Ferrari's Massa in 'life-threatening' state

Updated: July 26, 2009, 6:34 PM ET
Associated Press

BUDAPEST, Hungary -- Ferrari driver Felipe Massa remained in "life-threatening" but stable condition on Sunday following surgery on multiple skull fractures.

Peter Bazso, the AEK hospital medical director, told reporters that Massa would remain sedated until Monday, but will be woken up periodically during that time.

When asked whether Massa's life remained in danger, Bazso answered: "Yes, of course."

Bazso said doctors were able to "remove the broken bones and stabilize the area," which was necessary since Massa arrived with "an open skull fracture and a contusion."

He did not specify how long it would take Massa to recover, or whether there would be any long-term effects of the injury.

"At the moment, we have to overcome this life-threatening condition," Bazso said, adding that a CT scan revealed "expected results after an operation of this type."

Massa's parents and wife arrived after flying in from Brazil, and doctors woke Massa temporarily to check on his condition and so that he could see his family.

Team principal Stefano Domenicali and several Ferrari staff were also on hand to support Massa's family, which included pregnant wife Anna Rafaela.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo was scheduled to visit on Monday, while fellow Brazilian driver Rubens Barrichello was buoyed by the news he received from a doctor at the hospital when he visited after the Hungarian Grand Prix, although he didn't personally see Massa.

"For me I can leave it in peace because he's going to be fine," Barrichello said. "The improvements from yesterday were quite good and that most probably he's going to be OK."

At the Hungaroring circuit, Ferrari's garage displayed a banner reading "Forza Felipe Siamo Con Te" -- or "Be Strong Felipe, We Are With You."

"Yesterday was a quite sad day to not see Felipe with us today," said race winner Lewis Hamilton, who battled Massa for the 2008 championship. "We miss him and wish him well and wish him a speedy recovery."

The spring from Barrichello's Brawn GP car bounced into Massa's helmet as the 28-year-old driver reached speeds of about 120 mph. The impact concussed Massa, who then plowed into the protective tire barrier.

"That's the job we do. We don't want to get too carried away with it," Red Bull's Mark Webber said. "He'll be fine. We missed him on the grid but the show must go on."

The impact of the rear suspension part, believed to be made of steel, damaged the left side of Massa's helmet, ripping out the visor and leaving a long dent on its side. Blood was visible on Massa's left brow.

Barrichello said the incident weighed on his mind Sunday.

"I would be lying if in the middle of the race it didn't sometimes come to my mind. It's a friend," he said. "Not because the spring came from my car -- it could have come from any car so I'm not actually [blaming] myself for that."

The crash came less than a week after Henry Surtees, the son of former F1 champion John Surtees, died in similar circumstances in an F2 race last Sunday. Surtees was struck in the head by a tire from another car, causing him to lose consciousness and drive into a barrier.

FIA would investigate the crash, which is commonplace for the governing body.

"It was very unfortunate what happened. [But] we have phenomenal safety in Formula One," Webber said. "Yesterday was terrifically freakish."

No F1 driver has died on the track since Ayrton Senna's crash at Imola 15 years ago. The three-time champion died from head injuries after a violent crash.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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