Ferrari have capacity to improve, says Fittipaldi

After an eventful Azerbaijan Grand Prix, we caught up with F1 legend Emerson Fittipaldi to get his reaction to the race weekend and how it leads up to the Montreal Grand Prix.

Ferrari had a nightmare in Baku - not only did both Charles LeClerc and Carlos Sainz retire but also other Ferrari engine cars like Haas (Kevin Magnussen) and Alfa Romeo (Zhou Ganyu) had a DNF due to engine issues. Do you think Ferrari will be able to work out the problems before Montreal?

“I watched practice, qualifier and race.”

“They have a problem for sure.”

“Technical problem on  the engines, I don't know if it’s the engines, the turbo, the electrical system but looks like by the smoke something breaks down in the engine.” 

“They had yesterday four engines off during the race.”

“There is no time. They have a very short time to try to solve the problem for Montreal.” 

“Again, the Ferrari was extremely fast and LeClerc did a very good job. They are the fastest car for sure but they have a problem.”

“And for the good of the sport I hope Ferrari have found the problem because this is the year they are extremely competitive.” 

“It’d be a shame if they don't find the problem because it's going to make the championship so exciting, having the Red Bulls fight in the Ferraris and vice versa.” 

“The capacity, the technology that Ferrari has for sure they will solve the problem but we don't know when. But they have the know how they have the people, they have the capacity, they have all the records, everything to solve the problem. The question is, when?” 

“I hope they've found a solution, difficult, but could be for Montreal.” 

“Montreal is always a very exciting Grand Prix because you have a lot of overtaking there.”

“There’s a lot of acceleration, braking power down and it needs extremely good braking and good traction, Montreal.” 

“It’ll be interesting to see.”

We again had a moment of controversy at Red Bull where Christian Horner had to interject on the team radio and say “no fighting” to Max and Checo. Do you think that was justified?

“Now Christian Horner for sure  was worried when he said ‘no fighting’ and the reason why he said ‘no fighting’ because you know I'm very happy Checo Perez is performing so fast and so well. He has adapted to the team, adapted to the car, adapted to the engineers. His performance is really fast.” 

“And I was surprised on what happened in the race yesterday, but suddenly he lost a lot of speed compared to Max but the interesting you know it's very interesting for the racing fans to see Checo challenge Verstappen.” 

"It's happened this year in a few Grands Prix and it is going to happen the next few Grands Prix.” 

“It's very interesting, I think that's part of the show part of the competition in Formula 1 and I'm very happy that Checo is confident, driving fast, is doing well and from now on you only can improve and it’ll be great to see.” 

“And for sure Christian and the Red Bull team get worried when the two guys are running together trying to pass each other, trying to compete against each other. You know anything can happen at that time.”

Lewis Hamilton complained of back issues after the race and Toto Wolff has remarked that Hamilton might miss the Montreal Grand Prix. Do you think Hamilton will miss the GP? Any way you see Mercedes solving this porpoising issue that has been plaguing them all season?

“Now if you look what's happened to the porpoising of the Mercedes and even the Ferrari.”

“In a Mercedes it is more evident. Every car has (porpoising) but the Mercedes is more evident - they have this from the beginning of the year. When you look the onboard camera with the helmets, can you imagine the neck and the back of the driver how much impact suffering, the whole track, how many laps how many hours they are under this severe porpoising and that's giving a shock to the back for sure.” 

“I'm sure Lewis is feeling a lot, the pain in his back and and it's very impressive when you look at the onboard camera how much he is moving up and down and how much you can see, the he frequency of the bumping of the driver is exactly opposite to the car. And then gives this you know shaking movement that for the body it's not easy but I think with modern medicine they can help Lewis to run again Friday in Montreal.” 

“I'm sure Mercedes are fighting this issue from the beginning of the season, still there it is.”

“Sometimes on some tracks it’s more because it depends a lot on the velocity ratio of the suspension but looks like most of the cars are just working the tires not even the suspension.” 

“The suspension works minimum, it’s nearly solid suspension, but it's a difficult technical problem to solve because that's when the car is stuck to the ground and then you lose the pressure and it starts going up and down up and down. Pressure no pressure, low pressure under the car because the the body under the car is generating a lot of downforce and this low pressure under the car and suddenly you lose the low pressure, the car goes up and then comes down.”

Another podium for George Russell. While he’s deservedly earning plaudits for his driving, are there any areas where you think he could improve?

“George Russell is doing really well. I think he has enough experience in Formula One now.”

“Coming from Williams, the Mercedes is much faster, better than the Williams anyway. 

“Then he's committed to do well, he is focused and to my surprise, is doing well. That's another challenge for Lewis, because it's what I call, the young lion is on board.”

Looking at what happened in Baku, do you think Red Bull are clear favourites for the Montreal GP?

“I think the Ferrari to me, is  favourite for Montreal. More than the Red Bulls, the Ferraris have been a bit faster than the Red Bull.” 

“But the Red Bulls are there, they're fast they're winning, they're leading the championship.”

“Great championship, fantastic championship.” 

“What I think about Montreal, a lot of hard braking. A lot of braking power down traction because you really don't have any fast corner in Montreal. A really fast corner doesn't exist.”

“So hard braking, rotating the car and exit on the corner.” 

“It is about how much you can brake late, how much you can rotate fast the car, how much power can apply to the rear tires to exit to the corners. That's the key in Montreal.” 

“It is a very special track if you look around there's not any fast corner except the S’es - one two, three and four.” 

“They are quite fast, the S’es and then that's the only segment in the track that's quite fast.”

“If you look at the record Montreal always has the rain factor. Very strong statistic always good chance of raining there that can change the whole the whole result.”

Frederik Vesti did very well in Formula 2 recently. Do you see him progressing to Formula 1 soon?

“Vesti did a very good job in Formula 2. He's doing well, he's progressing.” 

“I think for Denmark is good to have very good potential driver for Formula One. You know another driver with potential to go to Formula One.” 

“He had his first win, I think he's progressing, he's getting better now after the first when you get more confident.” 

And he raced against my grandson Enzo, who has been doing really well the last few days.”

“Formula 2 is great to watch. I watch every practice qualifying. I mean that you see a lot of young talent coming through there.” 

“And that's the road to Formula 1. Denmark has another potential Formula One driver ahead of the country.”

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Photo by Tim Carey