Pietro Fittipaldi handed F1 debut as Grosjean will miss Sakhir Grand Prix

2020 Sakhir Grand Prix

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Pietro Fittipaldi will make his Formula 1 debut in this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix as a substitute for Romain Grosjean, Haas have confirmed.

Team principal Guenther Steiner said Grosjean “will miss at least one race” after sustaining burns to his hands in yesterday’s crash during the Bahrain Grand Prix.

“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 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.”

Fittipaldi won the Formula V8 3.5 World Series in 2017 and later raced in the World Endurance Championship and IndyCar. He has since worked for Haas as their simulator driver.

“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 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.”

Fittipaldi is the grandson of 1972 and 1974 world champion Emerson Fittipaldi. Two other members of his family, Wilson Fittipaldi and Christian Fittipaldi, previously raced in F1.

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Keith Collantine
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  • 52 comments on “Pietro Fittipaldi handed F1 debut as Grosjean will miss Sakhir Grand Prix”

    1. I could see this coming more or less the whole time and also seeing him in the pit lane during the red flag.

    2. Seen him in the flesh covering Formula V8 3.5, he is a good and fast bloke.

      Wish Grosjean a speed recovery and farewell for Abu Dhabi.

    3. How does he qualify for a super license – the best I can do is get him to 36 points (and thats if he’s done a FP1 somewhere along the line).

      I suppose he’s decent enough with a junior championship win and he’s in the Covid bubble so its a reasonable exemption to make. Also the F2 guys will want to see the championship out next weekend rather than getting thrown in the deep end.

      1. If he qualified for a SL at some point in the past 2 years, he could’ve acquired it and just renewed it in the meantime. Renewal is easier than acquiring a new one. Louis Delatraz has one i think, even though based off his results in the past 2 seasons he wouldn’t qualify for one. I think that’s the situation with Pietro as well

      2. It is not really deep, but rather in the back fighting with Ferrari for P17.

      3. He didn’t qualify for a superlicense. At least under the rules we knew but FIA already jumped to say that 30, not 40 points, are now required for cases of force majeure.
        @xenn1. They can’t renew superlicenses if they don’t use them. They still need to get the necessary points in the last three years.

      4. He has 35 points from his FR3.5 V8 title and 6 points from Asian F3 in yhe beginning of this year.

        1. And Deletraz obtained a super licence in 2017 based on his FR 3.5 V8 runner up position in 2016 and a FR 2.0 title in 2014 and runner up position in 2015. These categories had more points in those years.

      5. How does he qualify for a super license

        A good question, as it wasn’t straightforward. Here’s how:

        https://www.racefans.net/2020/11/30/how-pietro-fittipaldi-narrowly-qualified-for-his-f1-debut-this-weekend/

    4. It’s a fair assumption that any potential substitute (whether it be Hulkenberg, Fittipaldi, Deletraz etc.) would likely be last in the Haas if both Grosjean and Magnussen can only hit heights of 17th with their best qualifying efforts. If he is allowed in the car (superlicense etc.) then he’s the logical choice, given that he’s always been there with the team for two years or so, working closely with Grosjean.

      1. he is not only the logical choice, but basically the only choice because he has a contract as the team’s third driver, and of course he has a super license to be contracted to fill in for race drivers.

    5. Great to see the Fittipaldi name back in F1.

      1. Indeed. I have a feeling that he will be the slowest behind Latifi

    6. Prepare to finish in the points Haas! That is to say, it’s bound to be an improvement.

      1. Well, as a fittipaldi, you never know indeed.

      2. Rodber, not really – the general consensus is that Pietro’s successes have mainly been in those series with weaker opposition, and his performances in more major series has been rather mixed at best (such as his 17th place in the 2015 European Formula 3 season he participated in).

        Generally, the consensus is that, whilst he will do as a short term replacement for the team, given how familiar he is with how Haas operates, if you were to pick a driver to replace Grosjean on merit, there are a lot of drivers out there with far better credentials than Pietro.

    7. So did Hulk have his phone turned off or is Haas one of the few teams that actually use their third/reserve drivers instead of hiring someone from the outside?

      1. Hulk has a phone in every pocket and never sleeps.

      2. Haas had a reserve driver (and test) x2 and they select the young one!

        So he is doing his job!

    8. Wait, team not using Hulk, but actual reserve driver? What is going on here.

    9. Hopefully they get Mick Schumacher in there for Abu Dhabi.

      1. Probably would want to focus on winning the F2 championship rather than fighting with Latifi for P19.

    10. Must say I am surprised. Given the compressed schedule and the characteristics of the upcoming race track, I expected them to go for a driver, who is more familiar with F1 and F1 car…Nicolas Hülkenberg. I believe Pietro will be (sort of) first 3rd generation driver in F1?

    11. I doubt Roman will race again, let alone in f1. He has 3 kids, the look in his eye in the medical car was definitely one of ‘I shouldn’t be here’. Does he really want to have too be lucky again?

      I would expect drivers like Seb to also reappraise whether it is all really worth it. Back in the bad old days, drivers with kids usually left teams or were dropped due to loss of form. With priorities changing and this sort of incident claiming 2 or 3 drivers a year or seriously maiming them, drivers with families found it tougher to really push hard.

      Yesterday I thought they all showed a high level of bravery just to get back in the cars, the constant replaying of the incident, doing nothing for their own sense of wellbeing, unless you’re Max but Max is not the rest and even he’ll feel mortal one day.

