Teenager Enzo dreams of returning Fittipaldi name to F1

Enzo Fittipaldi and Fernando Alonso Saturday at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Photo: Getty Images
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SAO PAULO — Almost five decades after Emerson Fittipaldi opened the way for Brazilian drivers in Formula One, his 17-year-old grandson Enzo is keen to carry on the famous name in the series.

The Fittipaldi family has a lot of history in F1: Emerson won 14 races and world titles in 1972 and 1974. His brother Wilson competed in the 1970s in a car crafted by the Fittipaldi family. Wilson’s son, Christian, took part in 40 races in the 1990s.

It could soon be Enzo’s turn, after he became the only driver of Ferrari’s academy to win a title this year, with eight wins and 14 pole positions in Italy’s Formula 4.

The teenager hopes to move to Formula 3 next season, eyeing a possible move to Formula One within years.

The young Fittipaldi wants to follow another Ferrari academy driver, 21-year-old Charles Leclerc, who will race for the Italian team next year.

“I am making the best out of the academy now; we are going step by step,” Enzo told The Associated Press in the Interlagos paddock on Saturday before the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Enzo started in go-karts at age four with grandfather Emerson in attendance.

“I never forgot that day,” an emotional 71-year-old Fittipaldi said. “He looked at me as he drove, went straight and crashed. I went there to say, `You need to make the turn, Enzo!”‘

Now granddad feels his advice is not so useful anymore.

“Drivers like him start early, they have all the electronics. Even in go-karts they have telemetries now. In my days it was all about mechanics,” Emerson said.

Enzo hopes one day he will be able to race his 22-year-old brother Pietro, who was named on Friday as Haas’ test driver for the 2019 season. The two are expected to share an apartment in Maranello, Ferrari’s base.

“We already race each other in simulators every now and then,” Pietro said. “Racing for real would be a dream.”

Emerson believes there’s a good chance his grandchildren will meet in F1 races.

“I raced my brother Wilson for three years. Michael Schumacher raced against Ralf, too. It surely could happen to Enzo and Pietro,” he said.

Asked what he will do if the two fight for a position in a race, Emerson spoke as a grandfather rather than a racing great.

“I will close my eyes for sure.”

Supercross: Husqvarna’s Jalek Swoll and Malcolm Stewart out with injury

Swoll Stewart injury
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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Jalek Swoll and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna teammate Malcolm Stewart sustained injury in separate crashes late last week. Stewart missed Anaheim 2 and Swoll will not mount up for the 250 East season opener in Houston on February 4.

“Spent all of yesterday in the ER and today getting surgery so haven’t been able to make an update post,” Swoll posted on Instagram. “Spiral fractured my humorous yesterday and was lucky enough to get into surgery today. Absolutely heartbroken that I couldn’t show all the hard work me, [Mike Brown], [Aldon Baker], and [Joel Perez] were working on truly felt like this year was going to a big one with massive improvements we made but I guess it just wasn’t my time.”

The team announced on Instagram that Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken bone in his arm, sustained in a practice crash on Friday. After missing the division opener, no further timeline has been given for his return.

Swoll made eight starts in the 250 West division last season with a best finish of fifth. In 2021, he scored his first SuperMotocross win in the outdoor Pro Motocross season at High Point Raceway in Mount Morris, Pennsylvania.

Stewart missed Anaheim 2 due to a practice injury. Likewise, the team did not announce a timetable for Stewart’s return.

He showed a lot of speed in the first two rounds before accidents eliminated him from contention in both rounds. He finished 16th at Anaheim 1 and 15th in San Diego, putting him in a points’ deficit that was already going to be difficult to overcome.

Stewart entered the 2023 season with a ton of confidence and believed all he needed was to stack his chips the right way to get this year’s championship.

Husqvarna is now represented by RJ Hampshire in the 250 West division and Christian Craig in 450s.

Hampshire had a rough weekend in Anaheim 2 and finished 11th in the overall standings after scoring a last place result in Race 2 with a bike sidelined by crash damage and a 13th in Race 3 after another fall.

Craig has not yet scored a top-10 on his 450 with a best of 11th at San Diego and Anaheim 2.

The news of these two injuries comes on the heels of the Pro Circuit Kawasaki team losing three of their four 250 riders.

Last week, Pro Circuit Kawasaki announced Seth Hammaker would miss the season opener with a wrist injury. Almost immediately, it was announced Jo Shimoda would also miss the 250 East opener with a shoulder injury.

Chris Blose will serve as a replacement rider in the 250 East division with Carson Mumford scheduled to replace the injured Austin Forkner in the West.