Confusion over Felipe Massa’s condition following “life threatening” injury claim

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Massa's condition is described as 'serious but stable'

Contradictory reports of Felipe Massa’s condition following his crash in qualifying today are causing a lot of confusion.

I’ve tried to collect some of the reports below in an effort to make sense of them and give as clear a picture as possible of what’s going on:

Rubens Barrichelo via Twitter, 7:10pm on Sunday:

Good news.Felipe had a good night and react ok when he saw his parents.For a better recovery they will keep him asleep

Jonathan Noble via Twitter, 11:24am Sunday:

Hospital officials say Felipe Massa will be kept in an artifical coma for the next 48 hours to help his recovery

Ferrari press release, 10am Sunday:

After undergoing an operation yesterday afternoon, Felipe Massa’s condition remains stable and there were no further complications through the night. He will be given another CT scan today, which will provide more precise information.

Post on, apparently coming via Rob Smedley’s wife Lucy, 9:45am Sunday:

OK folks….just spoken to Lucy on the phone….have to be careful what information I impart as I don’t want to get her in trouble with Ferrari. However….

The situation is not as grave as some news reports are making out, yes it is serious, but all the reports coming back from the hospital are extremely positive. At this stage it is hoped and believed he will make a full recovery.

Felipe was brought out of the induced coma this morning and was very confused, he has now been put back into the induced coma so they can carry out the necessary scans, his family will have just arrived this morning from Brazil and will be with him at the hospital now.

Obviously I have to be careful what I say, but all the signs from Lucy is that things are not as bad as some news reports are leading us to believe, and it is expected Felipe will be ok.

Jonathan Noble via Twitter, 8:43am Sunday:

Doctors are optimistic Massa will make a recovery from his injuries, although firm news will come only after tests

BBC News, 9:32pm:

The Associated Press news agency quoted a hospital spokesman as saying Massa’s condition was “life-threatening”. But Ferrari denied the reports, insisting the operation was “positive”.

Rubens Barrichello on Twitter, 9:01pm:

I just came back from the hospital.Felipe went trough a cirurgy which went very well.Now he is asleep waiting for a new scan tomorrow

James Allen on Twitter, 8:19pm:

Ignore reports on Sky/AP that Massa is in life threatening condition. He’s stable after an op and will be okay. Long recuperation though


Massa – who drives for Ferrari – was airlifted to hospital in Budapest where officials said he is in a “life-threatening but stable” condition after an operation on a skull fracture.

Several people are questioning the accuracy of the Sky story, similar versions of which have appeared on Planet F1, Yahoo, AP and others. Sky seem to have removed it from their F1 home page now.

If you have any further updates on the story please post them below or share them with me via Twitter.

All times BST

Other questions people are asking

Will Ferrari be able to field a third driver in tomorrow’s race? Not as I understand – see this article for more on the rules regarding driver changes at races.

Who will Ferrari use to replace Massa if he cannot race later this season? It looks like Massa will have a long recuperation. They could use either of their third drivers – Luca Badoer or Marc Gene, both of which have F1 experience. But they are not limited to just those drivers – they could use someone else.

What did Massa hit? According to Ross Brawn it was a spring from Barrichello’s car weighing around 800g.

If you have any further updates on the story please post them below or share them with me via Twitter.

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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143 comments on “Confusion over Felipe Massa’s condition following “life threatening” injury claim”

  1. Excellent updates on F1Fanatic. Hats off to you, Keith.

    Lets hope, Felipe recovers soon.

    1. A concerning story from the Associated Press:

      “The Hungarian department of Defense said that Massa would be kept in intensive care in the AEK military hospital, after an operation described as having been a success. Earlier in day, the officials in charge of the same hospital had said that the life of Massa was “threatened” , following the operation for the fracture to his skull. The officials in charge had said he would be kept under sedative treatment during the night, by respirator, in intensive care. The medical director Peter Bazso had then mentioned, in a press conference, that ” the condition of Massa is serious and his life is threatened, but his condition remains stable.” Bazso and the chief surgeon, Lajos Zsiros, said that they would wait to awake the pilot on Sunday. Masss was operated one hour after his arrival at the AEK hospital”

      This story can be read, in french, at

      It also shows a rather unpleasant close up picture of Massa just taken out of his car, and damage to his helmet caused by the spring.

