Haas’ test driver Pietro Fittipaldi says that him needing a pair of sunglasses during Tuesday’s test day in Barcelona resulted in him replacing Kevin Magnussen for the final 90 minutes.
Kevin Magnussen was on duty for Haas on Tuesday, taking part in what was his first full day with the new VF19. However, as we reported yesterday, a headrest issue meant that Kevin found it too uncomfortable to drive by mid-afternoon and, when the opportunity arose, Haas opted to replace him with Pietro Fittipaldi for the remainder of the session.
The 22 year old grandson of World Champion Emerson, Fittipaldi was at the track ahead of his scheduled test runs on Wednesday & Thursday. However, as he explained at the end of his Wednesday scheduled run, he got in the car early due to him needing a pair of sunglasses.
“[Driving the car on Tuesday] – I was really surprised. At around 4 o’clock, I was up at Turn 10 watching from over there and I was going to go up to Turn 1. The sun was directly in my eyes walking there so I stopped by the engineering room to get my sunglasses and, luckily I stopped, because one of the engineers just said “Are you ready to get in the car?” I said “Yeah, I’m all ready to get in tomorrow” and he was like “No you need to get in now”.
“I initially thought it was a joke and I had to wait for some other people to tell me seriously that they needed me in the car. I got dressed as quickly as I could and the team did a great job to change the seat and get a run in to shake me down first. It was great!”
While he only got in a handful of laps on Tuesday evening, he said that this proved helpful for his Wednesday morning outing where he put in 48 laps of Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, finishing P5 on the morning timesheets with a best time of 1:19.249 on the C4 tyres: “The run yesterday really helped, particularly with positioning of the seat and pedals. We had to make changes yesterday for them so that meant we didn’t have to this morning and we could start pushing straightaway without stopping.We got through the full run plan we wanted to for today, so very happy with that. It took me a run today to get back comfortable with the car so I’ll be ready for tomorrow. Not sure what the run plan is yet but probably looking at doing some race runs. Thankfully, I feel comfortable and confident in the car already.”
It was a pretty eventful 48 laps in total, as he suffered an on track stoppage that resulted in a brief red flag period and recovery truck that he explained as a precautionary stop: “There was an electrical problem so we stopped the car to be cautious and get the car back. We did and make a few changes and went back out so all good.”
He had briefly been close behind Valtteri Bottas for a few laps, looking as though he was lining up to cheekily race the Mercedes but says that it was a request from the team to stay close behind him: “It was good fun. He was on a fairly long run so we decided to stay behind him and see how it feels in the dirty air and how the balance changes. It was good to get that data and the feedback for the team.”