SAKHIR, Bahrain – Pietro Fittipaldi, the grandson of two-time Formula One champion Emerson Fittipaldi, will make his Formula One debut for the Haas F1 Team on Dec. 6 in place of injured driver Romain Grosjean.
Grosjean suffered burns to his hands during a violent crash in Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain Int’l Circuit, forcing him to miss the next round of the championship that will also take place in Bahrain.
Twenty-four-year-old Fittipaldi has attended the majority of Formula One races this season in his test and reserve driver role with the team. The Miami-born Brazilian won the Formula V8 3.5 Championship in 2017 and competed in six NTT IndyCar Series events in 2018.
Prior to transitioning to open-wheel racing, Fittipaldi spent the early portion of his career racing stock cars in the United States. He won the limited late model track championship at North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway driving for Lee Faulk Racing in 2011.
“After it was decided that the best thing for Romain (Grosjean) was to skip at least one race, the choice to put Pietro (Fittipaldi) 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.”
“Most importantly I’m happy Romain (Grosjean) is safe and healthy,” said Fittipaldi. “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 One, 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 One – I’ll be giving it my all and I look forward to starting in free practice on Friday in Bahrain.”