Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean has announced that he will be missing the 2020 finale in Abu Dhabi to focus on his recovery, following the massive crash during last week's Bahrain Grand Prix. The driver has decided to return home to Switzerland to continue the medical treatment for burns on his hands after his F1 car burst into a fireball upon crashing with the barriers last week. Haas' reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi was called upon to step in for Grosjean during this weekend's Sakhir Grand Prix, and the driver will take the wheel at Yas Marina as well, alongside teammate Kevin Magnussen.
Grosjean was keen to get back in the car for the final race of the season, which he saw as a fitting end to his career at Haas, and by a certain extension in Formula 1. However, he was also clear that he will not be risking the drive at the cost of his long-term health.
Announcing his decision, Grosjean said, "It is with great sadness that I will not be able to do my final race in Abu Dhabi and be with the team there. We've tried as much as we could with the doctor to recover and to repair my hand, but the risk of racing is too big for my recovery and my health. So, the decision was made that I'm not going to race. It's one of the hardest decisions of my life, but it's obviously one of the wisest. I will miss the team, but I will be supporting them as ever."
Speaking on Grosjean's premature exit, Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner said, "I'm naturally very sorry that Romain will miss what was going to be his final race with Haas F1 Team. But we are all in agreement that he has to take the best course of action regarding his treatment and recovery from last Sunday's incident. Romain has shown exceptional bravery and amazing spirit over the last few days - we know how badly he wanted to be able to return to the cockpit of the VF-20 in Abu Dhabi. And we all would have loved him to have been there too."
Grosjean began his F1 career in 2008 as a test driver for Renault and debuted with the team in 2009. He moved to Lotus in 2012, before bagging the seat at Haas F1 in 2016. He has been with the American outfit since the beginning of their project. Earlier this year, Haas confirmed that it will be replacing both its drivers - Grosjean and Magnussen - for a new and rookie line-up. F2 drivers Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin were confirmed last week as the replacements. The Bahrain GP was Grosjean's 98th start for Haas. Steiner praised Grosjean's work with the Frenchman having scored their first points on debut and been a key part in their development.
He said, "Romain believed in our Formula 1 project at the very start, he committed to drive for us before we'd even built a car," he added. "There is no doubting the determination and sheer effort he has put into helping us to achieve what we have as a young team in Formula 1. We will forever be grateful for that belief and commitment. It is those qualities, his drive and ambition, that I'm sure will aid him on his recovery. On behalf of Gene Haas and myself, together with the whole Haas F1 Team operation, we wish Romain well and a return to full health."
Earlier this week, Grosjean had said that he would reach out to teams to see if they would conduct a private test over the winter break to ensure his accident wasn't his last drive in an F1 car. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was vocal that they were willing to facilitate such an initiative for the driver if needed. With Grosjean's absence at Abu Dhabi now confirmed, we do hope to see Grosjean getting his final run in an F1 car.