Fittipaldi replaces Mazepin for Sakhir Test
Gene Haas has announced that Pietro Fittipaldi will drive for his team in this week’s Bahrain Test, but the squad is still considering other options for a full-time race seat. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the team terminated the contract of Nikita Mazepin and title sponsor Uralkali.
The Brazilian grandson of three-time champion Emerson has been the team’s reserve driver for several years and made his debut at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix following Romain Grosjean’s fiery crash the weekend before. However Haas has said Fittipaldi will be drafted in for the Bahrain test, he is mindful of the need for a potentially more experienced driver for the bulk of the new campaign.
Speaking to the Associated Press, Haas said the only decision that had been made right now was that Fittipaldi would be in for the test. He said “We’re in the process of looking at several candidates, we’ll see who is available and what we have to deal with, but we’ll have somebody by Wednesday. Pietro will definitely be in it, that’s what he’s for, he’s the test driver.”
The leading candidate to replace Mazepin full-time is Antonio Giovinazzi, who lost his place at Alfa Romeo at the end of last season and has switched to Formula E. The Italian was due to be the pool Ferrari-powered teams reserve driver for 2022 when he was not racing in FE.
Speaking about the decision to drop Mazepin and Uralkali, Haas said that the fallout of the team’s links with Russian partners was too much to accept. Saying, “There was a lot of intense criticism about the Ukrainian invasion and it was just getting overwhelming. We can’t deal with all that, our other sponsors can’t deal with all that.”
While there will be an impact on the team financially, Haas was adamant that the team has enough resources to weather the impact.
Leclerc describes porpoising like turbulence
Charles Leclerc has described the porpoising which drivers experienced during testing in Barcelona felt like turbulence on a flight, and made him feel “a little bit ill”. All the drivers experienced the effects along the main straight to a greater or lesser degree and a lot of focus centred on Leclerc after a video clip posted by F1 caught his Ferrari F1-75 suffering extreme levels of porpoising.
However, teams were able to dial it out with ride-height and aero adjustments but it is expected to be a regular feature this year, at least in the early races, while engineers learn how to control it. Leclerc told Motorsport.com, “It feels like turbulence on an aeroplane, going up and down the whole straight. I think one of the videos that F1 posted shows this phenomenon quite well, and I can’t say it feels nice. It makes you a little bit ill, but it’s okay.”
“It’s still very early days for this project. So it feels like it’s an issue that everyone has in the paddock more or less but yeah, in this paddock all the best engineers of the world are here so I’m pretty sure that we’ll find a solution.”
The feeling from those watching in Barcelona, as well as comments by rival drivers, was that Ferrari was the most competitive package overall. But Leclerc has stuck to the cautious line put out by the Italian manufacturer, who says that it is impossible to know where Ferrari compare to other teams.
The Monacan added, “We’ve done many laps, no major issues which is always great considering it’s a completely new project. So this is good. We’ve tested a lot of new things. Then in terms of performance, it’s impossible to know where we are compared to the others, it’s still very early days, everyone is hiding a little bit their performance.”
Leclerc says he believes that the true performance will not be known until qualifying. He says his aim every year is to push the bar higher, and he felt good in the car in Barcelona.
Regarding the atmosphere in the Maranello camp, he said: “We are quite happy that things have gone smoothly. On the other hand, I think we are working harder than ever to just try and keep our heads down”
“normal” to investigate own power unit – Crack
Aston Martin team principal Mike Crack says it is “normal” for the manufacturer to investigate the possibility of creating its own power unit for 2026. The British manufacturer is currently committed to using Mercedes power until the new engine regulations come in 2026.
Red Bull, which has in the last year created its own powertrain division intending to build a new engine and have control over its own destiny. Krack, who started work at the Silverstone team last week, said Aston would consider following a similar route.
He told Motorsport.com, “First of all I have to say we are happy with the engine partner that we’re having. But we have a new set of regulations coming for 2026. With more emphasis, obviously, on electric power than today.
“I think it’s normal for brands like Aston Martin that if there are new power unit regulations that you have a look into them, that you carefully investigate if this is strategically the right thing.”
“I think it is the right step that F1 is taking, to have a higher hybrid bias, or higher bias over electric power. I’ve been involved with BMW in both. Formula E is full electric, with the Hypercar it was hybrid, similar to F1, although not the same, I have to say.”
Krack admitted that a decision on creating its own power unit would be need to be made soon, because Aston Martin’s potential rivals are also looking at an entry, making it a reasonable timeline.
Krack explained that the team has everything it needs in order to become a title contender in the future. he added, “The infrastructure change that is happening here is tremendous, it’s the first new F1 headquarters being built, I think, in 19 years, something like that.”
“We will be state of the art, which clearly shows the ambition that Lawrence [Stroll] and the team is having.”
Albon “exceeded expectations” at Williams
Williams CEO Jost Capito says that Alex Albon has “exceeded expectations” in his first few weeks working with the team. The British-Thai driver was dropped by Red Bull at the end of 2020 and spent last year racing in DTM.
This year Albon makes his F1 comeback with Williams, which drafted him in to replace the Mercedes-bound George Russell. During F1’s first of two pre-season tests in Barcelona, Albon appeared to hit the ground running as he got acclimated to the Williams, reporting the team “has a good foundation” for the rest of the season.
Asked by Motorsport.com, about Albon’s first weeks working with the Grove outfit, Capito said he was delighted with twenty-five-year-old’s integration into the team. Capito said, “I’m very impressed, he is very good on the information he gives on evaluating the car. He is quite calm. He has a very good feeling for the car. He worked well with the engineers and with the overall team.”
“I think is the right balance between nice guy and when he is in the car, he understands it. He’s pushing and he is a fighter. I expected him to be really good within the team, but he exceeded my expectations.”
Albon said he has enjoyed building relationships with his new teammates during their first months of working together, and believes Williams has the “recipe for a great future”.
Adding “There’s a great buzz in the team. I like this team a lot. Obviously, we’ve had a short relationship, but the guys are great and very motivated to do well, which is important.”