INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Simona de Silvestro was forced to make another quick fire escape at Indianapolis.
Fortunately, she wasn’t hurt.
The Swiss driver who qualified and then drove in the 2011 Indianapolis 500 despite burns on both of her hands scrambled out of the cockpit of Michael Andretti’s No. 29 car Tuesday after it burst into flames about two hours into practice.
“I was going down the straightaway, and it wouldn’t upshift and it was already on fire then,” de Silvestro said. “It happened really quickly. We were ready to go do a longer run and now we’re not getting that in, so it’s really frustrating.”
Five years ago at Texas, de Silvestro’s car burst into flames after she hit the wall in the second turn. She sustained minor burns on a finger on her right hand as she climbed out of the car herself. Then, during practice at Indy in 2011, her car burst into flames after she lost control and hit the wall. The car went airborne and flipped several times before coming to a stop upside down and on fire.
This time, the fire was caused by a mechanical failure: The fuel buckeye in her Honda-powered car got stuck in the open position.
Again, de Silvestro quickly climbed out of the cockpit on her own, knocking over one track worker as others extinguished the flames, causing a thick cloud of black smoke. De Silvestro was taken back to pit lane instead of going to the infield medical center.
The back end of the car was badly burned, another troubling moment in an already tough month for Andretti Autosport.
“It’s really frustrating because it seems like fire just follows us all the time,” de Silvestro said. “Hopefully the team can get the car back together as quickly as possible. It’s just annoying because that’s a pretty big setback for us.”
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