Stefano Coletti has been ruled out of competition for the remainder of the 2011 GP2 season after sustaining back injuries in a crash at Spa-Francorchamps.
The Monaco-born Trident driver was running behind Mikhail Aleshin on lap 15 of the feature race when the heavens opened. With the amount of water spray being thrown up into the air behind Aleshin, Coletti could not see when the Carlin's engine went into safety mode and dramatically slowed on the run down to Pouhon.
As a result, Coletti was unable to brake in time. His car ran straight into the back of the #25 and was launched into the air by the collision, landing heavily and at an awkward angle. While the Carlin suffered the more apparent bodywork damage, it was Coletti who came off the worst out of the two drivers, as the impact from the landing resulting in two vertebral compression fractures.
Coletti was unable to extricate himself from the car without assistance and the medical safety crew had to take great care in removing him, resulting in the race spending a lengthy eight laps behind the safety car as driver well being was rightly put first and foremost.
Once moved to the ambulance, Coletti was taken to a nearby hospital in Liege for evaluation and treatment where the fractures were diagnosed.
Back fractures often result in lengthy spells out of the cockpit to ensure that the injury is fully healed and not likely to be exacerbated by the inevitable shaking and jolting from motor racing. In the IndyCar series in the US, British driver Justin Wilson recently suffered an anterior compression fracture of his fifth thoracic vertebrae in practice and was ruled out of racing for at least three months.
In GP2, both Jules Bianchi and Ho-Pin Tung suffered similar injuries after being launched off the ground in accidents during the 2010 season.