Pietro Fittipaldi will pilot the second Haas car at the pre-season test in Bahrain, partnering Mick Schumacher for the occasion.
Haas recently confirmed that it was terminating Nikita Mazepin’s contract in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, its title sponsor Uralkali was dropped with immediate effect as well, as many sporting bodies sanction Russian competitors and sponsors.
A permanent replacement for Nikita Mazepin has yet to be set in stone.
Mazepin’s dismissal means the team must now choose who will line up alongside Mick Schumacher on the grid for the 2022 Formula 1 season kicking off in a matter of weeks.
Fittipaldi is Haas’ official reserve driver and was last called upon for the final two races in the 2020 season after Romain Grosjean suffered serious injuries after a fireball crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
While Haas has confirmed that he will drive for the duration of the test, Guenther Steiner has said they are considering the need for a more experienced driver to take the wheel for the new season – given how last minute the changes are.
Speaking to the Associated Press, Haas said the only decision that is finalised at this point is who will drive in Bahrain for the test.
“We’re in the process of looking at several candidates, we’ll see who is available and what we have to deal with, but we’ll have somebody by Wednesday,” a spokesperson for the team said.
“Pietro will definitely be in it, that’s what he’s for, he’s the test driver.”
Speaking about the decision to drop Mazepin and Uralkali, Haas said that the backlash of the team’s links to Russian partners was too much to continue going forward.
“There was a lot of intense criticism about the Ukrainian invasion and it was just getting overwhelming,” he said. “We can’t deal with all that, our other sponsors can’t deal with all that.”
While the loss of title sponsor Uralkali will deliver a financial hit, Haas is adamant that the team has enough resources to weather the impact.
“Haas has always been the major, primary sponsor, I don’t know why people said it became a Russian team. Haas Automation was always on the car,” he said.
“We’re good. We’re fine. We’d like more money, of course, but we’re fine,” he said. “This just gives us a bigger negative number.”
Meanwhile, rumours are swirling in the run-up to the season opener, with some suggesting the seat could go to Antonio Giovinazzi – who lost his place at Alfa Romeo at the end of last season.
The Italian, who made the move to Formula E, remains part of the Ferrari junior academy and was due to act as reserve driver for the team – sharing the role with Mick Schumacher.