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."

But for the time being, however, she's happy just to be here and for the injuries not to be any worse than they actually are. "It just shows how safe the car is. I don't think a crash like that in any other car I would be standing here.

"I was pretty shocked, but I can say I'm lucky to be here."

In the meantime, the HVM team also have to build up a new car for de Silvestro, after confirming that the main car involved in the previous day's accident was "going in the trash."

"The question is will this car be as quick as the other one? That's the challenge," said team owner Keith Wiggins. "We've got to get that sorted out, and obviously, she's got to get her confidence back up as well."

For her part, de Silvestro wants to get back in the cockpit as soon as possible. "It is my goal to get back in the car as quickly as I can," she said. "For any race car driver it's important to get right back in the car [after an accident.] I think when I go out there again I'll enjoy it."

In the event that de Silvestro isn't cleared to drive for the qualifying sessions, the team have the option under the Indy 500 rules of having another driver attempt to qualify the #78 T-car in her place. If the car made it onto the grid after Bump Day, then switching drivers would mean that de Silvestro would then start at the back of the field regardless of the actual qualifying position come Race Day.



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