“I never expected Red Bull coming back so strong after Jeddah”, says Fittipaldi

After the inaugural Miami GP, Formula 1's next destination is Barcelona and we got in touch with two-time world champion Emerson Fittipaldi to comment on Red Bull's resurgence, Ferrari's response and more.

Ferrari leads the Championship with Leclerc since the first Grand Prix. Do you believe that Ferrari will be able to stay even before the RedBull reaction and win the Championship? 

“I think I had the wrong opinion previously. I have to accept that my vision was wrong. “

“I never expected Red Bull coming back so strong after Jeddah."

"But with new engine power, they are much more reliable than for the first few Grands Prix. I’m sure is the new car is working well within the new rules package, with both the aerodynamical and mechanical package and that's showing now.”

“It was a big surprise for me. I think it’s going to be a beautiful championship to watch for the racing fans globally. Seeing Ferrari fighting with Red Bull, Red Bull fighting Ferrari. Like it was last year with Mercedes, now it’s Ferrari.”

“I think that’s great for motor sports because Ferrari has fanatic fans all over the world. I have to respect Red Bull a lot, they have come back very strong.”      

The Miami GP was not ideal for McLaren with Lando Norris crashing out and Daniel Ricciardo finishing 13th. What improvements can we expect from McLaren in this European leg? You mentioned, that McLaren will improve in Europe. 

“Well, first going back to Miami. It was was a racing incident that caused Lando (Norris) not to finish around the points.”

“Now they go back to the continent where they have their factory. They have more time in Europe and they can make big modifications on the car. They can make big improvements.”

“I think McLaren already know what they have to do. They have more time to prepare the cars and I think McLaren is going to go much faster now.“

What do you think they have to do?

“They just have to do improvements. Work on the aerodynamical package and mechanical suspension. They know what to do. Zak Brown, told me in Jeddah that they have a five Grand Prix program. They are working hard.”

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“I’m convinced that they will be much stronger in Europe now than they were in the beginning of the year. McLaren is going to be very strong.”

Do you see McLaren challenging for the podium in the European races?

“For sure, for sure.”

“Lando was on the podium in Imola. I know the circumstance helped him, but he was there to exploit it. He was the guy there, to get the podium when everything happened on the race and I think in Europe they are going to be much stronger.”

Where do you think Ferrari needs to improve, now that Red Bull seems to have the better car? Max looked untouchable on the straights in Miami.

“Ferrari historically had very strong engines. To me the engine is strong. I think they are missing just how to keep the tires in better conditions throughout the race.“

“I think that’s more on handling. You know, both drivers are very fast, Charles (Leclerc) and Carlos (Sainz). They just need to be better on the balance.”

Do you think Lewis Hamilton has written off this season? Does it make more sense for Mercedes and Hamilton to work on the car for next season, a bit similar to how Ferrari focused their efforts to be competitive this season?

“It’s very difficult to answer from the outside. They know they have a problem. They know and they are working hard to solve the problem. They know that the Mercedes engine has to improve, that’s including McLaren, they need more power in the engine. I’m sure Mercedes is working on that, 24 hours 7 days a week, to improve the power of the engine.”

“And Mercedes know that handling is not as expected and it was showing a lot in the first Grands Prix.“

“The car is bumpy on the straight line, more than it should be. I’m sure they have a problem.”

“And similarly to McLaren going back to Europe now, them  home they will be able to work more on a new package on aerodynamics and mechanical package to improve the handling of the car.”

Do you think McLaren and Mercedes will be better coming back to Europe? 

“All these big teams always have a cycle. They sometimes lose performance, but they are the best to come back on the high performance.“

“I think they are the best to recover the performance cause they have the experience, they have the know-how and they have the quality of the team behind. And there’s mechanics  and they will be able to come back stronger.”

Lewis Hamilton called for F1 to increase more street races as it allows easier access for fans. What’s your opinion? Should we have more street races or purpose-made tracks are better overall, especially in terms of the quality of racing?

“I think he’s a hundred per cent correct. And I think in street circuits you bring the cars close to the public and the public close to the race. It’s more exciting for the city also.”

“Everyone in Miami was talking about the Grand Prix. When you have to leave the city to be  a part of the Grand Prix, sometimes when it’s away from town, you don’t have that feeling. I think Lewis is a hundred per cent correct. “

Charles LeClerc crashed Niki Lauda's 1974 car this weekend in Monaco. Do you think it was the right decision to make him drive?

“Apparently, he had a brake failure. “

“And these cars are extremely risky for mechanical failures.”

1974 was also the year you won the world championship and Lauda became No. 4. What do you think Mr Lauda would have said to LeClerc putting his car into the wall?

“I’m sure he would say: “Well, I am happy that the brake failure didn’t happen with me, it happened with Charles.” . I’m sure he would be very happy to see Charles driving. “

“I can imagine Charles sitting in Niki Lauda’s cockpit and it must have been incredible for him, for Charles.”

But him crashing an old car like that, and him having a history of crashing in Monaco. Do you think this is gonna influence his mind for the race next weekend?

“I hope not, but that’s why we talk about pressure. Whether or not he takes the pressure in a positive way."

"If he takes it the wrong way, then yes it can affect him negatively. But, I hope he takes the positive, because everybody in Monaco, every residence, every Ferrari fan, the whole world will be looking at Charles Leclerc.”

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Photo by Pablo Franco