Pietro Fittipaldi has confirmed today that he will drive a part-time schedule in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series with Dale Coyne Racing. Pietro will drive the #19 Honda in seven races of the championship this year, the highlight of which being the Indianapolis 500 in May.
After having taken part in his second on-track test with Dale Coyne at Sonoma Raceway, Pietro broke the news of his contract on Twitter, writing: “After a great test yesterday at Sonoma, I am very happy to announce that I will be racing with Dale Coyne Racing in IndyCar this season!”
Fittipaldi, who won last year’s Formula V8 3.5 series with Lotus, admitted late last year that a number of opportunities were available for several different series, including the likes of Formula Two and the World Endurance Championship. However, his other option in IndyCar really began to fall into place when he took part in his first test with DCR last month at Sebring International Raceway.
Pietro will complete a partial schedule of the Verizon IndyCar Series seventeen-round calendar for 2018, the highlight being the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 at the end of May. This will be the first time in almost twenty-three years that a Fittipaldi has taken part in the world-famous race.
Christian Fittipaldi was the last member of the family to race at the Brickyard when he finished second on his first try; earning himself the rookie of the year title for the event. Pietro will also be following in the footsteps of his two-time Formula One world champion Grandfather, Emerson Fittipaldi, who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1989 and 1993.
“This is a dream come true, even more so to be racing in the Indy 500, where my family already has a history of great results,” added Fittipaldi later on in the day, “I want to thank the entire team at Dale Coyne Racing, along with [primary backer] Escuderia Telmex for this massive opportunity and important step in my career.
“It’s no secret that I also have an objective to one day race in Formula 1, so I’m excited to be racing on a world stage like IndyCar this year.”
As well as racing in the Indy 500, Fittipaldi will contest in six other races on the calendar. His debut will come at Arizona’s ISM Raceway in April. In May he will race in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the road course before moving over to the oval at the end of the month.
Pietro will return to the cockpit of the #19 car two a few weeks later at Texas Motor Speedway before undergoing an almost two-month wait before he gets back behind the wheel at Mid Ohio at the end of July. His final two races will be the last two races on the calendar, the Grand Prix of Portland and the Grand Prix of Sonoma; both of which take place in September.
Today’s news comes just one day after Dale Coyne’s race engineer for the #19 car, Michael Cannon, commented on how fantastic Fittipaldi had been during his two tests at Sebring in January and then Sonoma Raceway on Monday:
“He’s fantastic, a really pleasant surprise at Sebring,” Cannon said in an interview with Motorsport.com. “We only knew what he’d done, not how he’d be. But within two sessions there, he was pretty much up to speed. This place [Sonoma Raceway] is more of a challenge, but he’s acquitting himself pretty well already on his second set of tires.
“He’s very, very level-headed, very serious and very focused – a truly professional racecar driver.”
Dale Coyne Racing has yet to confirm who will be joining Fittipaldi in the #19 car for the remaining ten races of the season, but all signs are pointing toward the imminent announcement of Zachary Claman DeMelo. The Canadian Indy Lights graduate has also been testing with DCR over the last few weeks alongside Pietro.
Pre-season testing continues for the Verizon IndyCar Series this week. Dale Coyne Racing will be in action with their new signing Fittipaldi at ISM Raceway for the circuit’s open test. After that, there will be just over a month to go until the first round of the season, the Grand Prix of St Petersburg, which takes place on March 11.