      Our thoughts and prayers are with Felipe.

      1. That’s the same quote as in the Sky one described above I think.

    2. Massa, lucky to be alive, all the best for a speedy recovery

    3. look where it hit his helmet

      imagine it hit the visor, I doubt the visor would of stopped much…

  2. If PlanetF1 are reporting it’s life threatening then I’m no longer worried.

    1. I remember when PF1 used to be a good site. It’s so poor now that it’s about the tenth site on my list when I’m reading F1 news.

      Wasn’t it telling that they dumped the readers’ letter section! :)

      1. There are websites out there that are far More Accurate Than Planet-F1. ;) (see link in my username for those who don’t know already).

        1. Very off topic and insensitive to the current situation, but sorry, I cant resist making this comment:

 is hilarious. LMAO

        2. Nothing about Massa though

        3. How did I manage to miss that site before? Thanks Andy, I’ll be stopping by from now on! Lord knows I need a bit of a lift after all the scary stuff being bounced around last night.

    2. I just read on that a rear wing component fell off Barrichello’s car. In the same article it called the component the damper spring, as if the suspension and wing are the same.

  3. states the “serious but stable” version (21:54) adding that the medics said it will take 1 to 3 days to asses if there’s brain damage.

  4. Some stuff from James Allen that we just saw before his site fell over. He’s posting regularly on Twitter at jamesallenonf1. Here are his most recent Tweets:

    # #f1 Massa’s doctor reporting to Brazilian media that brain scan is clear and signs are positive. Family is en route to Hungary now 16 minutes ago from web

    # New blog post: The latest from the track on Massa 9 minutes ago from Twitter Tools

    # #f1 ignore reports on Sky/AP that Massa is in life threatening condition. He’s stable after an op and will be okay. Long recuperation thoughabout 2 hours ago from web

    # #f1 – Massa has been operated on successfully. Will stay in Intensive care overnight. Team says signs are good, he is okay

    His blog post that is currently inaccessible says roughly that Massa was subject of successful op, in medically induced coma, due to wake Sun, docs discussing recovery plan.

    Those present and in the know – ie JA and R Barrichello – seem positive, while not underestimating the seriousness of what happened.

    Let’s hope to goodness that events keep going in this direction.

    1. Thanks BoP!

      1. You’re very welcome :) Very happy to be the bearers of good news, hope it keeps coming.

  5. Thanks for the reassurance Keith… I was really starting to worry, but I’ll take Rubens’ and James’ word over the 24 hour networks trying to create headlines out of a nasty accident. I’m so relieved – Felipe is one of the real good guys of F1.

    One thing I am wondering about though… Rubens said that Brawn knew there was a problem with the rear of the car from the start of qualifying. Could they be in trouble for continuing to run?

    1. carol treurnicht
      25th July 2009, 22:00

      I don’t think so- why they also held up Button’s car in Q3 to make sure it was safe.
      It will obviously have to be investigated though.

    2. Just that they knew the rear of the car was not acting predictably and couldn’t find the reason why. So its my guess the spring mounting was about to fail and went unnoticed.

  6. Robert McKay
    25th July 2009, 21:56

    I think Joe Saward’s latest article sums it up.

    By definition such an injury is life-threatening, particularly if complications arise – but that does not mean that it is not treatable and it is not a given that those complications indeed arose with Massa.

    The medically-induced coma is standard procedure for such an injury, it seems.

    In essence I think the use of the word “life-threatening” unintentionally propelled the story forwards considerably more than perhaps should have been the case.

    I am hopeful that things look a fair bit brighter than seemed an hour or two ago.

    1. Precisely.
      Any bleeding taking place within the skull if not handled quickly and delicately can lead to pressure on the brain and could be fatal. So even if its not very serious initially it can become serious in very little time.

  7. carol treurnicht
    25th July 2009, 21:58

    German sites are reporting that his op was successful and that they have put him in a medical coma but will wake him tomorrow to asess things further. No lasting damage is expected but no-one can say at this stage how long he will be out for.
    Ferrari will be issuing a statement late tomorrow morning.

