Fittipaldi’s IndyCar adaptation “fantastic” says Coyne engineer

Race engineer for the #19 Dale Coyne Racing entry, Michael Cannon, says Pietro Fittipaldi is adapting to the demands of IndyCar “like a true professional,” mid-way through just his second day of testing.

Fittipaldi’s IndyCar adaptation “fantastic” says Coyne engineer
Pietro Fittipaldi, Trident
Michael Cannon, Dale Coyne Racing
Pietro Fittipaldi, Jaguar Racing
Zachary Claman DeMelo
Zachary Claman DeMelo, Juncos Racing
Zachary Claman DeMelo, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Fittipaldi and fulltime Coyne driver, Sebastien Bourdais, are among the 12 drivers testing at Sonoma Raceway today, ahead of Spring Training at Phoenix’s ISM Raceway later in the week.

Coyne is expected to announce before or at Phoenix this week that the #19 car will be shared by reigning World Series Formula 3.5 V8 champion Fittipaldi and Indy Lights graduate Zachary Claman de Melo.

Although Cannon is impressed with both his probable drivers, he gives extra kudos to Fittipaldi for tuning himself into IndyCar, after just a day-and-a-half of testing.

“He’s fantastic, a really pleasant surprise at Sebring,” Cannon told Motorsport.com. “We only knew what he’d done, not how he’d be. But within two sessions there, he was pretty much up to speed.

“This place [Sonoma] is more of a challenge, but he’s acquitting himself pretty well already on his second set of tires.

“He’s very, very level-headed, very serious and very focused – a truly professional racecar driver.”

Comparing Fittipaldi to Claman de Melo, Cannon said: “They’re chalk and cheese in a lot of ways. Zachary is a very natural talent, but very much learning his craft, coming up from Lights. But he did an excellent job at Sebring too, didn’t put a wheel wrong.

“So yeah, they have two different approaches but Zachary will gradually move in the same direction as Pietro as the season goes on.”

Regarding the potential disruption of running different drivers, Cannon shrugged it off, saying: “I’m fine if it’s going to be these two drivers. I’m really impressed with both of them.

“Tooth-and-nail for rookies”

Although many drivers and team managers have hinted that this is the best year for rookies to join, when everyone is having to learn the revised behavior of the cars equipped with Dallara’s universal aerokit, Cannon says rookies are going to suffer more.

“It’s going to be really tooth-and-nail for the rookies, I really don’t envy them,” he said. “There are so many experienced pros out there and their knowledge base of how an IndyCar and the Firestone tires behave is just enormous.

“That’s hard to compete with for a rookie, who’s still going to need to read the track, read the tires, read the handling and know when something’s out to lunch. There are guys who are perfect out there – someone like Scott Dixon – and it takes a while to get to that level, whoever you are, when you don’t have a touchtone, a baseline to work from.”

Cannon acknowledged that the fewer permutations of aero configurations would help rookies – and race engineers.

“It’s a lot nicer to run this car!” he said. “We’re spending a lot less time scratching our heads and poring over the aero calculator. Much more about driver feel and feedback and finding mechanical grip.”

shares
comments
Vasser returns to IndyCar with Coyne partnership
Previous article

Vasser returns to IndyCar with Coyne partnership

Next article

Kanaan: “This is how we wanted IndyCar to be – now we must find grip!”

Kanaan: “This is how we wanted IndyCar to be – now we must find grip!”
Load comments
Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021 Prime

Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021

In an enthralling 2021 IndyCar campaign, the series bounced back from its COVID-19 truncated year prior and series sophomore Alex Palou defeated both the established order and his fellow young guns to clinch a maiden title. It capped a remarkable season with plenty of standout performers

IndyCar
Nov 22, 2021
How Marcus Ericsson finally unlocked his potential in IndyCar Prime

How Marcus Ericsson finally unlocked his potential in IndyCar

Marcus Ericsson enjoyed a breakout year in the IndyCar Series in 2021, winning twice and finishing sixth in points with Chip Ganassi Racing. How did he finally unlock the potential that was masked by five years of toil in Formula 1 with Caterham and Sauber/Alfa Romeo?

IndyCar
Nov 16, 2021
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win Prime

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win

Saturday, Oct. 16th, marks the 10th anniversary Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500.

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Prime

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Jack Harvey’s move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate, but their combined strength could prove golden, says David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 15, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Prime

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong résumé and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star Prime

2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star

Alex Palou has captured Chip Ganassi Racing's 14th IndyCar drivers' championship, and in truly stellar manner. David Malsher-Lopez explains what made the Palou-Ganassi combo so potent so soon.

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Prime

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021
IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch Prime

IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch

The 2021 IndyCar silly season is one of the silliest of all, but it’s satisfying to see so many talented drivers in play – including Callum Ilott. David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Sep 11, 2021