Formula 3.5 champion Pietro Fittipaldi has joined Haas F1 Team as test and development driver for the 2019 Formula 1 season.
The 22-year-old, who spent the second half of the season competing in the IndyCar championship, has been in talks to test with the team earlier this year, before breaking both his legs in a sports car crash ahead of the 6 Hours of Spa.
He will start his testing duties at the Pirelli tyre test in Abu Dhabi at the end of the season.
“I’m pleased to welcome Pietro Fittipaldi to Haas F1 team and we look forward to working with him,” said team principal Guenther Steiner.
“He brings a championship winning pedigree with his junior open-wheel career, and more recently he has acquitted himself well running in the IndyCar series.
“We’re happy to provide Pietro his first test in a Formula 1 car off the back of those experiences. His subsequent role testing, and the feedback he’ll provide in support of our 2019 campaign, will no doubt further contribute to Haas F1 team’s growth and development in Formula 1.”
“I’m extremely appreciative to have secured a role with Haas F1 Team as their test driver,” Fittipaldi said.
“I’d like to thank Gene Haas and Guenther Steiner for the opportunity to join the team. They’ve done an incredible job in Formula 1 and to ask me to play a role in their continued success is naturally very exciting.
“I’m looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the VF-18 in Abu Dhabi. I’ll carry that experience forward into 2019, and hopefully into a race seat in Formula 1i in the future.”
The move partially answers calls for Haas to put an American driver in its car, although the Miami-born Fittipaldi races under the Brazilian flag.
He started his car racing career in the states, competing in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series in 2011 and 2012 before moving to Europe to start his single seater career.
There, Fittipaldi rose up through the ranks, competing in British Formula 4, Formula Renault, and Formula 3, before taking the 2017 Formula 3.5 title with six wins and a series-record 10 pole positions.
He spent 2018 competing in IndyCar and the Japanese Super Formula, though the Spa crash in May forced him to sit out for two months, limiting his outings.
From six IndyCar starts, he four points finishes including a season best of ninth in Portland.