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A victory of sorts for Felipe Massa
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A victory of sorts for Felipe Massa
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Oct 2009   |  6:07 pm GMT  |  35 comments

Today Felipe Massa did his first laps in a Formula 1 car since the horrific accident in July, which threatened his career.

Photo: Ferrari

Photo: Ferrari


The Brazilian drove a privately owned 2007 car, fitted with Bridgestone GP2 tyres and covered 100kms on the team’s Fiorano test track, next to the factory in Maranello. He will do more laps tomorrow.

Ferrari described it as ‘not a proper test’, rather as ‘a way to regain confidence with his natural habitat; the racetrack.’

But Massa’s return is a victory in itself. He has overcome a savage accident which had the potential not only to destroy his career but to kill him and he has beaten the doubts, which must have plagued him as he emerged from his induced coma following surgery. He has proved that he will be back at 100% next season. It is another fantastic example from sport of the triumph of the human will over adversity.

He was hit in the head with a metal spring which was travelling towards him as he drove along at over 120mph.

“The moment I got into the car it was exactly like before the accident, as if nothing had happened,” he said. ”It was important to demonstrate to the people who work with me, that nothing has changed, that I can be competitive and that I can contribute to what will be the new car and to next year’s fight for the title.”

“I knew that everything was alright 95%, but after today I can even cancel the last 5% of doubt, I still might have had.”

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35 Comments
  1. Oliver Drew says:

    It is a victory for Massa and it is fantastic that he’s back on track and looking good.

    But it will be just as important a day when he takes to the track with a full field of F1 cars – he can’t have a repeat of his accident when he’s the only car on the track right? So whilst this is a great piece of info with regards to his health, that first 2010 test session that he takes part in will be critical too.

    I look forward to watching a 100% well Felipe Massa at Bahrain next year.

  2. Phill says:

    Massa to me was a driver who simply drove with the heart and passion for his team and country. Those were his only attributes.

    He can now add determination, guts, bravery and courage.

  3. Paul H-E says:

    That’s brilliant news! I’m delighted for Felipe.

    I felt he conducted himself with admirable dignity and sportsmanship when he must have felt crushing disappointment losing the title to Lewis Hamilton at the final race of last year. I’m sure that this must have played a part in Ferrari’s loyalty to him.

    I’m a hospital neuroradiographer, so I know what a fantastic recovery Massa is making. I’m very pleased that he is recovering so well from his injuries , and that he will have the opportunity to try again next year.

  4. Greg Jones says:

    What great news for Massa and the sport as a whole,
    fantastic to hear his confidence has been restored!
    It is only a shame that due to current F1 regulations
    force drivers to test in seasons previous cars! Could
    This itself be considered a safety issue?

  5. sian james says:

    It’s such a wonderful comeback story so far, I really hope he can finish it in style by winning the championship next year. :D

  6. P Byrne says:

    Massa hasn’t developed a shock of grey hair close to the injury, has he? Or do my eyes deceive me?

    Sounds very positive, couldn’t hope for better so far.

    It’ll be interesting to see the dynamic between him and Alonso next year. I read his most recent comments about Singapore last year and he specifically mentions FA and the injustice of the Spaniard being allowed keep the victory…

    1. " for sure " says:

      It will end in tears, with Teflonso once again throwing his toys out of the car. I can’t wait.

      Well done Felipe, every best wish for 2010.

  7. Chetz says:

    James… cud u explain privately owned F2007 ??

    1. Jiri says:

      Ferrari are used to sell two years old or older F1 cars to rich collectors, enthusiastics etc… they own the car while Ferrari offer assistance in running the car through their F1 Clienti division.

    2. Myles Woerner says:

      Ferrari has what it calls its “Clienti” program, in which individuals can purchase previous Ferrari F1 cars. In this case, Ferrari used one of the cars from its “clienti” program to let Massa drive.

      1. Chetz says:

        Why use one from the Clienti program? Dont they have their own back at Maranello??

  8. Hugo says:

    Like it or not the accident will always be attached to him if he is slower than Alonso next year, ppl will say that the accident has affected him somehow.

  9. Jason C says:

    Good on him; that’s an amazing achievement regardless of whether he’s competitive next year or not.

  10. John says:

    A private test in less than ideal conditions with no chance of racing again this season. Why? If he is not fully fit to race, then surely, following such serious head injuries, any test in an F1 car at speed is an unacceptable risk; should the unthinkable happen again. Better to be fully fit and get into next year’s machinery in January instead of today’s publicity stunt.

    1. John says:

      I think ferrari wanted to get an idea of where Massa is and whether they should start to consider looking at other drivers if Massa couldn’t cut. Also, it’s good for Massa’s confidence to get back in an F1 car now, rather than wait for a few more months and be even rustier.

