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Fittipaldi to replace injured Grosjean for Sakhir GP

James Pavey

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Tuesday 1st December, 2020 - 9:50am

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Pietro Fittipaldi

Pietro Fittipaldi will make his Formula 1 debut for Haas at this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix after the injured Romain Grosjean was ruled out following his Bahrain accident.

Grosjean escaped a 220km/h, 50g crash on the opening lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix following contact with AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat.

The Frenchman’s car split in two following the impact, with the car bursting into flames. Grosjean clambered to safety, and was airlifted to hospital for treatment.

He later posted to social media and credited the halo safety device for saving his life, and will be released from hospital on Tuesday. However, the 34-year-old will step aside for this weekend’s return event in Bahrain, with Brazilian Fittipaldi to make his Formula 1 debut.

Fittipaldi has attended the majority of races this season in his test and reserve driver role with Haas.

The grandson of two-time FIA Formula 1 World Champion and double Indy 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi, the 24-year-old has previously run the 2018 and 2019 cars across five separate tests with Haas.

This weekend’s event will mark Fittipaldi’s first time behind the wheel of the VF-20.

“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,” Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner said.

“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.”

Fittipaldi admitted it wasn’t an ideal way to mark his F1 debut, but was pleased to see Grosjean avoid serious injuries.

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

“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.

“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.”

The maiden Sakhir Grand Prix will commence with Free Practice 1 at 00:30 AEDT on Saturday.

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