      1. I agree. Grosjean was trying to do something none of the others would: to swerve across the track as if there were no other cars around him. Sadly, not for the first time either.

      2. @tonymansell, maybe but not necessarily. Many drivers have bigger accidents, stay in hospital and even in coma for longer periods of time and still return to racing. They are racing drivers after all and that is what they do.

        1. @paulk If Grosjean was 10 years younger and had no kids, i bet he wouldn’t hesitate to get back in the car.

          However given his current circumstances of being on the way out with no confirmed drive for next year I could see him retiring or at the very least taking a sabbatical. He may realise he misses the buzz but I bet he won’t get it back in a hurry.

          People talk about kids a lot when this conversation comes up and with good reason, any parent will second this.

      3. Lauda and Kubica had worse and came back. Grosjean will be released from hospital tomorrow and will fulfill his contract at HAAS at Abu Dhabi.

        1. Well im speculating, as are you. Roman had already been very wary of Indy because of the Ovals, I think he is very aware of risk and his own limitations and is nearer the end of his career with a family.

          Kubica’s was not a worse accident in any way and Lauda was made of different stuff to most drivers if not all of them. Each circumstance is unique and plenty of drivers have walked away so its kind of irrelevant what other people have done. This kind of crash hasn’t really happened in f1 since the 70s. Even Berger’s was not as violent as this one and that was a one off till now.

          1. @tonymansell in the case of Lauda, he did later reveal in his memoirs that, whilst he put on an impression of calmness in public, in private he admitted that it took considerable time for him to overcome the psychological impacts of that accident – he was, in his own words, terrified of getting back into the car for quite some time afterwards. Whilst he might have eventually done so, in private Lauda took a lot longer to recover from that accident than kpcart’s post would seem to suggest.

    12. I really hope that Grosjean is fit enough to drive the race in Abu Dhabi, otherwise his last appearance in F1 was him climbing out of a burning wreck. I really wish him a worthy farewell of of F1.

      1. Better to go out with a bang imo.

      2. I’m not sure. If he returns in Abu Dhabi, he will probably finish near the back, and have a fairly anonymous return (apart from the impressiveness of returning at all). Like this, he ends his Formula 1 career by surviving one of the biggest accidents of all time. Arguably it would be a better end to his career if he retired now.

    13. Good to see a team actually having a real reserve driver. And giving him the chance to drive the car when they need a replacement.

      I can wholly understand that getting back into the car less than a week after his crash, after burning his hands is not the best idea for Grosjean. His burns are unlikely to have healed in 4 days. Maybe if a title or placing in the championhip was at stake they would try to make that happen. But since the car will finish somwhere in the last 5 cars anyway, especially on the Bahrain outer track, I’d say its more or less even who you put in that car.

    14. Good for him. Would a good showing from him (not that expect much given the circumstances) sway the team into giving him a seat for next year? Very unlikely I presume, but would it be impossible?

    15. Quite a stupid decision – Pietro vs. Hulk…

      1. Hulk was never on the list.

    16. Never heard of the guy – is he any good?
      Does he bring talent or cash?
      Can we make fun of him?

      1. @nullapax Well. He got his famous name and maybe some money behind him. But I wouldn’t be suprised if he has risen in this level because of his grandpa. Sometimes he has the speed but that’s about it. He has won some series but nothing special.

    17. Wow, that’s a great choice Haas!

    18. I was kind of hoping for Deletraz, their other driver they have ties to. Underrated, a great racer and seems a nice bloke. But good luck to Fittipaldi – I don’t expect much but I hope he does well.

    19. Since Haas have no one confirmed for next year, I wonder if we could have a potential Kobayashi situation where a relative unknown is given an unlikely shot and ends up impressing and getting a seat.

      I assume one of the Haas seats is going to Mick but haven’t heard much about who could be getting the other?

      1. The other Haas seat goes to Nikita Mazepin. His dad is buying him a ride. He only needs to finish in the top 7 in F2, but that is very likely after his results past weekend.

      2. It’s possible and would be a great story but hard to compete with Putin’s cash / Mazepin.

    20. Should Pietro start he will be the 4th member of the Fittipaldi family to compete in Formula 1, after his grandfather Emerson, granduncle Wilson and first cousin once removed, Christian. This has to be a record right?

    21. My 2 year old daughter will be happy. She said Fittipaldi out of the blue the other day! Didn’t know she knew that one… I must talk about f1 A LOT!

    22. Agris Rūmītis
      30th November 2020, 21:32

      well, in all this situation – the miracle is Romain got out excellently!thanks to f1 safety. second – it’s not surprise it was Romain. . . sorry. . . after all i suppose HAAS cheap business model of entering F1 is back fireing now with worse and worse car year by year on. I think they have to ditch Dallara and start do it themselves all properly

    23. He was actually having a solid career until Formula V8, but after that it was one disappointment after another. His performance on Asian F3 was especially lackluster. Maybe he can surprise everyone just like Bruno Senna did on his first GP with the Renault-Lotus at Belgium. It seems Pietro was already finished for F1 before even starting, but now he may have a one chance to succeed and get some recognition.

    24. Diego Oliveira
      1st December 2020, 11:36

      Great. How long has it been since a brasilian driver was in a F1 car?

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