Simona de Silvestro will not compete at this weekend's Iowa Corn Indy 250 race at Iowa Speedway, after displaying post-concussion symptoms following her heavy crash in qualifying at Milwaukee last weekend.
De Silvestro spun during her qualifying warm-up lap at Milwaukee and made heavy rear-end contact with the SAFER barrier at turn 4 before rebounding into a second impact with the inside retaining wall. She had to be carefully extricated from the car by the safety crew and was subsequently taken to Froedert Medical Center for further examination, where she was she was described as being awake and alert after the wreck and complaining of stiffness, bruising and feeling sore.
She needed stitches to a cut on her leg from where it impacted the steering wheel and also underwent neurological exams to check for concussion - of which there was no sign at the time - before being cleared to start last weekend's race. However, she was clearly off the pace and the HVM Racing team opted to call her into the pits and park the #78 after little more than a dozen laps.
She was taken to the Milwaukee Mile in-field care centre after reporting post-concussion symptoms, which can be brought out by physical and/or emotional stress, which meant that she needed to pass further medical evaluation by the IndyCar medical staff before being passed fit to race at Iowa.
Post-concussion symptoms can include headaches, dizziness, memory problems, nausea and impaired or blurred vision. Sergio Perez had to withdraw from the Montreal F1 Grand Prix after suffering from post-concussion symptoms arising from his violent crash in Monaco two weeks before, while Christian Vietoris had to be replaced in GP2 for two weekends because of headaches resulting from a heavy crash during the support event to the Turkish F1 Grand Prix.
De Silvestro's re-evaluation took place on Friday morning ahead of first practice, and the medics took the decision that de Silvestro was still displaying symptoms and was not race-fit. She will now need to be evaluated again before the Honda Indy Toronto on July 10 before she will be allowed to race again.
HVM will not field a replacement driver in the #78 car at Iowa.
It's been a tough few weeks for de Silvestro, who also suffered a violent crash in practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May which saw her car flip over and catch fire, leaving her with burns to her hands. The medical team required her to take the following day off practice before finally clearing her to participate in the all-important Saturday Pole Day, which saw her qualify for the 33-car grid and meant that she then had a week off before competing in the Indianapolis 500 itself with her hands still badly burned and requiring special dressings.
She admitted frankly at the time that between the accident at Indianapolis and getting back into the car on Pole Day, she had serious doubts about whether she actually wanted to drive again.
"Every athlete always has that moment where he doesn't really know what to do," de Silvestro said later. "I was really scared. I didn't know if I wanted to get back into a race car."
The 22-year-old Swiss driver had continued, "My team was really supportive. They let me be on Friday to just kind of think about it ... "You're a race car driver at heart, so you kind of start thinking that you really enjoy it. I think it was really important for me to get back in the car today. If I didn't, all these mixed emotions would have stayed with me for a long time."
The first Iowa practice session went ahead at noon local time with Dario Franchitti setting the fastest time ahead of Takuma Sato.