SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium — Pietro Fittipaldi’s Month of May plans at Indianapolis Motor Speedway were put into question Friday after a serious incident during qualifying for the FIA World Endurance Championship’s 6 Hours of Spa.
Fittipaldi, who was making his WEC debut as a substitute for Renger van der Zande at Team DragonSpeed, was on his second flying lap when his Gibson-BR1 prototype skidded on entry to Eau Rouge before leaving the track at a high-rate of speed and going nose-first into the protective barriers lining the course.
— Vincent Bruins (@VincentJBruins) May 4, 2018
According to a statement from the FIA, the 21-year-old grandson of Emerson Fittipaldi never lost consciousness and was transported by helicopter to a hospital in Liege, suffering suspected fractures to both legs.
Team DragonSpeed and the FIA confirmed that Fittipaldi’s condition is not life-threatening. The incident caused a 35-minute stoppage to the qualifying session while the track was cleared and Fittipaldi was extricated from his battered car.
Depending on the recovery time for his injuries, Fittipaldi could be forced to the sidelines when on-track activities begin at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 11. Fittipaldi was slated to race in the IndyCar Grand Prix and attempt to qualify for the 102nd Indianapolis 500 for Dale Coyne Racing.
Those races were part of a packed schedule that Fittipaldi had set this year, with seven planned Indy car races for the Coyne team in addition to a partial Super Formula season with Team LeMans.
We're wishing for the best for @PiFitti. We'll keep everyone posted as we learn more. Everyone on the team is thinking of you Pietro.
— Dale Coyne Racing (@DaleCoyneRacing) May 4, 2018
Fittipaldi, the reigning World Series Formula V8 3.5 champion, made his Verizon IndyCar Series debut in April at ISM Raceway. He impressed onlookers with a 10th-place qualifying effort, but crashed out on lap 40 and finished last in the 23-car field.
Should Fittipaldi be unable to race in the 102nd Indianapolis 500, it would mark the second-straight year that Dale Coyne has had to seek a substitute driver for one of his 500 entries. Sebastien Bourdais suffered a fractured pelvis and other injuries in a horrific qualifying crash last May that sidelined the Frenchman for much of the season.
James Davison replaced Bourdais in last year’s Indianapolis 500 and led the race before being collected in a late incident.
In addition to Fittipaldi, Bourdais, Conor Daly and Pippa Mann are also entered in Coyne-prepared cars for this year’s running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.