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Doctor says Massa improving

7/28/2009 - Formula 1

BUDAPEST, Hungary -- Felipe Massa's doctor says the driver is increasingly alert and answering questions in three languages, and the head of the Ferrari team is encouraged about the possibility of the Brazilian returning to the track.

The 28-year-old driver was hit in the helmet by a loose part from another car and crashed into a tire barrier at 120 mph during qualifying Saturday at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

He is recuperating from surgery on multiple skull fractures, and doctors say he could be released as early as next week.

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali visited Massa and his family in the hospital. Domenicali said the recovery would be a "step by step" process but sounded optimistic about Massa racing again.

"As soon as he will be back, that is his car," Domenicali said outside the hospital. "For me it was incredible to see a fantastic improvement after just three days."

Family doctor Dino Altman on Tuesday described the racer as "more alert than he was before" and "improving continuously," adding that Massa was responding to questions in three languages.

Altman gave assurances about Massa's vision in his left eye, which was injured in the accident.

"Yes, he can see with his left eye," Altman said. "He knows what's right and left so his left eye has no problems. His eyesight is OK."

Doctors said Massa was awake and breathing unassisted, able to move his limbs and having brief conversations with family members and the medical staff.

Peter Bazso, medical director of the AEK hospital, said his condition could still deteriorate, but that risk is "diminishing day by day." Bazso added it was possible to fully recover from such injuries.

Former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt also visited Massa on Tuesday, a day after the driver's condition improved significantly.

F1's governing body is investigating the accident. Todt is a candidate to become president of the organization when Max Mosley steps down in October.

Meanwhile, a representative for Michael Schumacher says the seven-time Formula One champion would consider coming out of retirement if Ferrari asked him to drive for Massa. Doctors say Massa will not race again this season.

Spokeswoman Sabine Kehm told the German news agency DPA on Tuesday that "if Ferrari approaches Michael, he would think about it."

Schumacher holds nearly every record in Formula One and retired after the 2006 season. Manager Willi Weber said after the Hungarian Grand Prix that Schumacher had no intention of returning.