Pietro Fittipaldi is making his Formula 1 debut at this weekend’s Sakhir GP, replacing Romain Grosjean at Haas.
The Brazilian is one of two rookies, along with Williams reserve Jack Aitken who is replacing Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes stand-in George Russell, who will step up to make his first grand prix start on Bahrain’s outer-loop circuit.
The 24-year-old was the first port of call for the American team when it became clear that the burns Grosjean suffered in his Bahrain GP crash would prevent his participation.
Who is Pietro Fittipaldi, and is he related to Emerson Fittipaldi?
Fittipaldi has been part of the Haas set-up since 2018, after winning the final iteration of the World Series 3.5 title in 2017. He is well-known to the team, having completed seven test days across 2018 and 2019.
He is the grandson of double world champion Emerson Fittipaldi, and comes from an extensive racing family.
His great uncle, Wilson, raced alongside Emerson in Formula 1 between 1972 and 1975, peaking with a fifth place at the 1973 German Grand Prix, while his uncle Max Papis started seven grands prix for Footwork in 1995 before enjoying a successful career in Champ Car.
His younger brother, Enzo, raced in FIA F3 this year, with a best finish of fourth at Mugello.
What experience does he have in racing?
Fittipaldi started his career in BRDC F4 in 2013, winning once at Brands Hatch, before stepping back to the club-level Formula Renault 2.0 BARC series and taking the title.
After taking the massive leap up to the FIA European F3 championship in 2015, Fittipaldi struggled with two sixth places at Portimao his best results, but did win the Indian-based MRF Formula series over the winter of 2015-16.
Another step up in power in the Formula V8 3.5 series for 2016 yielded a podium in the final race at Barcelona, before beating a slim field in 2017 for the Charouz team.
A patchy 2018 followed as Fittipaldi attempted to dovetail a partial IndyCar schedule for Dale Coyne Racing with a WEC season with DragonSpeed.
Two broken legs on his WEC debut at Spa, when a power steering failure pitched him into the wall at Eau Rouge, meant he missed much of the year, with a single top 10 at Portland his best finish in six IndyCar appearances.
After switching to the DTM with the private WRT squad for 2019, Fittipaldi he kept his hand in single-seaters with an F3 Asia campaign over the winter of 2019-20.
Why is he replacing Romain Grosjean at Haas?
Fittipaldi was the logical option to replace Grosjean following the Frenchman’s fiery accident in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
He is one of two reserve drivers on the Haas team’s books, with F2 racer Louis Deletraz the other option.
But the Swiss, who will conclude his F2 campaign with Charouz this weekend, has only one day of testing for Haas under his belt so has significantly less experience in F1 machinery than Fittipaldi, although he has more recent race experience in a high-powered single-seater.
It remains unclear whether he will continue in the team for the season-ending Bahrain Grand Prix, or what his options for 2021 will be after Mick Schumacher was announced on Wednesday as the team’s second driver alongside fellow F2 graduate Nikita Mazepin next year.
When is Romain Grosjean going to return to F1?
Grosjean was discharged from hospital on Wednesday.
Speaking to media on Tuesday, Haas team principal Gunther Steiner revealed that Grosjean intends to return to competition for the final round in Abu Dhabi, his last outing with the team he has raced for since it joined F1 in 2016.
The Frenchman is currently 18th in the standings, having scored only two points in 2020 for ninth place at the Eifel GP.
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