  11. Chris says:

    I really hope that i’m wrong but I can’t see Massa coming back as the same racer that he was after a serious accident where lets face it 10 years ago probably would have killed him. He’s also just about to become a Dad and that changes your whole outlook on everything, Just ask Mika Hakkinan. 2 world championships,had his fare share of accidents, becomes a dad and then without warning parks his car before each corner and walks it round so Mclaren got on the phone to Kimi.
    I really do hope I’m wrong but can’t help but think Ferrari have Kubica as the first name in the rollerdex if things don’t work out.

    1. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

      Hakkinen told Dennis before the 2001 season that he planned to take a hiatus in 2002. He said he wanted to win the US and British Grands Prix, since he hadn’t won them before, and he did just that. The hiatus in 2002 became a retirement.

      I think it’s clear that Kubica wants the Ferrari drive. He’s said openly many times that his goal is to drive for Ferrari. Reportedly, he and Ferrari also talked about him filling in for Massa this year. So the two are clearly “in touch.”

      On top of it all, Kubica is also only guaranteed for a year at Renault, according to some reports. Conveniently, Massa’s contract expires after 2010. Clearly, he’s got his eye on Massa’s seat.

      But clearly, the guy who Ferrari, McLaren, and everyone else REALLY wants is Vettel. There was a report on PlanetF1 around the time that Vettel extended with Red Bull that Ferrari, McLaren, Brawn, and Toyota all approached him with an offer for a race seat starting in 2011.

      1. Chris says:

        It’s like you managed to read my mind.

    2. Patrickl says:

      Hakkinen suffered a similar skull injury when he crashed in Adelaide in 1995. I think he recovered pretty well from that with his two WDC’s a few years later.

      1. jose says:

        mika recovered well, but other drivers were not the same after big accidents. Piquet and berger both had big accidents in tamburello, and were not the same afterwards. Piquet got his third title after the accident, but was never as fast as his team mate mansell. So i guess it all depends on the driver.

      2. Chris says:

        He wasn’t a dad when he had his accident.

  12. Adam Tate says:

    This is the best news F1 could get!!!! Hooray for Massa being okay.

  13. Dom says:

    It’s great to hear that Felipe is back in an F1 car. A big victory and I’m sure it will make him more determined than ever to deliver his true potential – and given how he’s developed as an F1 driver from his early Sauber days to beating both Schumacher and Raikonnen in the same car, I think the next couple of seasons will be very interesting indeed.

  14. Laurence H says:

    “He has proved that he will be back at 100% next season.”

    It’s a bit premature to say that, is it not? It was hardly a ‘heat of batle’ situation.

    I wish him all the best though.

  15. Chuck says:

    Bravissimo Felipe!

  16. Harveyeight says:

    I’m with Paul H-E. Massa was impressive in the way he dealt with the disappointment of last season.

    A touch with mortality can slow a driver. Mind you, it is probably the better alternative to what we have seen before, when after surviving a serious crash it seems as if they feel they are immortal.

    He is in for a testing season next year and my worry is not so much that he might use the accident as an excuse for poor performance as that others might.

    There is not room in Ferrari, nor any team for that matter, for two massive egos and if ever there was a chance of a positive partnership between F1 drivers then I can’t help but think this is it. I wonder, though, if there is room for two drivers of equal ability.

    For me he was the revelation of 2008, a driver I completely misjudged. I would love him to prove just how wrong I was in 2010.

  17. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

    Glad to see Massa back on it. I hope he really has a good go at Alonso next year.

  18. Paul Mc says:

    Great to see Massa back at the wheel of an F1 car. Massa will want to prove all the doubters wrong next year. I expect to see a different Massa in 2010, a more ruthless one.

  19. Phil Bishop says:

    Awesome news, another step in Felipe’s recovery. I wish him well for the rest of the journey.

  20. Mon Pen says:

    I am delighted to see Massa back on track.

    However this raises a HUGE question about what is and isn’t “testing”. Who’s to say Ferrari aren’t sneaking a few new parts on to the car here, gathering data there, I smell a rat. Apart from the fact they don’t own their own test tracks, how come none of the other teams do this?

    Clarification would be appreciated.

    1. rossetto says:

      You smell rat because you do not know better.
      All the equipment used for this session has been approved by the FIA and it has been written all over the web.
      Then how could parts been tested on a 2 years old chassis, with a different engines and tires that are not even used in f1, since they are running the car with GP2 tires?

      Also others team do have customers clients cars programs.

  21. Alastair says:

    I know everyones pouring praise on the guy, and I’m happy that he’s recovering, but I’ve never rated him as a driver, and correct me if I’m wrong but he’s only ever won from the front row. Dont rate him. He’ll be a clear No2 to Alonso, if indeed he returns at all.

    Dont mean to sound harsh, and I’m pleased he’s recovering, but I’m not going to change my view that he’s overrated.

    1. John says:

      The fact he has never won off the front row is irrelevant because Hungary 2008 proved he Can do it.

      Like vettel before silverstone, people still knew he could win in the dry.

      as for the no2, well, we will see next year.

  22. Amanda says:

    Consider yourself proven wrong already, 100 Km is no small feat.

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