On Monday, DragonSpeed announced that Pietro Fittipaldi will drive the team’s LMP1-class No. 10 BR Engineering BR1-Gibson in two FIA World Endurance Championship races in the upcoming “Super Series.” Pietro, the grandson of Formula 1 World Champion and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi, will compete at Spa and Fuji alongside Ben Hanley and Henrik Hedman, drivers who previously competed with the team in the European Le Mans Series.
— DragonSpeed (@DragonSpeedLLC) March 5, 2018
Effectively, Fittipaldi’s role will be that of a substitute driver. He’ll drive in place of Renger van der Zande, who is also full-time in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for Wayne Taylor Racing.
Originally, the team only planned on having a sub for Spa since that race clashes with the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Showdown in early May. However, the ACO officially announced a date switch for the 6 Hours of Fuji to Oct. 15 during the official launch last month. As a result, Fuji is now a direct clash with the Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (due to the time difference, the Fuji race will start at about the time that the Motul Petit Le Mans ends).
Fittipaldi has very little sports car experience, but has a well-rounded body of work. Last year, Fittipaldi won the final World Series Formula V8 3.5 championship on the strength of six victories and 11 podiums in 18 starts. That championship earned him an invite to the LMP1 rookie test at the Bahrain International Circuit last year. Driving the Porsche 919 Hybrid, Fittipaldi impressed a number of onlookers.
Prior to that, he drove in a number of open-wheel feeder series in Europe. He’s actually a convert to open-wheel racing after starting his career on short tracks in the Southeastern United States. Back in 2011, he won a late model track championship at Hickory Motor Speedway at the age of 15.
In addition to his LMP1 responsibilities, Fittipaldi also has a part-time ride in the Verizon IndyCar Series this year with Dale Coyne Racing. He’ll split the season with Zach Claman de Melo in the No. 19. Fittipaldi’s schedule has seven races, including the Indianapolis 500. Fittipaldi’s INDYCAR debut is scheduled for the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix at ISM Raceway on Apr. 7.