Grosjean is being treated for burns to his hands in hospital and Haas expect him to be discharged on Tuesday; Frenchman to miss this weekend’s second race in Bahrain with reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi to make F1 debut in his place
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 30/11/20 11:11am
Brazilian driver Pietro Fittipaldi will race in place of the injured Romain Grosjean for Haas in this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix following the Frenchman’s fiery accident in Sunday’s race in Bahrain.
Grosjean is being treated for burns to his hands in hospital, although escaped more serious injury when his Haas car caught fire and split in two in a horrifying accident on the race’s opening lap.
Haas said on Monday the treatment was “going well” and expected the Frenchman to be discharged on Tuesday.
Team boss Guenther Steiner visited Grosjean on Monday and the team soon confirmed that Fittipaldi would step up to a race seat this weekend.
Fittipaldi is the 24-year-old grandson of two-time F1 world champion Emerson Fittipaldi and has served as Haas’ reserve driver this season. Sunday’s race will be his F1 debut.
“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 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. 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.”
One more race remains in the 2020 season beyond this weekend’s – the Abu Dhabi GP on December 13 – and it was already scheduled to be Grosjean’s final race for the team after five seasons. Both the 34-year-old and team-mate Kevin Magnussen are being released for 2021, with F2’s Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin expected to replace them.
Fittipaldi first tested for Haas in 2018, although has not driven their current car this year.
“Most importantly I’m happy Romain is safe and healthy,” said the Brazilian, whose most recent racing experience came in the F3 Asian championship at the start of the year.
“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.
“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.
More to follow…