F1

Massa leaves ICU, takes first steps

Brazilian race driver Felipe Massa on Wednesday moved from intensive care to wider confines of AEK Hospital in Budapest, Hungary. He is expected to be well enough to leave hospital in the coming week or 10 days. The Ferrari driver was taken...

Brazilian race driver Felipe Massa on Wednesday moved from intensive care to wider confines of AEK Hospital in Budapest, Hungary. He is expected to be well enough to leave hospital in the coming week or 10 days.

The Ferrari driver was taken there Saturday from the Hungaroring after suffering a high-speed crash during qualifying for Sunday's Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary. He underwent emergency surgery for a skull fracture and was in an induced coma until Monday.

Massa walked Wednesday for the first time since Saturday. His personal doctor, Dino Altmann, told Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport his patient's progress is cause for joy.

"The situation is still delicate, but I believe his life is not in danger anymore," Altmann said. "From the beginning I felt the trauma wasn't as extended as it was believed, but the improvements have gone beyond our wildest expectations."

Altmann confirmed Tuesday to reporters at the hospital that multilingual Massa, 28, was speaking to family and friends in three languages. Altmann said Massa's eyesight appears to be fine.

The Sao Paolo native's left eye suffered heavy bruising and his skull was fractured when he was hit by a spring weighing nearly 2 pounds that fell from the rear suspension of compatriot Rubens Barrichello's Brawn GP BGP001 during the second of three qualifying sessions.

"The driver has had more exams carried out, confirming his continuing improvement," a statement on Ferrari's website read. "Felipe speaks, can sit upright, and was even able to take his first steps.

"From the clinical and radiological point of view, everything is going extremely well. Felipe will stay at the AEK Hospital for the next few days until he can be taken somewhere else."

His has been linked to a move to the renowned Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital in Paris.

Ferrari said president Luca di Montezemolo, who went to the hospital Monday when Massa was sedated, would return to Budapest to greet his driver.

The team announced Wednesday that Michael Schumacher, the former five-time world champion for the scuderia who remains on a 4 million pound retainer to act as adviser, will take Massa's place for as long as needed.

Schumacher has a close association with Massa, whose driving career Schumacher helped advance. Massa only narrowly missed winning the International Automobile Federation (FIA) World Drivers' Championship last year. He had it won when he took victory in his home grand prix last November in Brazil. But before he reached the finish line, Lewis Hamilton's passed Toyota's Timo Glock for fifth place to give the Englishman sufficient points to win the world title, 98-97.

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