Enzo Fittipaldi and Fernando Alonso Saturday at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Photo: Getty Images

Teenager Enzo dreams of returning Fittipaldi name to F1

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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.”

View from the pits: Reporters’ picks for the 103rd Indianapolis 500

INDYCAR / Jason Porter
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It’s Race Day in Indianapolis, and for the first time, the Indianapolis 500 will be on NBC.

Time will tell what impact Mother Nature has on today’s 103rd Running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. But no matter what, prerace coverage begins today on NBCSN at 9 a.m. ET, then transitions over to NBC at 11 a.m. ET.

All month long, the INDYCAR on NBC pit reporters have been bringing you the latest breaking news and stories for the Brickyard. Now, Kevin Lee, Kelli Stavast and Marty Snider share their insights from pit road. Read on …

KEVIN LEE

Throughout the last two weeks, one common theme has been, “Don’t crash.” There were five crashes, and four of those teams/drivers ended up in the Last Row Shootout. Two of the three bumped (Patricio O’Ward and Fernando Alonso) were in backup cars following heavy impacts.

Several drivers have consistently been among the strongest. Simon Pagenaud (pictured, left) not only starts on pole but has been strong in race trim as well. All three Ed Carpenter Racing cars are fast and appear good in traffic. Alexander Rossi looks like he can put his car wherever he wants, and Scott Dixon has five championships and 44 IndyCar wins, so he must be watched.

In order, my picks for most likely to drink the milk are Pagenaud, Rossi, Ed Carpenter, Will Power and Dixon.

KELLI STAVAST

A week ago, no one could have predicted that two-time world champion Fernando Alonso and McLaren Racing would be bumped from the Indy 500 by a single-car, part-time effort of Juncos Racing and its driver, Kyle Kaiser (pictured, right).  But it happened, and Kaiser now occupies the 33rd and final spot in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

So what next?  I spoke with Kyle five days after the dramatic qualifying effort, and he told me he has never been happier to finish last and that he is still “buzzing” from that experience—an energy he hopes to carry straight through to the race.  He also told me that the response from fans has been positive with people stopping him in public (including at Chipotle) to hug him and congratulate him on making the Big Show.

But reality might have set in for the Californian who now lives in Indy.  During Carb Day’s final practice, the team struggled to get a good handling car for Kyle, who described the day as “challenging.”  But Kaiser also acknowledged that the team made some progress throughout the practice and at the very least collected some data that might help for the 500-miler on Sunday.

Whether he finishes 1st or 31st on Sunday, Kyle Kaiser and Juncos Racing will have plenty of fond memories to carry with them from the 103rd Indy 500.

MARTY SNIDER

First, we cannot wait to bring you guys the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500. It’s an honor for our entire group to broadcast such an amazing event.

So what do we expect? I have no idea, to be honest. The weather will be a huge factor today. It might be a race to halfway if rain is forecast.  If it’s cooler (mid 70’s ambient, which it looks like it’s going to be), Alexander Rossi (pictured, left) was unstoppable in those conditions last Monday.

But Rossi was very unhappy with his car on Carb Day. For that matter, most teams were. But Rob Edwards of Andretti Autosport explained a few things to Rossi about all of the experimenting they were doing in final practice, and I think that team is in a much better frame of mind heading into the race.

I find it interesting that Simon Pagenaud’s team scuffed in literally every set of tires they will use for today’s race. The No. 22 camp is convinced (and they’re not wrong) that one of the keys to Will Power’s 2018 win was his ability to gain time on out laps after pit stops. Scuffing in tires helps that out lap time. It also allows teams to do a balance check on tires. Good thing they did: Kyle Moyer of Team Penske found two sets that had vibrations, which would have been bad in the race.

Bottom line, I haven’t seen anyone really stand out and show me they can beat Alexander Rossi yet. So I’m going with Rossi to win his second Indy 500.

Enjoy the show friends. It’s going to be a fantastic race!