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Apr 11, 2022

Fittipaldi thinks VW entering F1 is fantastic

F1 legend and two-time world champion, Emerson Fittipaldi, gave his view on F1 returning to Las Vegas, auto giant Volkswagen potentially entering the sport and the future of Brazilian drivers.

Formula 1 has announced its return to Las Vegas next year. What do you expect from the race returning to Las Vegas?

“The history of Las Vegas and Formula 1 has never been good in the past. Because they only made F1 in parking lots before. It was like a semi-permanent track. Actually, it was on a parking lot from Caesar’s, from the Caesar (Palace) hotel.”

“But now, it’s going to be a hundred per cent different. Because all around Las Vegas, on the streets. It’s incredible. There’s a big circuit all around the big hotels. It is a fantastic layout. I’m sure Las Vegas will stop for the Grand Prix. For America to have Miami, Las Vegas, and Austin it’s going to be incredible and they are going to reach a new public, a new young generation.”

“We have been talking since 1984 to have an F1 Miami Grand Prix. Since 1984 and now it materialised in 2022, can you imagine the expectation? I was with the mayor of Miami in Jeddah. He was there, he was invited to watch the race, and he’s so enthusiastic. Because there were a lot of people against having the Grand Prix in Miami. But anyway, there’s so much motivation now for the Miami Grand Prix. He was so happy, the mayor of Miami.”

There's a lot of debate about the technological advancement of cars, saying that it made driving easier and that in the past, it was much more difficult and had much more pilot techniques. Do you agree with this kind of statement?

“The challenge these young drivers have now is to have all the precision numbers the telemetry gives to them. Because in my time the telemetry was the information between the driver and the team, the chief design and the chief engineer.”

“Now, it’s all numbers. Numbers don’t lie. Numbers are numbers. Two plus two is four, it’s not three. And these kids, for these young generations to be on the limits, and to get every corner, every brake, every changing gear, every turn perfect in one lap is difficult, but it can be reached. And then they go back to the track and have to improve.”

“You know, it’s a challenge to get to the limit. The limit of the limit. Because it’s so precise now. Now it’s numbers in the telemetry. And it’s a challenge for these kids to be at that level of limit, so precise. When the engineer said I just have to break three metres deep to me it was a joke. To my generation. How can I understand that?”

“The precision they have now is incredible. The art of driving now is to get the numbers to the precision to have what I call a 110% lap on every centimetre of the track. Because everything is measured now. And the mind of the driver now has to be so much more precise than in my time to have an optimal lap. Very difficult.”

Volkswagen has given the green light for Audi and Porsche to enter F1 and both of the auto giants look very interested. How does this bode for F1’s future, in your opinion?

“I think it’s one of the best pieces of news this year for Formula 1.” 

“Because when you get a factory or a group like Volkswagen to get into F1, it would be fantastic news. Because I am sure they will bring big challenges with them. They will commit very seriously to being successful. They invest a lot of money, they’ll need new people. I think this is very good news for F1, for the public, and for the racing fans.”

“I hope they come as soon as possible, Formula 1 needs more competitive teams.”

Do you think they are going to buy a team like McLaren or partner up with them? 

“I don’t know, it’s difficult to answer, but they have the potential to start from zero. They don’t need to get a team.”

“Theoretically, they have the financial resources and technology to start a brand new team if they want. That’s very good news. F1 is having so much good news, it’s incredible.”

Brazil has a huge history in F1, where you were the great pioneer. There hasn’t been a Brazilian representative for a long time.  What do you think it takes to have someone on the grid again for a full season?

“There is a group of people in Denmark helping young kids to be there. And in Brazil, we have lacked that for many, many years, because when the kids start racing karting, people don’t care so much. That’s the root of racing. And then from the kart you have to go to a small formula, then potentially to Formula 3, and then Formula 2, and then Formula 1.”

“But we don't have a system where the roots are established. With good support for private investors or for companies. Now Brazil is having Formula 4 for the first time in Brazil. There are a lot of young talents racing all over the world. Brazilians racing in America, Canada, and Mexico, even Europe.”

“But, most of them leave Brazil during their karting days and come to Europe or the States to try to succeed, and we know it’s a very difficult road to find support, financial support, technology, and good people around you. The new president of the Brazilian Confederation, Giovanni Guerra, is investing a lot in the new generation in Brazil. The young generation of carting and Formula 4 and that’s what we need for the future, for sure.”

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Photo by Moritz Graf

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