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Formula 1

Grosjean to miss Sakhir GP, Haas calls up Fittipaldi

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
3 min read

Pietro Fittipaldi will make his Formula 1 debut in the Sakhir Grand Prix deputising for Romain Grosjean at Haas.

Grosjean is expected to remain in hospital in Bahrain until Tuesday after surviving a huge crash in the Bahrain Grand Prix when his car pierced a barrier, split in two and was engulfed in flames.

He was transferred to hospital and has had treatment to burns to the back of both hands, which Haas said in an update on Monday morning was going well, and Grosjean is expected to be discharged on Tuesday.

Grosjean’s physical wellbeing will be assessed further in the coming days and Haas had indicated it would be his decision whether he returned to drive for the final two races.

However, it has also been decided that Grosjean will at least miss the second part of the Bahrain double-header, and 2017 Formula V8 3.5 champion Fittipaldi will replace him.

Pietro Fittipaldi

Fittipaldi, the grandson of two-time F1 champion Emerson, is Haas’s test and reserve driver and has completed seven days of testing for Haas over the last two years.

“After it was decided that the best thing for Romain was to skip at least one race, the choice to put Pietro in the car was pretty easy,” said team boss Guenther Steiner.

“Pietro will drive the VF-20 and he’s familiar with us having been around the team for the past two seasons as a test and reserve driver.

Motor Racing Formula One Testing Abu Dhabi, Uae

“It’s the right thing to do and it’s obviously a good opportunity for him.

“He’s been patient and was always prepared for this opportunity – and now it has come. That’s why we want him in the car and I’m sure he’ll do a good job.

“It’s very demanding being called in at the last minute, but as I said, I think it’s the right thing to do for Haas F1 team.”

Fittipaldi, 24, has not had a full racing programme this year. He finished fifth in the Asian F3 winter series across 2019 and 2020 – which was enough to make him eligible for a superlicence – having raced in the DTM in 2019.

Pietro Fittipaldi wins Formula V8 2017

His last single-seater season was his title-winning FV3.5 campaign in 2017 (pictured above), though he has appeared in IndyCar and Super Formula since then.

“Most importantly I’m happy Romain is safe and healthy,” said Fittipaldi.

Nov 30 : Bahrain Grand Prix review

“We’re all very happy his injuries are relatively minor after such a huge incident.

“Obviously, it’s not an ideal set of circumstances to get my first opportunity to compete in Formula 1, but I’m extremely grateful to Gene Haas and Guenther Steiner for their faith in putting me behind the wheel this weekend.

Pietro Fittipaldi

“I’ve been with the team a lot this season, both trackside and working on simulator sessions, so I’m familiar with the team’s operating procedures on a grand prix weekend.

“It’s going to be exciting to make my first career start in Formula 1 – I’ll be giving it my all and I look forward to starting in free practice on Friday in Bahrain.”

Pietro will be the fourth Fittipaldi to race in Formula 1.

Emerson Fittipaldi 1972

Emerson (pictured above) was the first, winning two world championships and 14 races from 1970-1980, while brother Wilson started 35 races from 1972-1975 driving for Brabham and his own Fittipaldi team and took a best finish of fifth in the 1973 German Grand Prix.

Christian Fittipaldi, Wilson’s son, raced in F1 for Minardi and Arrows from 1992-1994, taking three fourth places.

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