Felipe Massa's progress is such that his personal doctor now predicts a full recovery for the Formula One driver, injured nearly a week ago in a high-speed crash during qualifying for the Grand Prix of Hungary.
The Ferrari driver joked about his replacement, seven-time world driving titlist Michael Schumacher. "Let's see if I let him," Dino Altmann quoted Massa to Hungarian state news agency MTI on Thursday.
Schumacher, who won five consecutive driving titles with the Italian team and helped them to six consecutive constructors' titles, was named Wednesday by Ferrari to take Massa's race seat until the injured driver can return. Expectation exists that Schumacher, 40, who retired from racing cars in 2006, will drive the remaining seven grands prix of the season.
Altmann was quoted by the MTI agency as saying Massa "looks like a boxer, but he's eating well, walking about, taking showers."
Massa, 28, suffered a skull fracture and heavy bruising around his left eye when he was struck by a spring weighing 800 grams (nearly two pounds) that fell off the Brawn GP of compatriot Rubens Barrichello on Saturday. Massa, who was estimated to be traveling at some 250 km/h (160 mph) at the moment the spring bounced from the pavement and hit his helmet, crashed into a tire barrier. According to Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, Massa also suffered intestinal inflammation caused by his abdomen's abrupt halt against the car's seat belt at the moment of impact with the tire barrier.
Massa underwent emergency surgery Saturday and was placed in induced coma and on a respirator to aid recovery. He was awakened and taken off the respirator Monday. By Tuesday, he was alert and responding to questions in three languages, Altmann told reporters at AEK military hospital in Budapest, Hungary, where he was taken from the Hungaroring. Wednesday, the driver was moved to a private room from the hospital's intensive care unit.
The MTI agency Thursday quoted Altmann as saying last year's world championship runner-up will stay in hospital for a few more days and will at length fly straight home to Brazil. La Gazzetta dello Sport asserted Altmann said that could be as soon as Sunday.