  8. Superb updates, really hope Massa makes fullest possible recovery.

  9. this is better news. it was looking a bit grim about an hour ago.

  10. It looks like the Beeb and Sky were both using the same Associated Press report as a source.

    Sky went with AP’s spin, the BBC unspun it. I think AP went with the most shocking angle, namely that the injury/situation was life-threatening and played down the ‘less interesting’ angle that he was stable.

    Sky weren’t wrong, in that if it was the only report you saw it was accurate enough – Massa’s life *was* threatened.

    But if you’re like all of us wanting updates and a sense of how the situation is developing then Sky is misleading and the BBC is the one to trust – Sky went with the biggest angle, the BBC with the most recent.

    1. that sums up Sky pretty well.

  11. I’ve had a similar incident to Massa’s. It will be a long recovery, although of course he’s a bit fitter than I was ;) They’ll have him on anti-epileptics as a matter of standard procedure, which in turn won’t help his training and recovery though as these drugs can have very nasty side effects of making you dozy/sick/worse than that. At least they were successful in removing the bone fragments and any possible resulting blood clots.

    Strength and good luck to him and his family, including Ferrari.

  12. here in Brasil: He broke a bone in the forehead, small brain damage, went trhough surgery to take out pieces of the bone. He is into induced coma. Any other news, I post here.

    1. Thanks Marilia

  13. carol treurnicht
    25th July 2009, 22:07

    Just listened to the news on radio here- the confusion apparently comes from the hospital saying Felipe’s condition is life threateneing but stable, Ferrari statement is that he is in a medical coma and will be awoken tomorrow.
    Jeez-its just horrible.

  14. Wow, an 800 g heavy object hitting the helmet in that speed… Scary… :/

  15. Sky Sports have updated their article – Massa now in “stable, satisfactory condition.”,19528,12433_5453738,00.html

    Get well soon, Felipe!

  16. I think medically, Felipe’s condition would be “serious, but stable”.

    Under multiple translations (Hungarain to German/Spanish to English), “serious” might become “life-threatening”.

    Silly mistake, but a costly one!!!

  17. “Life-threatening but stable” isn’t really a term that is used very often. Is it possible that it is an error in translation, something that we would normally refer to as “serious but stable”? That would certainly explain the conflict between the “life-threatening” story and those that claim he is doing okay.

    1. Maybe it just means that for now he is stable, but potentially there are life-threatening injuries internally?

      They will take more tests tomorrow and i’m sure there will be a more accurate story on his situation :)

  18. This article from The Press Association makes more sense – his injuries were “life threatening” but his condition post surgery is “serious but stable”.

  19. Apparently it was a double skull fracture but he’s stable now.

  20. Can’t the reports both be true? Apparently they removed bone fragments from Massa’s head. That might have been life threatening, but the operation went well so he’s is now safe?

  21. I hope Massa’s OK, I like him and really want him to get well soon. I can’t, however, get a little nagging voice out of the back of my head asking “Wouldn’t it be fun speculating over who’ll replace him if he takes a race or two out?”

    I have everything in my head, from “Schuey could come out of retirement to wind everyone up”, to “Bring back Davidson/Mcnish/Khartikeyan (sorry for the duff spelling)” with a quick detour of “Whats Rossi’s schedule like?”

    I’m a terrible person :(

  22. carol treurnicht
    25th July 2009, 22:33

    I don’t think we will hear any more tonight- so guess we have to wait till they wake him tomorrow and then say something. Whatever they will not tell us the whole truth till after tomorrow’s race anyway.

  23. My mother, who has been a nurse for about 35 years, saw the accident when I showed her on Youtube. I showed her because I really wanted to know what the hospitals would do.
    I told her what his current conditions was and she said that it is very serious and life threatening (when she was working in Montreal she saw a silimar accident with several motorcyclists) and that he might not make it through the surgery, but that if he did, as long as they didn’t miss anything, that he would recover. But she said he would very likely not to make it back this season, if it all.
    He has made it through surgery and that is what is most important. We just have to wait and hope he can fully recover.

