21 May 2011
Indy 500: I’m lucky to be here, says de Silvestro
Simona de Silvestro has been talking about the wild ride she took during Thursday's practice session, and the burn injuries to her hands that might keep her out of the Indy 500.
Simona de Silvestro was forced to sit out practice today as she recuperated from serious burn injuries to her hands sustained in a major crash early in practice on Thursday.
The crash happened just 25 minutes into the session, on her seventh lap of the 2.5 mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"Something broke on the rear suspension and when that happens you're just a passenger," she confirmed, "especially when you're going about 220 mph. I hit the wall and it took forever to land it seemed, and then it started getting pretty hot out there.
"It was pretty shocking actually, especially to be on fire. It's kind of weird because the fuel is splashing on you and you don't really know what to do. A lot of things go through your head, but you want to get out of the car as quickly as possible.
“I don't think I was a good patient in the infield medical centre because I was in a lot of pain and I was screaming for water to cool my hands down,” she continued, praising the good care she received there. The team carried out some preliminary treatment for second degree burns to the back of her right hands and superficial burns to her left before dispatching her to the local Methodist Hospital.
She returned to the paddock later in the day sporting what she dubbed on Twitter as her "Mickey Mouse gloves" - the oversize dressings on her hands.
It's not the first time she's found herself in this position. Ironically, in the very next race after Indianapolis last year, de Silvestro had a serious crash at Texas that also saw her car catch fire, and she received burn injuries when the safety crew had trouble deploying their fire-fighting equipment and extricating her from the burning car.
Those burns were fairly minor, however, compared to her current injuries. IndyCar medical director Dr. Michael Olinger evaluated her injuries on Friday morning and said he could not clear her to race; as part of the evaluation he removed her bandages to examine the burns, allowing her to see the situation for herself at the same time: "We took the bandages off and [my hands] were really blistered.
“[Last year's burns] were small blisters on the palms of my hand and these look like something out of a horror movie,” the 22-year-old Swiss driver continued. “It looks bad and feels bad ... I can move my hands, but it is pretty tight because it pulls the skin."
She will undergo further evaluation which will take place before Saturday's qualifying sessions. The tests require her to wear a tight glove, firmly grip the steering wheel and absorb the physical stress of the car turning at high speeds. Gripping the steering wheel will be difficult enough, let along the manual dexterity required for using the gearshift paddles: "It will hurt a lot. Luckily, on an oval it's not as physical as a road course."
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