Felipe Massa was awake Monday, speaking to family members who have flown from Brazil, and moving his limbs, doctors reported from AEK military hospital in Budapest, Hungary. Felipe Massa, Scuderia Ferrari. Photo by xpb.cc. The...
Felipe Massa was awake Monday, speaking to family members who have flown from Brazil, and moving his limbs, doctors reported from AEK military hospital in Budapest, Hungary.
The Ferrari driver underwent surgery Saturday after suffering head and eye injuries during qualifying for the Grand Prix of Hungary. Massa was hit on the head by a spring that broke free from the rear suspension of the Brawn GP of Rubens Barrichello.
Robert Veres, a member of the surgical team, held a news conference with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo on Monday.
"We can say that the immediate life-threatening condition has been averted, but a complication could make it life-threatening again," Veres said. "Currently, he is in a severe but not critical condition, and he is stable."
Veres confirmed Massa, 28, suffered eye damage when the nearly 2-pound spring struck the Brazilian's helmet. Veres said Massa showed evidence of brain swelling. Doctors had induced coma to aid the driver's recovery. But Monday, Massa was taken off a ventilator and was speaking and moving his limbs, doctors said. Massa's parents and his wife, Raffaela, flew from Brazil to be at his side. The couple is expecting their first child in November.
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) announced an investigation into the incident as well as that of a tire hitting Henry Surtees on the head during a Formula Two race in England the previous weekend. Surtees, 18, died of his injuries. Speculation holds that the Brawn GP spring glanced off the Ferrari F60's cockpit collar and into Massa's helmet. The height of the collar was raised last season to offer further protection to drivers.
"We don't know the quality of the damage," Veres said of Massa's left eye. The surgeon said it is too early to comment on the driver's future.
Di Montezemolo said his driver's condition is the team's foremost concern.
"For us, the first priority is to find out Felipe's recovery progress and situation," di Montezemolo said. "Felipe is a very important member of the Ferrari family, not just the Ferrari team. First priority now is to find out the situation with Felipe and then we will see and we will think, without pressure. Only at that moment will we make a decision. And if we have to take a decision, we will make a good decision."
Team principal Stefano Domenicali dedicated Kimi Raikkonen's second-place finish in Sunday's race to Massa. Domenicali, Raikkonen, Barrichello and Brawn GP owner Ross Brawn visited the hospital Sunday where they spoke to Massa's doctor.
"He responded quite well to the doctor from Brazil," Barrichello told reporters. "He responded quite well to his father. Being a normal person who doesn't understand medicine, I asked the doctor if he will be all right and the doctor said yes."
Raikkonen said he was optimistic for his teammate's full recovery.
"It's a sad thing that's happened from a very unlucky situation," Raikkonen said. "But as long as we race with open cockpits, our heads are always the first place that's going to be hit if something is flying around. It is part of racing and we all know that.
"He's probably going to be a hundred percent fine in a little time. We in the team all hope he's going to be fine and come back soon."
In a news release announcing the safety investigation, the FIA said, "Preliminary findings suggest the helmet being used by Felipe Massa may have played a significant role in limiting the injuries sustained. The FIA 8860 helmet, which took eight years to develop by the FIA and the FIA Institute, provides increased protection in all key impact areas."
A blow to the head figured in the sport's most recent driver death, that of three-time world champion Ayrton Senna of Brazil in 1994. Helmets undergo tests including the dropping of an 8.8-pound spike onto the shell and the firing of 1-gram pellets into three points of the visor. The pellet test reaches firing velocities of up to 323 mph. Tests are performed on stationary helmets The conditions of Saturday's incident, that is, a nearly 2-pound object bouncing from the back of a moving vehicle and hitting helmet and visor at the speed Massa was traveling, are not covered by testing.
As concerns over driver safety revive, Brawn has cautioned that full and complete data must be gathered before decisions are taken.