Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has said that Pietro Fittipaldi will be next in line for a Haas drive if Mick Schumacher is needed at Ferrari in 2022.
Following an impressive debut season with Haas in 2021, Schumacher was announced as the Scuderia’s reserve driver, alongside Antonio Giovinazzi, who departed Formula 1 at the end of last season and will race in Formula E this year.
Fittipaldi has already deputised for the American outfit once before when Romain Grosjean suffered a horrific accident in Bahrain and was hospitalised with severe burns and other injuries.
It was nothing short of a miracle that the Frenchman was even able to walk away from his fiery crash, but he was keen to take to the track for the final race of the year in 2020 before he left for IndyCar.
Unfortunately, his injuries prevented him from competing in the final couple of races of the season, meaning that Fittipaldi raced alongside Kevin Magnussen for the final two grand prix of the year in Sakhir and Abu Dhabi.
Fittipaldi is now Haas’ reserve for 2022 in case Schumacher or team-mate Nikita Mazepin are unable to contest a race.
This could arrive in the form of a Schumacher appearance for Ferrari next year, as the German will be stepping in should either Charles Leclerc or Carlos Sainz miss a grand prix.
Following the Brazilian’s efforts late on in 2020, Steiner would be more than happy to welcome him back to the Banbury-based outfit.
“I’m happy for Mick and I obviously spoke about it with Mattia [Binotto],” he said in an interview with RACER.
“What it means for us is that Pietro will be very happy! In the end, this is part of being a partner and part of what we agreed to do. Obviously if you have a good car and want an experienced driver, Pietro’s done a good job for us before.”
Steiner recognises that it is unlikely a race opportunity will present itself to the 25-year-old.
“I mean, the possibility that the reserve driver gets to drive the car, if you look at the statistics they are very, very slim. But if it happens, I’m good with that,” explained Steiner.
“We never have to forget what he did two years ago when we put him in the race car after Romain [Grosjean] — he did a fantastic job. “
Steiner acknowledges that Fittipaldi has been loyal to the Haas team before, and will look to repay this when he can.
“We can’t ask for more. We don’t need to make a big thing about who to get in — we have shown loyalty, he has shown loyalty, and that is how we work,” he added.
“We needed someone for the test in Abu Dhabi, we didn’t go out there and try to sell the test to somebody — we said Pietro is going to drive.
“He hung out there almost every weekend with us just to make sure we are covered if something happens, and therefore if something happens that is what we are doing.”
New regulations state that teams are to run rookies in practise sessions at least twice this year, meaning that Ferrari junior Robert Shwartzman will likely get a shot with either Haas or the Scuderia.
The Russian will not be competing in Formula 2 this season, and the 2019 Formula 3 champion has never contested an F1 race before, making him eligible for a rookie practise session.
“It will be a Ferrari driver or Pietro at the moment. I’m not trying to sell that seat. I guess it will be a Ferrari driver,” Steiner continued.
“We discussed it briefly, but these are things that Mattia and myself are pretty quick to agree on, we don’t need long meetings and stuff like this. This is what we do for each other as a partner, when we can help each other.”
Haas ended the 2021 Constructors’ Championship last, in a campaign that saw them become the first team to fail to score any points in a full season since Manor Marussia in 2015.