It was a huge incident involving five drivers in the IndyCar race at Pocono last weekend with Robert Wickens at the receiving end after going airborne into the fence.
The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver was in a battle with Andretti Autosports’ Ryan Hunter-Reay on Lap 9 when his front right hit the left rear of Hunter-Reay, sending the latter into a spin while the former was airborne into the fence.
The resulting crash meant the other drivers behind had to take evasive action. Wickens’ teammate James Hinchcilffe stamped on his brakes seeing Zach Veach slowing down, but he was hit by Dale Coyne Racing’s Pietro Fittipladi who was unaware of the situation.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato was also involved in the melee. While Hunter-Reay and Sato were cleared fairly quickly by the medical center, Hinchcliffe and Fittipaldi had to wait slightly longer before getting the green signal.
Wickens, meanwhile, was airlifted to then Lehigh Valley Hospital where he is being treated now. SPM along with IndyCar though released a statement to reveal the extent of the injuries which relates to his spine, hand and legs.
Following the race which was won by Andretti Autosports’ Alexander Rossi, Hunter-Reay explained the incident from his point of view, adding that he was shocked to get hit from Wickens in the high-speed corner.
“It’s unfortunate for the start of the race,” said. Hunter-Reay. “I just hope Robert’s all right. I was lucky to get out of that one. He had a run out of Turn 1, came up along the side of me, but I was in the draft of [Will] Power in front of me, so I started pulling ahead.
“Once we got to Turn 2, he was at my left rear corner at best. I even gave room. I left a lane; left a half of a lane, if not more. I was pretty shocked I got hit in the back. That is neither here nor there right now. We’re just thinking about Robert.”
At the same time, Wickens’ teammate Hinchcliffe added: “Not the race day we were hoping for. I saw the accident happening in front of me. [Zach] Veach started sliding up, I tried to slow down and just kind of lost it in the fray.
“As I was going backwards, I think Pietro [Fittipaldi] had nowhere to go and came into me. Other than that, there was a bunch of stuff going on, I’m not sure exactly what happened. I took my hands off the wheel when I went backwards.
“I think some piece of debris came in as I was holding my hands in, kind of just smacked the top of them so I took of bit of beating, but nothing is broken, just some swelling and some cuts. We’ll rest it up and be fine.
“Obviously, I’m just hoping Robbie’s all right. Never good to see a car go up [into the fence] like that, but I know he is in good hands. Hopefully, we’ll see him back in the car soon.”
For Fittipaldi, it was a scary moment especially after returning from a horrific crash himself in the endurance race at Spa-Francorchamps in May. The Brazilian was thankful that he had no broken bones and that he can race again later this weekend.
UPDATE: Nearly 24 hous after the crash, SPM and IndyCar released another joint statement updating on Wickens and adding that the Canadian driver will undergo surgery for his spinal injury next week.
“Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver Robert Wickens continues to be treated at Lehigh Valley Hospital – Cedar Crest following injuries sustained in the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, Aug. 19.
“An MRI was instrumental in revealing the most appropriate surgical course and Wickens is undergoing surgery Monday evening for a spinal injury. Further updates will be provided when available.”
Wishing @robertwickens a very quick recovery. Stay strong man!
— Carlos Sainz (@Carlossainz55) August 20, 2018
— DTM (@DTM) August 20, 2018
Wishing @robertwickens a speedy recovery after yesterday's horrible accident
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) August 20, 2018
Glad you are ok my brother @robertwickens . Couple Advil’s and I will see you in the gym Tuesday.
— Tony Kanaan (@TonyKanaan) August 19, 2018
— Dario Franchitti (@dariofranchitti) August 19, 2018
Update on @robertwickens he is ok after this terrible wreck , 2 broken ankles , arm , possible fracture vertebrae . The car held up amazingly well . And he is awake and expecting surgery… https://t.co/ljze7hZU7V
— paul tracy (@paultracy3) August 20, 2018
Preying for @robertwickens & the rest of the drivers involved at Pocono 🙏
— Stefan Wilson (@stef_wilson) August 19, 2018
— Felipe Massa (@MassaFelipe19) August 19, 2018
Thoughts with our boy @robertwickens right now 🙏
— Conor Daly (@ConorDaly22) August 19, 2018
All things considered, this is great news. Arms and legs are repairable, your head and brain as we’ve all heard plenty about, is not. Thinking about @robertwickens tonight, and always until we see him back in an @indycar running at the front! Get well Robbie. https://t.co/aUuvDBRGap
— Graham Rahal (@GrahamRahal) August 20, 2018
Really need to get away from catch fences. They are so dangerous there must be an alternative. Praying my buddy @robertwickens is ok and will recover fast
— Sage Karam (@SageKaram) August 19, 2018
— Honda Indy Toronto (@hondaindy) August 19, 2018
@robertwickens hope you're ok buddy. I've been there couple of years ago…
— Mikhail Aleshin (@mikhailaleshin) August 19, 2018
— Gary Paffett (@GaryPaffett) August 19, 2018
— Sergio Pérez (@SChecoPerez) August 20, 2018
Come on man @robertwickens
— Antonio Felix da Costa (@afelixdacosta) August 19, 2018
— Karun Chandhok (@karunchandhok) August 20, 2018
My thoughts have been with @robertwickens & his family all night. Yesterday was something which shook all of us up and is something I have never witnessed in a race I have been in.
I wish him a safe and speedy recovery.
— M A X Chilton (@maxchilton) August 20, 2018
— billywhizz (@BillyMonger) August 19, 2018
First off my prayers are there for @robertwickens for a speedy recovery. Congrats to @AlexanderRossi @FollowAndretti @NAPARacing @NAPAKnowHow and @HondaRacing_HPD for a dominant win @IndyCar race at Pocono!
— Michael Andretti (@michaelandretti) August 20, 2018
Glad to hear @robertwickens is awake and alert, hoping to hear more good news soon. Our race was over before it began unfortunately so not a great day overall. Hope to have some better luck next weekend @GatewayMSP
— Spencer Pigot (@SpencerPigot) August 19, 2018
IndyCar was not my first racing family. But Rob has been a part of my life for many years & now we’re in this family together. Hard to celebrate this win when his well-being is priority. From my crew & NAPA family, sending our prayers to Rob, Karli, his family & our friends atSPM pic.twitter.com/fpkdKYENsq
— Alexander Rossi (@AlexanderRossi) August 20, 2018