There are now two Ferrari drivers working hard to make a comeback, both requiring clearance from medics before they can race again.
While Michael Schumacher has a date with the doctors with regard to his neck injury and the slightly more urgent deadline of a race on August 23rd, Felipe Massa has been discharged by doctors in Brazil and is beginning his recuperation at home in Sao Paolo, following his head injury during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix. His road to recovery will be longer.
Yesterday Massa’s doctor, Dino Altmann said, “Felipe has had a remarkable recovery. We did a series of in-depth tests and the outcome is very encouraging so that we, together with the hospital’s medical staff, decided that it wouldn’t be currently necessary to further intervene from a surgical point of view. The best thing for him now is to go back home, where he can calmly convalesce and rehabilitate.”
Massa walked out of hospital in Budapest and boarded the private jet back to Brazil by himself. “I’m feeling much better now and I want to recover as soon as possible to get back behind the wheel of a Ferrari, ” Massa said.
“I know exactly what happened, that a spring came off Rubens’ car and hit me on the helmet. I know that something happened to me, but I didn’t feel anything when it happened. They told me that I lost consciousness at the moment of the spring’s impact on my helmet and I ran into the barriers, then I woke up in hospital two days later. I don’t remember anything and that’s why what the doctors did had to be explained to me.”
As I posted on the Saturday night in Budapest, a leading London brain surgeon I spoke to said that if he had a patient who had gone through that kind of head trauma, he would think it very unlikely that he would clear him to race again within three months, not least in case he were to suffer another head injury on his comeback.
Racing drivers are remarkable human beings in that they can make themselves do things most normal people could not imagine. However the flip side of it is that the job is so physically demanding and so dangerous, no corners can be cut in deciding whether a driver is physically ready to be put back into the field.