  24. carol treurnicht
    25th July 2009, 22:36

    thanks for that- confirms what I suspected that he will out for a while- if he comes back to F1 at all. I wish him all the best and to be honest who replaces him at the next race or wherever is the least of my concerns- it will probably be Badoer or Gene as official test/third drivers.

    1. The last time Ferrari needed to replace one of their normal pilots, they didn’t use Badoer (Salo temping for Schumacher, 1999). I don’t think Gene was at Ferrari at the time, but that suggests that they won’t use a third driver as a replacement.

      Hope Massa makes a full recovery; the sad thing is that if he does not, and Alonso does move to Ferrari next year, Kimi gets to retain his seat!

  25. AP quoted a statement from the Hungarian defence department as saying: “At the time he was admitted to hospital his condition was stable and he was breathing and blood circulation was normal.

    “During the course of his examination they established that he suffered a serious, life-threatening injuries including loss of consciousness and a fracture of the forehead on the left side and a fracture on the base of the skull.”

    BBC News

  26. Massas condition is stable says finnish F1 magazine. Ferrari is very uppset for Ap because that “life treathing” conditition comment.

    Massa had eye problem after crash because skull was broken just top of eye and created some pressure to it. Does that will bring further problem to Massa, doctors dont know until in future.

    All this by finnish magazine.

  27. Terry Fabulous
    25th July 2009, 22:39

    Best wishes to Filipe, his wife and family in what must be a truly awful time for the Massa family.

  28. for you wizes here, 800g * speed equals what kind of force? i think we can be very thankful this isn’t much worse. great work keith!! get well soon Massa!!!!

    1. It depends on how big the contact area between spring and helmet was.

      For example, heavy small things are not good – probably why such a relatively small object had such an effect.

      Hoping he’s ok

  29. It *is* “life-threatening but stable” in the original Hungarian wording.

    But this, I guess, is the medical equivalent of saying “it’s serious, it needs professionals to handle it, but it’s being handled OK”.

    In a sense, a F1 race is also “life-threatening but stable” with all those corners taken at 200, yet no accident 99.9% of the time…

  30. All the best to Felipe. Still not entirely clear what was happening, in this day and age the media are so irresponsible, they all want to be first to break stories instead of getting their facts straight!

    Too many News Agencies, too many false rumours = alot of F1 fans confused and annoyed. His family must be extremely upset with the gun ho reporting.

    I wish Felipe and his family all the best and hopefully he will be racing again soon.

  31. As a Ferrari fan but in situations like this a fan of every driver, thanks much from the US for the updates…

    1. Same here from a McLaren fan in the US… dosen’t matter what team a driver is with when something like this happens, we all stand together in wishing Felipe and his family all the best.

  32. Get well soon and come back racing Felipe.

    This unfortunate accident, so close to the tragedy of the Surtees loss, is bound to amplify calls for covered cockpits. I hope no knee jerk reaction ensues and that test are done to ensure that closed cockpits will not endanger more lives than they can save.

    I believe these two incidents are a very tragic coincidence.

    1. Indeed. Strengthening Visors (even further) and Tethers would be the sensible improvements after these 2 incidents IMO.

  33. i’m thinking schumacher is available.

  34. Thanks to Keith for the sensible updates. Some of the 24 news channels seem to be trying to exaggerate Felipe’s condition using fear mongering that unfortunately has become part of some of TV news media today.

    I hope he makes a full recovery. I could not imagine returning to an F1 car after such an incident, but F1 drivers are made of stronger stuff than me.

    I hope his family get to Hungary as quickly as possible to be by his bedside. This will be a comfort to him when he wakes up.

    Massa is a gentleman and I hope to see a full recovery.

  35. I am afriad for Felipe, any serious knock to the head brings with it a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and a long time of recovery. His level of fitness, intellect and age stand him in good stead of recovery (based on cognitive reserve theory). Basically there are protective factors, and recuperative or promoting factors of healing and adaptation that are important to consider whenever wondering about recovery from TBI. Massa has all the markers of a “healthy brain” to think that if the brain injury was moderate than he should recover. The next few days and upto 6 months will be crucial to understand how well he can recover. I really hope it was a mild TBI.
    I think Massa is a future world champion, and after last year I had more respect for him and how he handled defeat to Lewis than I have had for any driver since the 1980s. He is a wonderful role model and my thoughts are with him, his fans, family and friends.

