Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa driver, Ed Jones, has broken a bone in his left hand after a crash in last Sunday’s 2019 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Jones hit the wall halfway through the NTT IndyCar Series season-opening race, with the bone breakage being the final nail in the coffin of what had already been a “frustrating” and “difficult” weekend.
The Dubai-born British driver entered the weekend at St. Petersburg hoping for a strong result in his first race for Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa. Jones made the switch to ECR for this season after being replaced at Chip Ganassi Racing by Felix Rosenqvist.
The weekend in Florida got off to a tricky start almost straightaway in Friday practice. Jones’ #20 Chevrolet suffered numerous brake issues which impacted the data they were trying to collect. The issue was resolved for the second session later in the afternoon, but, as Jones said after the session, his team would have to rely on the data from his team-mate, Spencer Pigot, who seemed to be running a better package.
“We had some issues with brakes in the first session,” Jones said on Friday, “so that made things a bit more difficult, but we sorted that out before this afternoon. We made good progress in the second session but ran quite a bit different from my teammate. It was good to do that with the two cars, so we can figure out a better package. Spencer [Pigot] did a good job; we can follow more his direction tomorrow and make another jump going into qualifying.”
The setup changes going into Saturday seemed to make a positive difference, with Jones putting his #20 Chevrolet in sixth place in final practice. Sadly for Ed, he would be unable to showcase his potential speed when it came to qualifying in the afternoon. Jones was one of a handful of drivers who were caught out by two red flags during his group in the opening session of qualifying. As a result, Jones would be unable to set a representative lap-time and would be forced to start the race down in fifteenth place.
“Qualifying was super frustrating.” said Jones after the conclusion of the session, “We weren’t the only ones caught out by the red flags, but what hurts the most is that the team did a fantastic job over last night to improve the car. We were sixth this morning and the car felt great. Unfortunately, no one did a push lap, it was only out lap times. It’s disappointing, but as Sebastien [Bourdais] has shown us the last two years, you can start at the back and still win the race.”
As Jones alluded to after qualifying, he was still hopeful of a positive race result on Sunday, hoping to emulate Sebastien Bourdais by coming from the back to finish strongly. Sadly, the disappointing theme of the weekend for Ed continued.
The race started well for Jones, with the #20 car staying out of trouble for the opening few laps before beginning to advance through the order. Jones had just moved inside of the top ten and was attempting to make a move on Arrow Schmidt Peterson‘s James Hinchcliffe, when, on lap twenty-six, he would hit the wall on the exit of turn nine.
Replays showed that Jones had slipped the inside wall with his right-front tyre, with the contact sending him straight into the outside wall. The #20 Chevrolet was left stuck out onto the ideal racing line for the exit of the corner. Several drivers managed to squeeze by Jones’s wrecked car, but A.J. Foyt Enterprises‘ Matheus Leist was not able to do so; with the Brazilian clipping Jones with his left-rear wheel, thus causing his retirement along with Ed.
After climbing from the car, Jones would speak in post-race interviews of his disappointment regarding the entire weekend. He would take responsibility for his race-ending crash, stating later that his team “deserved a better result” after the “great work” they had done throughout the event.
“It’s been a frustrating weekend so far,” a disappointed Jones told interviewers on Sunday, “We had the pace to be at the front in qualifying. Then today, the guys gave me a great race car. We had to take risks to get forward quickly. I made it from 16th to ninth, then I just tried to get a run on [James] Hinchcliffe, unfortunately, I clipped the inside wall in Turn 9 and that was it. I’m sorry for the team; they did great work and they deserved a better result.”
After the race, Jones was spotted with bandages around his left hand, insinuating that Ed had picked up an injury in his accident. This would be confirmed later on by IndyCar medical director Dr Geoffrey Billows, who told reporters that Ed had suffered a “small non-displaced fracture of his distal 4th metacarpal.”
The injury is only a minor breakage in the grand scheme of things and would have likely been caused by a sudden movement of the steering wheel either when Jones clipped the wall with his right-front tyre or when he hit the wall again moments later. It is through fear of hand injuries that single-seater racing drivers will often let go of the steering wheel before an impact, but Jones would not have been able to do so due to the sudden nature of his accident on Sunday.
Jones is expected to be back behind the wheel for the second round of the season at the Circuit of the Americas in just under two weeks time. His injury is such that he should be able to race with a splint on his hand to help aid recovery and limit pain.
The 2019 IndyCar Classic at COTA will take place on Sunday, March 24.