SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium – Pietro Fittipaldi underwent successful surgery Friday night following a violent crash during qualifying for the season-opening FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Spa.
Fittipaldi, who was airlifted to the hospital with suspected fractures to both legs, crashed at Eau Rouge on his second flying lap during Friday’s qualifying session.
The extent of Fittipaldi’s injuries were revealed later, with the 21-year-old Brazilian suffering a compound fracture to his lower left leg and a broken right ankle in the shunt.
Fittipaldi remains in a Liege-area hospital following the surgery, but is no longer in intensive care.
“Pietro Fittipaldi is well and his condition is stable,” the FIA said in a statement released Saturday morning. “He was operated on last night for fractures to both his legs, and the operation went well. He remains under observation at the Centre Hospitalier de la Citadelle de Liege.”
“The left leg, which suffered a complex fracture, has been satisfactorily operated upon. Pietro was completely conscious on exiting the operating suite and was able to describe what happened to him. At 10:30 [CET] today he left intensive care. His father was with him throughout the night.”
Fittipaldi’s injuries will keep him out of both the IndyCar Grand Prix and the 102nd Indianapolis 500 later this month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He is expected to be on the sidelines for eight weeks, according to a Motorsport.com report.
His IndyCar team owner, Dale Coyne, is left to find a substitute driver for the Indianapolis 500 for the second-straight year. Sebastien Bourdais crashed in qualifying last May and had to miss The Greatest Spectacle in Racing due to a fractured pelvis and other injuries.
Canadian Zachary Claman de Melo, who is sharing the No. 19 Honda with Fittipaldi this season and contesting all of the IndyCar Series road and street races, would be a potential option to replace Fittipaldi for the Month of May, but Coyne was non-committal about his plan as of Saturday.
“As far as standing in for Pietro is concerned, we haven’t talked to Zachary about the Indy 500,” Coyne told Motorsport.com. “He’s the logical choice for the Indy road course next week, isn’t he? But the 500 … I don’t know. It’s a big step. We’d have to talk a little more about that.
“We’ll also talk to PaySafe [De Melo’s sponsor] on Monday about what they might want to do. Texas is another one I’m not so sure about Zachary doing at this stage of his career.”
Fittipaldi was due to drive in seven races for Coyne this season, in addition to running a partial Super Formula schedule. He made his IndyCar debut at ISM Raceway in April, qualifying 10th but crashing out at lap 40.