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Fittipaldi brothers share memorable IndyCar test day at Sebring

There isn’t much the Fittipaldi name hasn’t experienced in motorsports, but it received something new on Tuesday.

Pietro Fittipaldi, Enzo Fittipaldi

Brothers Pietro and Enzo Fittipaldi shared the track for the very first time throttling Indy cars around the 1.7-mile short course at Sebring International Raceway.

Pietro, 27, who will drive Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s #30 Honda for the 2024 season in the IndyCar Series, managed to push out over 115 laps. Although he hadn’t driven an Indy car since the 2021 Indianapolis 500, it wasn’t a difficult adjustment.

“The steering is very heavy and that's something that always shocks you initially, but then you get used to it,” Pietro told Motorsport.com “The cars are just a beast to drive.

“You got to like to hustle the car with the pedals, with the wheel. It's the type of driving I enjoy, to be honest. And my brother does, too."

Throughout the day, though, he couldn’t help but look over and see his younger brother Enzo on the timing standing for Dale Coyne Racing, the same team he made his IndyCar debut with in 2018.

“I saw him over there,” Pietro said. “He likes putting the car sideways. He did an amazing job with Dale Coyne.

“I'm just super happy. It was the first time we shared a track together with the same car and everything. We've never done that in our lives, not even karting. That's why it was a super special day for both me and him. ...

“It's one of those things, you never know when it'll happen again; to be on the track with your brother at the same time, the same car and everything. It was a very special occasion for both Fittipaldi brothers to be on track together and pushing each other to the limit.

“Obviously, I'm always speaking to him after the runs and stuff and it's like, 'Oh, how's it going? How's the car feeling?' Without giving me too much information or me giving him too much information because it's two different teams.

“But you know, you always try to get a little bit out of your brother and him pushing the limits on track and me as well. I would say we performed very well and very, very equally when we were on track with similar run plans and stuff.”

 

Enzo, 22, pounded the pavement for over 100 laps in an outing that also marked the first time he ever driven an Indy car.

The test came in the midst of a respectable season in Formula 2, where he has one win and four podiums while sitting seventh in the championship with one round remaining in Abu Dhabi.

“Yeah, it was a great,” Enzo told Motorsport.com. “I started the day with just feeling how the car is, but I think I got up to speed very quickly. It was a great time driving the #18 car for Dale Coyne Racing.

"We had a very busy day, a lot of runs. We did many long runs. We had five sets of tires to use. It was my first day in an Indy car, and I can say it was a success and I had a really good time. The speed was there right away. So yeah, I was very happy about that.”

One of the more unique differences Enzo found was how the Indy cars Firestone tires behaved compared to the Pirellis on his F2 challenger.

“The way you build the tire energy, the warmup procedures are completely different,” Enzo said.

“With IndyCar, it's just flat-out right out of the box really. No rules whatsoever. In Formula 2, you can easily damage a tire as soon as you over slip You have to be super delicate in the warmup and basically only warm up the tires with the brakes in Formula 2. In IndyCar, it's the opposite. I mean, you do everything in IndyCar that you're not supposed to do in Formula 2 in terms of a tire procedure and everything.

“In terms of power-wise, I feel like it's quite similar to the Formula 2 car. I feel like the IndyCar is slightly more powerful on throttle, but then as soon as you're going through fourth, fifth, sixth, I feel like the F2 car maybe pulls a little bit more because of the DRS.

“Car feeling-wise, I just feel like the style is very different to an F2 car. You know, within the car you can slide a lot and extract the lap time, really extract it out of the tires, even though sliding around looks like a very messy lap, but still, it's good. In F2, you can't really slide too much. As soon as you slide with the rears, it's not great. So yeah, very different approach, very different styles.”

Pietro Fittipaldi, Enzo Fittipaldi

Photo by: Pietro Fittipaldi

Pietro Fittipaldi, Enzo Fittipaldi

Considering all of Pietro’s nine starts in North America’s premier open-wheel championship to this point happened for Dale Coyne, Enzo shared how the team owner compared the two.

“He said I'm a bit more aggressive and wilder compared to my brother,” said Enzo, the 2018 Italian F4 champion. “My brother's a bit smoother; those were Dale's words.”

The grandsons of two-time Formula champion, double Indy 500 winner and 1989 IndyCar champion Emerson Fittipaldi, also exchanged some on-track brotherly love.

“It was cool actually driving at the track and passing my brother as he's on cooldown lap and giving him a wave,” Enzo said.

“We had a great time. I did maybe flip him off a couple times, but that's all part of it now. We have a great relationship and just very happy to have been able to experience this day with him.”

 

Of course, that also had Pietro, also the test and reserve driver for Haas F1 Team, eager for a proper one-on-one contest.

“I was almost like tempted to tell the team like, 'Listen, let's do some race stints together and just put both cars out at the same time,” said Pietro, who has a career-best IndyCar finish of ninth (Portland, 2018).

“Obviously that doesn't make sense for our run plans and stuff, so that wasn't possible to do. But in my head, I think that would've been cool to race him. Just to see our different styles of driving as well. The way he gets lap time out of the car is very different than the way I get lap time out of the car. So, to finally be able to actually see it in real life and in the same car was something super interesting.”

Pietro pushed the thought even further, too.

“I was just imagining if we're actually racing together one day in the same series and I'm competing against him and imagine if it's different teams,” said Pietro, the 2017 Formula V8 3.5 champion.

“We've always been super close, both me and him, so it's weird if we would be racing for different teams because at a certain point you can't give too much information, but I don't know how it would be with him.”

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At one point after lunch, the two found themselves on track and trading identical quick laps.

“Yeah, so it was very, very competitive,” Enzo said. “We were super close. We're very competitive with each other.”

Although it was pure coincidence the test delivered a rare opportunity for the brothers, it is something that will be forever treasured.

“There was no other team there, it was just me and my brother,” Enzo said.

“It's going to be a day I'm going to remember for the rest of my life.”

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