Christian Fittipaldi has announced that he will retire from racing after next January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, bringing an end to a career that has spanned almost thirty years and included a spell in Formula 1 in the early 1990’s and eight years in the CART championship.
However, the son of former Formula 1 driver Wilson Fittipaldi and the nephew of two-time Formula 1 champion and former Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi, has made his name racing sportscars, taking two IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship titles as well as three Rolex 24 at Daytona triumphs, including in 2018 alongside Joao Barbosa and Filipe Albuquerque for Mustang Sampling Racing.
Fittipaldi has also taken victories in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Motul Petit Le Mans and the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen during his career, but now only has two races remaining in his career, with Petit Le Mans at the end of this year coming before his final Daytona race next January.
“I owe a lot to Daytona,” admitted Fittipaldi. “I owe a lot to the France family and Daytona has brought me a lot of happiness.
“I have had a lot of success there. We won three times. I think I have six or seven podiums in total. Maybe it’s not Scott Pruett’s statistics, but it’s not bad.”
The third victory at Daytona in January started Fittipaldi’s thoughts of retirement, and by the time the 2019 race gets underway in Florida he will be forty-eight years of age, and he feels the time is right to call it a day.
“I think one of the last items of it – and it was a huge weight that came off my back – was Daytona this year,” said Fittipaldi. “After what happened in 2017 – and don’t take me wrong, I’m not here to point fingers if Ricky (Taylor) should be disqualified or if he shouldn’t. I’m way beyond that.
“If he pulled a good move or a bad move, at the end of the day, we lost the race and they won the race, and I thought we would have won the race. So, we kept that for almost a year and it was heavy inside the team.
“When we managed to pull it this year, I said, ‘Wow, three is a cool number.’ Obviously, four, five or six would be even nicer, but three is a cool number. I think that started generating the little snowball. From that point onward, I went to Long Beach and it was the first time I was out of the car and I was spotting for the team and helping out the team technically. Then something else clicked in.
“My relationship with my family, my daughter, my age, so it’s the package. It’s not one thing. It’s not that I went out there, I had a huge accident and said, ‘Whoa, now I’m afraid of doing this. I can’t do this anymore.’ It wasn’t that. It was the package and I think the timing is correct. I’m going to respect the timing a lot.”