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Fittipaldi first option to replace Mazepin

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Pietro Fittipaldi

Team principal Guenther Steiner confirmed the team’s reserve driver will have the “first call” on the seat. Steiner admitted earlier today that Mazepin’s future at the team is unsure as Haas may be about to split from title sponsor Uralkali.

This is not an argument I would expect to hold up for very long in a full-on debate, and I’ll admit I’m floating it more to make a point than because I truly believe it with all of my soul.

But even if it’s only as a stand-in while a long-term full-time solution is found amid this dramatic and fast-moving situation, Pietro Fittipaldi ought to at least be in the conversation.

I’m arguing that partly because if the team’s designated reserve driver isn’t the one called up initially when a substitute is required, then what’s the point of the reserve driver job title?

And partly because while he’s probably not in the same league as some of the options my colleagues have suggested, Fittipaldi has a decent record from a wide-ranging career outside F1 and was quietly very respectable when thrown in alongside Kevin Magnussen for the final two races of 2020 following Romain Grosjean’s accident.

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Put it this way: if Haas does need a replacement driver, then that replacement driver needs to be clearly better than the solid stand-in option it already has on its books who knows the team well and has its respect.

Third generation racer Pietro Fittipaldi is in the frame at Haas should Nikita Mazepin lose his Formula 1 seat.

The Russian faces an uncertain future following Haas’ decision to remove Uralkali branding from its cars during pre-season testing in Spain following the outbreak of hostilities in the Ukraine.

Team boss Guenther Steiner admitted on Friday that he will work through the legal and commercial implications of that decision over the coming week.

That could see Mazepin, whose father owns a stake in Uralkali, out of the drive.

Should that happen, Steiner has confirmed that Fittipaldi would be first in line to fill the spot.

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“If Nikita couldn’t drive for one or another reason, the first call would go to Pietro,” Steiner told Speed City Broadcasting’s Bob Varsha.

“Obviously, he [has been] with us for a few years, and then we would see what we do next.

“But I mean Pietro is always around with us for a reason. The last years, we needed a reserve driver, having COVID around, so he is always around.

“He knows the team, he knows the car to jump in for one day to the other. There is nobody better than Pietro around at the moment.”

Fittipaldi has been test driver for Haas since 2019 and completed two races for the American-registered squad in 2020 in place of the injured Romain Grosjean.

His most recent outing came at the wheel of the team’s 2021 car, the VF21, as part of the post-season test in Abu Dhabi last December.

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The 25-year-old is the grandson of two-time world champion Emerson Fittipaldi.

Pietro Fittipaldi
Pietro Fittipaldi

Fittipaldi first option to replace Mazepin Fittipaldi first option to replace Mazepin Fittipaldi first option to replace Mazepin

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