Warning: Video shows Romain Grosjean walking away from an inferno after first lap crash in the Bahrain Grand Prix
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.
Romain Grosjean posted a video from his hospital bed telling fans ‘I’m sort of ok’ following his horrific crash in Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix
Team boss Guenther Steiner visited Grosjean on Monday and the team soon confirmed that Fittipaldi would step up to a race seat this weekend.
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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 Steiner.
Replays of the incident and aftermath involving Romain Grosjean on the first lap of the Bahrain GP. Warning: Contains footage of Grosjean escaping his car after it went up in flames
“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.
Grosjean speaks from hospital bed: Halo saved my life
The Haas driver spent Sunday night in hospital as doctors continued to treat burns to the back of his hands.
Appearing in good spirits as he posted an Instagram video from his hospital bed, the Frenchman thanked medical teams at both the circuit and the hospital – and credited the Halo head protection device, introduced to F1 in 2018, for allowing him to walk away from the accident.
“Hello everyone, just wanted to say I am okay… sort of okay,” he said, as he waved hands heavily wrapped in bandages.
“Thank you very much for all the messages.”
“I wasn’t for the Halo some years ago but I think it’s the greatest thing we brought for Formula 1, and without it I wouldn’t be able to speak to you today.
“Thanks to all the medical staff at the circuit and at the hospital and hopefully I can write to you quite soon some messages and tell you how it’s going.”
On Monday morning, he posted a further social media messaging thanking team-mate Magnussen for his well-wishes.