While Dale Coyne Racing’s Pietro Fittipaldi continues to recover from leg fractures sustained in a May accident at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Formula 1 reserve driver Santino Ferrucci will make his Verizon IndyCar Series debut this weekend in place of the Brazilian rookie.
As the agreement was announced prior to Zachary Claman De Melo’s solid run in the Indianapolis 500, Ferrucci joins the fray and will be the third different driver to pilot the No. 19 Paysafe Honda for DCR this season.
Turning 20 years old today, Ferrucci has spent the last three years as a test driver for Haas F1. The past two seasons he has been a regular in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, though he has not placed any higher than 6th in an F2 race driving for Trident.
Despite those finishes, the Woodbury, Connecticut native feels prepared for the opportunity ahead of him this weekend.
“Coming from F2 into INDYCAR, I’d say my race craft is going to be OK,” Ferrucci said on May 18. “Racing in Europe is very hard, just as it is in INDYCAR. There’s a lot of experienced drivers in both fields, so the feeling I will hope to be the same.”
Ferrucci has not won a major open-wheel race since 2015 when he took victory at Manfeild: Circuit Chris Amon in New Zealand. That year he placed 3rd in the Toyota Racing Series championship behind current Williams F1 driver Lance Stroll and French prospect Brandon Maïsano.
While Ferrucci has been around the F1 scene for a few years now, he is still cautious with the power and lack of relative downforce he will face this weekend driving the Dallara IR-18 for Coyne.
“I think the biggest challenge will be the power jump because in talking with Pietro (Fittipaldi), he said it was a lot more powerful and obviously, the tire is a lot different going from a Pirelli to a Firestone,” Ferrucci notes.
“I think those will be some massive hurdles. Honestly, I just look forward to being on a street course. I have to bring my mouth guard to Detroit, as I’ve been told it’s very bumpy.”
At the moment, the American driver remains set that the overall goal is to end up in Formula 1. For now team owner Dale Coyne wouldn’t mind nudging the young talent to the Verizon IndyCar Series, even if it were just for a couple of years.
“The main thing is that he’s American,” Coyne stated at IMS earlier this month. “While he’s over there (in Europe) you can tell by his tone that he wants to be in Formula 1, this is a more realistic goal here. Formula 1 is a tough place to get into and stay there.
“I think he’ll enjoy this and maybe he’ll change his mind and become an INDYCAR driver before he becomes a Formula 1 driver.”
Whether it is temporary or not, it will be interesting to see how Ferrucci fares this weekend in his maiden INDYCAR voyage at a challenging street course.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to be able to race the No. 19 Paysafe car with Dale Coyne Racing at Detroit, especially that I’ll be coming off an F2 race in Monaco,” said Ferrucci. “The goal is still to be a Formula 1 driver but to be racing in INDYCAR is going to be something special. I’m really looking forward to it.
Keep an eye on this youngster and see how he stacks up against what has been a stellar rookie class thus far.
Image courtesy of Chris Jones/INDYCAR Media.