DragonSpeed team principal Elton Julian says they will not return to LMP1 competition with a BR Engineering BR1 prototype until the full cause of the accident that’s left Pietro Fittipaldi in the hospital has been determined.
The 21-year-old Brazilian sustained multiple leg fractures after his Gibson-powered BR1 had an apparent electrical glitch and went straight into the barriers at Eau Rouge in qualifying for the FIA World Endurance Championship season-opening Total Six Hours of Spa.
Fittipaldi, the grandson of two-time Formula One world champion Emerson, was airlifted to a hospital in Liege, where he underwent successful surgery to repair a compound fracture to his left leg and a broken right ankle.
The impact, which destroyed the Dallara-built prototype, has forced the American team to re-evaluate the next steps for its LMP1 program.
“For now it’s parked until we know what happened,” Julian told Sportscar365. “If they gave me a brand-new one tomorrow, I’d still need to know what happened.
“The next person that drives the car will be myself. I’m not putting my drivers into the car until I drive it and I clear it. I can’t have people getting hurt in my team; it’s never happened before.”
While not outright confirming power steering failure, triggered by the electrical glitch, Julian said they have “some clues” as to the root cause of the issue that sent Fittipaldi into the barriers.
It’s understood the team had been batting chronic electrical issues since taking delivery of the Russian-badged prototype in March.
“It’s obvious; It’s easy to see what happened. But why did it happen?” Julian said. “Until we understand why it happened, we won’t run a car.
“The car is not a DragonSpeed-built car. I bought it from a pretty big company.”
SMP Racing also faced electrical gremlins throughout the car’s debut race weekend, with the No. 17 BR1 AER of Stephane Sarrazin having stopped on track in qualifying with electrical failure.
Sarrazin’s co-driver Matevos Isaakyan, meanwhile, crashed out in the closing stages of the race, also at Eau Rouge, with the cause of his accident unclear.
Investigations Underway at BR, Dallara
BR Engineering, which has contracted Dallara for the build and design of the BR1, has begun investigations into both accidents, according to a company spokesperson.
“We want to double check everything before any conclusions are made,” the spokesperson told Sportscar365. “We will be looking thoroughly together with Dallara into both cases, especially the one of Pietro.”
Despite two destroyed cars, the representative said they will be ready for Le Mans, despite reports of no spare LMP1 tub currently being available.
Julian, meanwhile, is thankful Fittipaldi’s injuries were not worse, considering the location and severity of the impact.
“I’m just really happy Pietro will be OK,” he said. “We’ve all had broken bones and it was a big one and he was lucky. We’re all lucky as a community.”