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The latest from the track on Massa
The latest from the track on Massa
Posted By: James Allen  |  25 Jul 2009   |  9:18 pm GMT  |  63 comments

Felipe Massa has been operated on this evening and is now in an induced coma in the AEK Hospital in Budapest.

An inaccurate report from AP this evening suggested that his condition was life threatening but this is not the case. The operation was successful and he is likely to be woken tomorrow.

Medical estimates of how long he will be out of action vary from two months, to longer. It has been suggested by one doctor here that he may miss the rest of the season. More will be known when the medically induced coma ends and the medics can assess the amount of bruising to the front of the brain.

The 28 year old was hit in the head by a spring which had fallen from the rear suspension of Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn car. He was on a lap heading back to the pits and was four seconds behind Barrichello on the road, when the spring became detached. It bounced down the road for four seconds and hit Massa in the head. He was briefly knocked unconscious and his feet went onto the brake and throttle simultaneously.

The data says that he applied 60bar of pressure to the brake, which is the equivalent of laying his foot on it gently, while the throttle was effectively jammed on.

Ross Brawn tonight explained that the spring was from the third damper and is made of steel and weighs around a kilogramme.

“The damper is still attached but the cap had come off and the spring escaped,” said Brawn. “I don’t know the full details but it was a freak accident.”

Brawn replaced the spring on Jenson Button’s car just in case, but Brawn said that this did not affect the balance of the car for Button’s final qualifying run.

He said that he had never experienced a spring detaching itself in all his years in F1 engineering. He added that he thought that the work done on making helmets safer had been ‘essential’ in this situation.

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I really wish massa the best , if he’s unable to return F1 will lose a legend.


I just hope Felipe can recover enough to live a happy normal life with his wife and unborn child. If his mental status and site are 100% and he can race again… it is just a bonus. Forza Felipe. Our thoughts are with you.


I hope Massa takes the opportunity to retire from F1. I’m a fan of his but the injury he incurred is nothing to mess with. He’s been great to watch since his debutant days in 2002 to his near championship 2008. He’s got a son on the way and should be glad he’s still around to see him grow up.


Top priority. Develop a much stronger helmet design. It’s impossible to predict freak accidents. But with Felipe’s incident one can act immediately. Then what a bout Henry Surtees situation?


Best wishes from the USA for a full and speedy recovery, Felipe.


Whilst everyone wishes Massa a full recovery. I think there is already an air of “hand wringing” gathering pace about the presumed (incorrectly) lack of safety in modern F1.

There are already a few voices calling for full fighter jet style Canopies (a burning inverted car would be interesting for marshalls or the condensation that would happen during wet races would be impossible!) Or that Schuberth helmets are in some way not as strong as they “could be” Which is just insulting to everyone.

As DC often reminds us, motor racing is dangerous. All safety improvements should be welcomed, but nothing should be done as a knee jerk reaction IMO.

Surtees accident was just as much of a wrong place, wrong time as yesterdays events, but people forget that neither are exactly common place in the millions of single seater laps done every year in every championship around the world.

On a related note, I’m disappointed by the lack of simple honest facts about Felippes condition. Seems the various news media want to whip it up into some kind of hysteria!


The worlds best Orthopedic Surgeon Dr Gerard Saillant is arriving in Budapest as we speak supplied by the French Government. He has worked with athletes like Schumacher and Ronaldo and is an expert in sport injuries.


Get well soon, Felipe!

Since Masse seems to be out of imminent danger, the thing I fear the most now is that we will find out that Brawn, having, as someone has said, the most expensive car with the lowest operating budget, overused some parts of their car in order to save money.

What a season this is: Honda leaves, Brawn wins, diffusor row, McLaren lies, the Mosley wars, Bernie talks about history, Massa accident,what will be next….


Wow, even had trouble getting on the site last night there were so many worried people looking for an accurate report. How unlucky for poor Felipe, chaotic and unfortunate to say the least. Nice work to the Ferrari boffins for making the front end so robust as well. Was shocked to see how much of the thing was left over.


Best wishes to Felipe. Thanks for the update James.


How ironic is this accident for Massa when at the start of the race he was apprehensive of rookie Jamie Alguersuari’s debut


Felipe seems to have been extremely lucky in terms of it appears the spring struck mostly, and its impact been largely absorbed by his helmet; the eye damage looks to be collateral. Not good of course but immeasurably better than if the object had hit him square in the visor (shudder to think).

At first appearance the object appears to be speeding towards Massa, but it is most likely that the spring, having broken free of the Brawn was actually bouncing / travelling in the same direction as Massa but at a considerably reduced speed. Massa’s closing speed (suggested 175 MPH) and the object’s diminishing speed (maybe 50-75 MPH) would however still be a very significant impact.

Please, let’s not yet talk about who is going to take (hopefully temporarily) Felipe’s still warm seat at Ferrari. Let’s rather focus all our energies, thoughts and prayers for a full and complete recovery for a man we have all grown to admire so much.