  36. Perhaps it would be better if everyone (including posters on this blog) didn’t try to guess at what is going on.

    Please show some humility and reflect on the fact that Massa has undergone an emergency operation and is still in intensive care.

    1. carol treurnicht
      25th July 2009, 23:39

      @ Michael
      I think that 99.9% of people here are genuinely concerned about Felipe’s health and nothing else.

      1. I’m not disputing that, but I find it arrogant when people try to guess at the situation, positive or negative. It seems beyond some people to realise that in the current situation we can take nothing for granted.

        1. carol treurnicht
          25th July 2009, 23:55

          @ Michael
          I agree with you there- just hope Felipe is Ok.I don’t think there is any malice intended when people try to assess how good or bad the situation is.We just got to hope for the best until we get proper information from somewhere.

        2. I can understand what you’re saying Michael but,it is only human nature to way all the possibilities.The same way any of us would while in the waiting room in the hospital to be there for family or a friend.This is a great bunch of people here on this website,and we love and respect our racers.

          God’s speed Felipe

          1. It’s weigh the possibilities. I think we should be respectful.

  37. carol treurnicht
    25th July 2009, 23:32

    I just heard that his father is now en route from Brazil to Hungary as it seems Felipe needs further surgery- god speed Felipe.

    1. What is your source?

  38. I’m am a Massa fan and Im (fingers crossed) for a speedy recovery. Think we’ve all got a soft spot for Massa – he seems a great guy.

    There doesnt seem to have been any comments here about the ‘spring’ that fell off Ruebens car hitting Massa’s helmet.

    I think that at best (insert your own conspiracy theroy) at worse criminal negliance. We’re talking million pound race cars here with several mechanics, and Ruebens had a ‘spring fall off’ when was the last time that happened?

    Be interested to know what others think….

    1. The idea that anyone would want to or could engineer something like this to happen is ridiculous.

      Bits fall off F1 cars – and other racing cars – all the time. I understand you like Massa and I’m sure you’re as rattled by all this as I am, but trying to pin blame on someone for an obviously blameless incident is not the way to go.

    2. Given the big legal enquiry into Williams/Senna, I would be surprised if there wasn’t some kind of enquiry, FIA or legally…

      Best wishes Felipe!

      1. It’s been announced that the FIA and Brawn GP are going to conduct a thorough investigation. It’s worth remembering, though, that the Senna/Williams enquiry was so ugly and lengthy because Italian law requires someone be held culpable, and such a situation really is unique to Italy.

    3. carol treurnicht
      26th July 2009, 0:01

      @ Simone
      I certainly don’t think there is any conspiracy here- rubens especially was gutted to think his piece falling off was the cause of his pal’s accident. Brawn also took precautions in holdíng back Jensons’s car until it was checked properly…..I really don’t know what else a team can do.It can’t be pleasant for Brawn either to know they caused injury to a fellow competitor.

    4. Worth remembering that this is exactly the reason why many people were concerned that Kimi Raikkonen wasn’t told to stop during the French Grand Prix last year when he had a piece of exhaust flailing around the back of his Ferrari:

      This is what the black-and-orange flag is there for. Race control must use it when the see a car is in danger of losing a part.

      1. Very good point.

        1. (Keith not Simone BTW)

      2. Good point, though also worth pointing out that, on this occasion, it wouldn’t have been used as it wasn’t a visibly obvious fault with the car.

  39. The only thing I don’t understand about Massa’s crash is how the ‘Spring’ was in mid air?

    Had it just fallen off Rubens’ car and was still bouncing around?

    Massa didn’t seem to be anywhere near any other cars.

    I don’t get how the object could be in the air? surely it would just be on the ground and he would have got a puncture?

    Anyone shed any light on this please?

