed Sunday.
Ahead of Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Uralkali Haas F1 Team announced works driver Nikita Mazepin tested positive for COVID-19 ruling him out from the race and post-season testing.
A statement released by the American squad reads: “Nikita is physically well, having been asymptomatic, but he will now self-isolate and adhere to the guidelines of the relevant public health authorities, with safety the ultimate priority for all parties concerned.”
Following the news, Haas F1 confirmed through social media that their official test and reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi would be at the wheel on the second day of the Pirelli test at the Yas Marina circuit.
“I am happy to be driving next Wednesday at the F1 Pirelli Test. Thank you, Haas, for the opportunity, and get well soon my friend, Nikita,” Pietro wrote on his Twitter account.
Furthermore, Mazepin’s teammate Mick Schumacher will be in action with the new Pirelli tires on Tuesday.
As the last race of the 2021 Formula One season came to an end on Sunday, the preparations ahead of post-season testing soon began.
Pirelli, the official F1 tire supplier, will be conducting two days of post-season testing at the Yas Marina track in Abu Dhabi, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, an opportunity for the teams to test the final specification of the 18-inch tires using mule cars.
According to the tire manufacturer, “on both days, teams will be able to test the new 18-inch 2022 tires, while they have to choose just one of the two days for the test dedicated to young drivers using 13-inch tires.”
The introduction of the new compounds to the series is part of the major technical new regulations coming into effect in Formula One from next season.
A SUCCESSFUL PARTNERSHIP
The grandson of two-time Formula One champion Emerson Fittipaldi has been with Haas F1 since 2019; last week, they extended their partnership for a fourth consecutive season.
Speaking about the renewed agreement with the American squad, Fittipaldi commented: “I’m naturally very happy and excited again by the opportunity to continue my association with Uralkali Haas F1 Team. I’ve been with the team for a few seasons now, and they very much feel like family.
“I’ve learned a lot in my time, and I hope I can keep contributing with the introduction of the new generation of the Formula 1 car in 2022. It’s going to be exciting to see what’s coming with the new package, and I am obviously as keen as the rest of the team to see what the VF-22 will accomplish on track.”
Team principal Guenther Steiner outlined: “This was a very straightforward decision for us to keep Pietro on as our official test and reserve driver. He knows the inner workings of our team very well, having been with us for so long now.”
Adding: “Pietro proved to us last year that he was ready to step up and drive when required, and obviously, his presence in the team this year has brought continuity, as well.”
A year ago, the team presented the 25-year-old with the opportunity to debut in a Formula One Grand Prix.
Having not raced a Formula One car that year, he suddenly got the call to step foot in the VF-20 at the 2020 Sakhir and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - subbing in for Romain Grosjean, injured at the Bahrain GP.
In a week’s time, the Brazilian would contest his maiden racing weekend as a Formula One driver, bringing in the bag over 400 laps and 2,500 km covered.
That weekend, Pietro became the first Brazilian driver to compete at the pinnacle of motorsport for just over three years, finishing the season with two race weekends under his belt and a dream come true.
THE ROAD TO A DREAM
The chance to debut in Formula One came after four career titles and 26 wins, holding experience in some of the most important racing categories, IndyCar, Formula E, WEC, DTM, and Japanese Super Formula.
DECEMBER - A MIX OF EMOTIONS
On December 5th, the FIA Formula 2 championship, a feeder series to Formula One, started its Feature Race in Jeddah, featuring Enzo Fittipaldi, Pietro’s brother, lining up 18th on the grid - only a day before, he had earned his first points in the series.
At the start of the race, the car of French driver Theo Pourchaire, placed in third, got stalled on the grid; some drivers managed to avoid a collision but coming at high speed, the 20-year-old could not prevent running into the ART driver’s car, a 72g impact that ripped apart the front of Enzo’s car.
Both drivers got transferred to King Fahad Armed Forces Hospital; following further examination, Pourchaire was given the all-clear by the doctors.
Meanwhile, Enzo remained in observation as he sustained a fracture in his right heel and a lesion on his left eyebrow, escaping serious injury.
On Saturday, he returned to North Carolina in the US to continue the recovering process from his injuries.