Actually it is life threatening. The bleeding in the brain can happen suddenly and very quickly and demands that he be kept under observation. As does any swelling of the brain. They don’t induce a coma just for giggles. Thank goodness for the high spec helmets & visors. But also thanks for the HANS device as well. If you watch the videos, Felipe’s head snaps forward when the car plows into the tire barrier. Damage to his neck and head were prevented by that great lifesaver.

Get well soon Felipe, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. We pray you will recover fully and quickly. You are a great person and a credit to the sport.

Ken in Sparta, Wisconsin, USA


Best wishes to Felipe and the Massa family. I keep having that image of his extremely likable father during the final lap of Interlagos last year.

And given what has happened, there if even less chance of a Michael return than there would have been 2 weeks ago.


All Russian fans wish Massa fast recovery, good health and start drive Ferrari again

Sian James (Telford)

Thanks James, Massa is my favourite driver and these news reports have been really worrying me, its good to hear that some of those reports were not true, I do hope he is okay and that he recovers well.

Get well soon Felipe!


James, thanks for the update. What a frightening

accident, and how horrible must Rubens feel that

it was his car that caused the injury. I wish

Massa a fast and complete recovery.


I hope Massa recovers. He is certainly on of the most likable F1 drivers. Is anyone talking about his replacement? Surely it is being discussed. Badoer, Gene, Bordais, Wurz, Michael?


I am so glad to hear this report contradicting gloomy ones from earlier today. Massa is such a nice guy, and I wish him all the best. Hopes and prayers are with you Felipe. May you have a wonderful recovery.


James, thanks for the reliable update. Been worrying about Felipes health all day, and nice to know that what I’m reading isnt sensationalised and is actually truth. Keep up the good work, and I hope to hear you commentating again soon!

Thomas, Canada

The events of the past week have reminded all that motorsport remains extremely dangerous.

If Massa is out for as long as you suggest James, who do you see as his replacement? The name on everyone’s lips is of course “Schumacher”!

Lance Armstrong has made an incredible return to the Tour de France, so surely Schumacher could do the same in F1. What do you think James? He certainly wouldn’t be the first driver to come back after a number of years away.


yeah, except Schumacher is still all bust up from trashing bikes from what I’ve read.

re Massa, it’s a credit to modern helmets

that you can even survive an accident like this.

when you look at the onboard footage its really a horrific impact, I hope you’re right James and some of the other ‘trusted’ reports I’ve read this morning are wrong about the severity of his injuries.


Compared to the news earlier, it would appear Felipe Massa is not a badly hurt as some reports suggested. Even so, I will only believe it when I see him under his own steam and in the Ferrari.


It’s always gut-wrenching to see a motionless driver/rider.

After last week at Brands, this is another stark reminder to us all that these guys constantly put their lives on the line, all in the name of entertainment.

I’ll always be in awe of everyone of them.(even the teenage ones).

Thoughts and best wishes for Felipe and fam.


Since MS was forced out, Felipe is the only reason I watch F1. I just couldn’t believe my eyes when SPEED showed the replays.

It’s so fortunate he was able to apply to some brake as hitting that tire wall at full speed would’ve been devastating.

I wish Felipe the best and hope he’s ok. F1 will not be the same in his absence. One classy guy I do not want to see leave the sport.


Yeh james….nice one lad.Allways keeps us up todate with whats going on….James is like metalgearsolid,moving round the paddock in his stealth suit,gathering all the intelligence…..Keep up the good work snake!!!


You should understand that the induced coma is to minimize brain swelling, which is actually quite life threatening. Even when the patient survives, this sort of injury not uncommonly results in some impairment of brain function which is permanent. Felipe needs everyone’s prayers…recovery from an injury like this can be a very large hill to climb.


it’s good to hear a positive report. but with all due respect anyone in an induced coma following a basal skull fracture is in no way guaranteed to be “ok”. i don’t know if the coma was induced due to the surgery to repair his skull, or as a treatment for intracranial pressure. but either way the report that he’s in a life threatening situation to me seems quite accurate, and will continue to be accurate for a day or two at least, regardless of how well treatment has gone or how well he seems to be doing. that’s just the nature of a severe head injury.


I totally agree with your analysis J.S and you too Jeb. As I said in another post Natasha Richardson died from a blood clot inflicted by concussion to her brain suffered in a skying fall which happened at a speed much much lower that the impact of Massa’s accident. Initially she looked OK and sadly died a few days later because her condition was not treated in time. Felipe’s accident happened at very high speed so the concussion he suffered must be very important.

Luckily he has been treated immediately by doctors fully aware of such risk. As far as we can tell from the medical reports they took the measures you need to take (ie:induced coma) to put the injured person in a position to recover from such “potentially” life threatening situation. As the medical report never mentioned injury to his eye we can assume I suppose that Felipe is OK on that front which in itself is a big big relief. His Helmet did a fantastic job. Full mark to the FIA and manufacturers for that.


Mr. Allen,

On your “About Blog” page you invite us to feel free to send you a note, but you don’t give us a contact. I may want to send you a note, but not a comment on a particular article you’ve written. Any other option?



