The grandson of two-time F1 champion Emerson Fittipaldi, Pietro Fittipaldi, will step in the pace of Romain Grosjean for next weekend's race at the outer circuit at Sakhir in Bahrain. This comes after Grosjean's horrific crash which was his Haas car smashed into two pieces and explode lighting up a huge fire after colliding with Daniil Kvyat and crashing into the guard-rail. Grosjean credited the addition of halo which was first introduced in 2018 for saving his life as the Frenchman survived the crash and was inside the vehicle for 20 seconds after it was on fire. Luckily, he has sustained no major injury apart from some burns on his hands and leg. Grosjean will be discharged from the hospital on Tuesday but since the next race is this weekend itself, he will not participate in it.
He gets replaced by the 24-year old Fittipaldi as Haas decided that it was best that Grosjean takes a weekend off as there is another race scheduled for the week after in Abu Dhabi.
“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,” stated team principal 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. It's the right thing to do and it's obviously a good opportunity for him,” said the Haas boss.
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,” Steiner added.
Fittipaldi joins at a time when he is not expected to be announced for an F1 seat with the team in 2021 with the likely option being Mick Schumacher paired up with Nikita Mazepin.
“Most importantly I'm happy Romain is safe and healthy,” said the 24-year-old. “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,” he added.
“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,” said Fittipaldi.
Both Haas drivers, Grosjean and Magnussen are scheduled to leave the team at the end of the season, presumably leaving F1 for good.