Ferrari Formula One driver Felipe Massa, his bruised and swollen left eye giving him the look of a championship boxer, left AEK Hospital in Budapest, Hungary, on Monday to fly home to Sao Paulo, Brazil. He walked to and boarded a private jet on ...
Ferrari Formula One driver Felipe Massa, his bruised and swollen left eye giving him the look of a championship boxer, left AEK Hospital in Budapest, Hungary, on Monday to fly home to Sao Paulo, Brazil. He walked to and boarded a private jet on which to make his return.
Before he left his residence of the past 10 days, where he was taken after suffering a life-threatening, high-speed crash in qualifying for the Grand Prix of Hungary, Massa videotaped an interview with his team that was posted at ferrari.com. His previous such interview detailed the athletic training of a Formula One driver.
This time, he addressed the crash, thanked his doctors, discussed his recovery, described his wishes upon returning to Brazil, and considered what advice he would give his replacement driver, seven-time world titlist Michael Schumacher. Schumacher is coming out of retirement to replace last year's world championship runner-up.
"It's difficult to explain what's happened," Massa said. "I know now what happened. Everybody knows. Everybody saw. For me, it's a little more difficult to explain, but it's very strange. But anyway, now I'm very happy. I'm in a good position to improve myself, to go back to the car, to drive. And we'll see how long it is going to take, but I hope it will be very quick."
He said he remembers nothing of the crash, only that his race engineer, Rob Smedley, asked if he remembered countryman Rubens Barrichello. That prompt helped him recall that he was following Barrichello in the second of three qualifying sessions, but nothing else. Massa is blank on being hit on the head with a 800-gram (nearly two-pound) spring that fell from the back of Barrichello's Brawn GP. The Ferrari driver blacked out immediately, his feet landing on brake and accelerator pedals simultaneously, and the F60 shot off the track and into a tire barrier. The incident fractured his skull.
He said he would first thank "all the doctors."
"They did a very, very good job," he said. "Everybody at the track. Everybody at the hospital. I thank everybody who prayed for me. It's very, very important.
"I know so many messages we are receiving fom all around the world, from Formula One, from people who don't even watch Formula One, from people, which, you know, they were just watching that, following a lap or whatever, then they pray. So I just say 'thank you' because I would do the same."
He said he was eager to return home.
"I want to be at home," he said. "I want to go to my house to see that I still have the same house and to see that, you know, things are still the same."
He smiled at the thought of giving racing advice to Schumacher.
"Well, I mean, I think, first of all, I raced with Michael," Massa said. "He gave me a lot of good advice in my professional drive. So to be honest, Michael knows everything he needs to do. I'm sure Michael will do a very, very good job with my car. I'm not in the position to say something to him, for sure. Michael knows exactly what he has to do."
Massa spent the 2003 season test-driving for Ferrari, and then joined the team as race driver in 2006, partnering the soon-to-retire Schumacher. No time frame has been given for Massa's return to driving. He is expected to miss the remaining seven races of the season.
The sport is under a testing ban, which Ferrari appealed to teams to lift temporarily to allow Schumacher time to adjust to the F60. Every team needs to agree. Williams F1 cited a lack of testing for Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari, who replaced Sebastien Bourdais at the Grand Prix of Hungary. Alguersuari, 19, coped, the English team argued, so can Schumacher.
"Williams sees no distinction between Alguersuari's situation and Schumacher's and feels any deviation from the rule would create a precedent for the future," the team said in a statement.
Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten reported Red Bull teams owner Dieter Mateschitz also cited the Alguersuari example, and indicated that other teams had not agreed to allow Alguersuari to test prior to the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Schumacher drove a 2007 Ferrari owned by Ferrari's Corse Clienti division at the team's test track in Mugello, Italy, on Friday. The car was fitted with slick tires, reportedly from the GP2 series, to make the experience more closely resemble current conditions.