Send it to the reply email address here


This sounds very bad indeed. 🙁 Doctors do not report injuries that are not life threatening. For example, they won’t even bother looking at a damaged eye usually if a person has suffered more serious life-threatening injuries first. Very bad news indeed. My thoughts are with Felipe and his family and that he makes a speedy and full recovery, although he’ll be out for the rest of the season, I think.


Thanks for the update James…and ignoring the sensationalism that some other outlets and parts of the blogosphere have descended into.

Will keep an eye out for an update from you tomorrow morning – here’s hoping it’s positive!


Good positive news then. Great reports on this blog regarding whats happened especially with all the rumours and inaccurate reports.

Very impressed with information on here….


Incredible that Massa survived this. I maybe wrong in thinking this, but the Helmet effectively took the force of a 300mph impact (assuming that the Helemt was fixed in one place)?

Massa was doing approximatly 175mph and the spring was travelling at approximately 125mph towards Massa. That is quite some force, and yet the helmet withstood much of the impact.

Makes me feel a lot safer when I’m karting!


Take a look at the back issues of F1 Racing Magazine. They shows in graphic detail the testing that F1 helmets are put through. Glad to see that the testing appears to have worked. Yes, Massa has serious injuries, but I hate to think how bad they could have been. I just wish the reporting could have been more accurate.

Get Well soon Massa!


Good work JA, as usual you are the most reliable website for factual information on F1..

Unlike the EJit on BBC1 who claimed “his source” said Massa has a knock to the chin …

DC was’nt buying it for one ….


Thanks for the non-sensationalist update, James. Thoughts and prayers with Felipe and his family. Look forward to seeing Felipe back in action soon.


Thanks so much for your information. I will keep praying for Felipe and his family. Please post as soon as you hear anything else!


Hey, I only heard the news about Massa now – omg – hope Massa makes a full recovery as quickly as possibly!


Glad it’s all turning out to be relatively okay for poor Massa. He just was at the Wrong place, at the Wrong time. hopefully, he’ll be able to make a full recovery.

Thanks for the updates.


“the throttle was effectively jammed on”

Massa must be wired for speed. He is unconscious and he still tried to go flat out…

Very happy to hear is doing ok.


Strange, aren’t AP reports usually very reliable?

Anyway, excellent news. Thanks for letting us know


Even BBC World News was reporting this as a “tragedy” until less than an hour ago, and here was me thinking if he’s back in a race car in a few weeks where’s the tragedy? Have a word with someone!

George O'Donnell

Fantastic news. In light of what happened to Henry Surtees, Felipe is very fortunate to escape with his life.


Actually, AP is right, Ferrari is wrong.

The Hungarian doctor did describe his condition as “life threatening” but “stable”.

It’s certainly understandable that Ferrari doesn’t like to hear this. It doesn’t mean that Ferrari’s press quote trumps the direct words of Massa’s doctor.


Being in an induced coma does not sound like good news. For example Alex Zanardi was in an induced coma post his accident that cost him his legs. It’s done because the Dr. feels he would be distressed if awake. The facial trauma did not seem worthy of such hush sedation. I would think it for the trauma to his brain from the second impact. I hate to suggest such doom and gloom but immediate surgery and coma don’t sound like a patient that’s in good or even stable condition. If he is stable why the heavy sedation.
I really hope I’m wrong but every person I’ve seem with altered mental status post head trauma, and then taken immediately to surgery had a serious and potentially life threatening injury, usually a bleed and the surgery done to alleviate pressure etc.


been looking all over the net for an update, this is the most precise and detailed, so thanks! miss you from the F1 commentary as well


Thanks for the detailed info, James. Here’s hoping Felipe makes the swiftest and fullest possible recovery.


I just read that the ‘condition was life threatening’ on a news website. I’m so I’m glad to hear it’s not true. Thanks James.

My thoughts and prayers are with Massa tonight!


Very scary.

Get well soon Massa.


Thanks for the accurate and comprehensive reporting James.

Hope Massa recovers soon and the injury is not too bad.

Will Ferrari field only one car tomorrow or will a reserve driver take Massa’s position?


So glad to hear some positive news about Massa, I’ve been watching the news for updates all night


So glad that those reports weren’t accurate. I’d be devastated if anything worse happened to Felipe (and, indeed, any of the other F1 drivers). Thank you for keeping us up-to-date, James, it’s greatly appreciated right now. 🙂


Thanks James. Like Gary said other sites have been reporting alot of scary stuff. We should still pray for him and his family, if not, why not listen to your favourite song and think of him.


This is welcome news. Over the past hour some media outlets have been making some deeply disturbing claims about his health. I think you should take credit for causing them to back pedal from their sensationalist reporting.


Thank you for finally giving us some truthfull news- just seen massa helmet / shot, i hope his left eye is ok…it didnt look good ! all the best Massa on your recovery


The hospital reported he had sustained two seperate fracturing injuries to the skull, one to the forehead and one at the base of the skull.. sounds pretty life threatening to me. Very very scary incident.

How could you not warm to Felipe, genuinely one of the more likable human beings in the

F1 circus.


I agree Mike, with both points.

James has been a little irresponsible in his account by calling the report from the hospital inaccurate. Massa’s injuries are life threatening and we shouldn’t gloss over this reality.

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