Pietro Fittipaldi out of intensive care after surgery on two fractured legs

Getty Images
1 Comment

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.

MORE: Pietro Fittipladi, grandson of Emerson Fittipaldi, hurt in hard crash at Belgium’s Spa

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.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Three-time W Series champ Jamie Chadwick joining Andretti in Indy NXT Series for 2023

3 Comments

Jamie Chadwick, the three-time W Series champion, will drive for Andretti Autosport in the Indy NXT Series next season.

Chadwick will make her debut in an American racing series in March, driving the No. 28 for Andretti Autosport with sponsorship from DHL. The 24-year-old will become the first female driver in 13 years to compete full time in the Indy NXT championship.

Chadwick joined the female free-to-enter W Series in its inaugural 2019 season, winning two races and the first of three consecutive championships. She has been a reserve driver for the Williams Formula One team and will continue in that role in 2023. She also has driven in the Extreme E Series.

Despite her success, Chadwick hasn’t landed a bigger ride in F3 or F2, and her break didn’t come until Michael Andretti contacted her and offered a test in an Indy NXT car.

The final three races of this year’s W Series schedule were canceled when funding fell through, but Chadwick still believes the all-female series was the right path for her.

“W Series has always been and will continue to be an opportunity to be racing for every female driver, so for my side, I looked at it while perhaps I would have liked to step up maybe earlier, at the same time being able to have that chance to race, get that experience, have that development, seat time… I was constantly learning,” Chadwick told The Associated Press.

“In that sense, I wasn’t frustrated at all. But on the flip side of it, now I’ve had that experience testing in the United States in Indy NXT and this is something I’m really excited about.”

Chadwick also is expected to have an enhanced role as a development driver next season with Williams, which chose American driver Logan Sargeant to fill its open seat on next year’s F1 grid.

“Andretti Autosport is proud to be supporting Jamie alongside DHL,” said Michael Andretti. “Jamie’s successful career speaks for itself, but Indy NXT gives Jamie the opportunity to continue her development in a new type of racing.

“We’ve turned out five Indy NXT champions over the years and look forward to continuing our role in developing new talent.”

Indy NXT is the new name of the rebranded Indy Lights Series, the final step on the ladder system before IndyCar.

Andretti will field two drivers next season in IndyCar that were developed in Indy NXT: Kyle Kirkwood, the 2021 champion, will return to Andretti after one season in IndyCar driving for A.J. Foyt Racing, and Devlin DeFrancesco is back for a second season.

Chadwick will be teammates in Indy NXT with Hunter McElrea and Louis Foster. She becomes Andretti’s second full-time female driver alongside Catie Munnings, who competes for Andretti United in the Extreme E Series.