Pietro Fittipaldi will make his Formula 1 debut with Haas at the Sakhir Grand Prix as a substitute for the injured Romain Grosjean.

Grosjean sustained burns to his hands and ankles in a horrifying 137mph, 53G crash on the opening lap of Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix that resulted in his Haas car being torn in half and engulfed in flames.

The Frenchman, who remarkably walked away from the fireball, is currently recovering from his injuries in hospital and is expected to be discharged on Tuesday.

But Grosjean has been ruled out of this weekend’s second race to be held in Bahrain and Haas has subsequently decided to replace him with Fittipaldi, grandson of two-time F1 world champion Emerson.

“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 Haas F1 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.”

Fittipaldi has never driven Haas’ 2020 VF-20 car but he has carried out a number of tests in the team’s 2018 and 2019 cars in his role as official test and reserve driver for the American outfit.

The 24-year-old Brazilian won the 2017 Formula V8 3.5 title and has since had spells racing in IndyCar, the DTM, Super Formula and Asian F3 alongside his Haas commitments. 

“Most importantly I’m happy Romain (Grosjean) is safe and healthy,” Fittipaldi explained. “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.”