Pietro Fittipaldi’s hoped-for debut in the Indianapolis 500 for Dale Coyne Racing on May 27 ended before he could even get started.
The 21-year-old Brazilian driver underwent successful surgery Friday night at a hospital in Belgium to stabilize two fractured legs, the result of a wicked head-on crash during qualifying for the WEC season opener earlier Friday at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
Pietro, grandson of former F1 champ and two-time Indy 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi, was taken out of intensive care this morning, motorsports ruling body FIA said in a statement.
“At 10:30 (a.m.) [CET] today he left intensive care,” the statement said. “His father was with him throughout the night.”
The younger Fittipaldi is expected to be sidelined for at least eight weeks while he recovers from the hard hit.
A World Endurance Championship statement read: “Pietro Fittipaldi is well and his condition is stable.
“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.”
The younger Fittipaldi, who won last year’s Formula V8 3.5 championship, was making his way through the very difficult Eau Rouge area of the famed Spa track when he bounced awkwardly off a rumble strip, lost control and crashed head-on into a barrier.
Safety workers struggled to free him from the damage of his No. 10 DragonSpeed BR Engineering LMP1, leading to a red-flag qualifying stoppage that lasted over 30 minutes.
He was transported by helicopter to a local hospital in Liege, Belgium, for treatment of his injuries.
Fittipaldi was driving in place of Renger van der Zande in what would have been the former’s WEC debut. He had been splitting his time this season competing between WEC, Super Formula and IndyCar.
After qualifying 10th, he finished 23rd in his first IndyCar race a month ago in Phoenix at ISM Raceway. The Indy 500 was scheduled to be his second race on the IndyCar circuit.
Fittipaldi was also slated to drive in several other IndyCar races including Texas, Mid-Ohio, Portland and the season-ending race at Sonoma.
If he indeed heals in eight weeks without complications, Fittipaldi’s next race could potentially be at Fuji, Japan in July in the Super Formula series for Team LeMans.