    1. I noticed Brundle was asking “was that a car we could see in the distance” while watching the on-board from FM. I think it was indicated that Rubens was too far away for it to be bouncing after it fell off of his car – there might have been someone else on track that caused it to flick up again? Hard to tell, the pictures just went straight to Massa speared into the tyres, no idea who else was on track at the time…

    2. Barrichello was only a few seconds ahead of Massa. A spring that flies off a car doing 170mph-plus is going to have a lot of energy and take a while to stop moving.

    3. Max should resign now!!!
      26th July 2009, 0:23

      I thought the same thing. I can’t imagine that spring bouncing for ages but anyway maybe more info will come out soon…

      1. 4 seconds isn’t too long a time for the energy stored in a spring travelling at over 280kph, to dissipate. At the time Brundle was making his comment, he didn’t even know it was a spring, he just assumed it was carbon fiber or something.

  40. Fair enough :-) but these are extremely expensive cars. With several expert engineers and mechanics looking after them, if a spring managed to work itself loose enough to come off then that does need looking into.

    1. carol treurnicht
      26th July 2009, 0:16

      @ Simone- there i agree with you and Brawn want to investigate fully as they also don’t understand how such a piece could come loose——there are a lot of questions to be looked into. But I still don’t think its anyone’s “fault” in that sense.

    2. I agree that it needs looking into. It is true that with the reduction of testing, this sort of thing does have more chance of happening whilst racing.

  41. carol treurnicht
    26th July 2009, 0:13

    Well said Keith
    on the other hand Rubens did report that something was wrong with his car- just unfortunate what happened after that. I don’t think Rubens or Brawn fully realised what had happened until later- and in this case no flag waving whaever the colour would have helped. Felipe was only 4 seconds behind Rubens…no time for anyone to react or warn anybody.Just totally tragic that after so many seasons where nothing happens at all we get two major incidents within one week……which just adds to the hysteria somewhat.

  42. By the way I didnt mean that Ruebens was in any way responsible for a spring falling off his car! Im also a Ruebens fan :-)

    1. carol treurnicht
      26th July 2009, 0:19

      @ Simone
      I can understand that- I am a Fernando fan but could I get excited over his pole after what happened- sorry no I could not.

  43. The sri lankan
    26th July 2009, 0:17

    I pray that Felipe Massa is ok. He is one of my favorite drivers if not the favourite. without him i wouldnt even look at Ferrari’s f1 team

  44. I cannot convey my frustration fully in this forum. Unexplained events happen all the time. We’ve all been there. I hope Massa will be okay especially for his family’s sake. Congrats on his expected baby. But once again, Barrichello + Brawn = Disaster. Poor preparation on Rubens car, again! Qualifying, down the drain. A life, threatened. Do the math.

    1. I understand your frustration, but “unexplained events” followed by hints that the bouncing bit of debris was due to Rubens/Brawn not preparing well enough surely contradicts this….

      (N.B. I don’t think this can be attributed to Brawn/Barichello in any way…)

  45. As a Lewis fan I have never liked massa’s attitude or driving, more as a threat than anything else, the fact that he was one of the guys that could taken the title that i wanted my guy to win. I was annoyed at his comments to algersuari this week as well.

    All this dislike turned to pity the instant I first saw his car buried in the wall revving its pants off! I knew at that point he was unconscious and really feared the worst for him.

    Regardless of which driver we favour, none of the drivers deserve to die. Just looking at the incident if he was taking a line which was 2-3 cm further left, I can’t imagine what would have happened.

    Personally I wish felipe a speed uncomplicated recovery, I hope he’s back driving soon battling with Lewis again.

    At the end of the day, whats watching your favourite driver without watching him have a battle with a good rival?

    1. good call. as much as we all like one driver or another, no one wants to see anyone get hurt.

      hopefully he recovers soon

    2. Massa wasn’t against young drivers, he was actually saying rookies should be allowed to test.

  46. All the best to Felipe and his family. That was one freak accident, haven’t ever seen anything like it.

  47. Not blaming Ross personally. But there were preparation issues when Barri’s car was red and Brawn was the race boss. Sometimes we need a change of enviroment to get a different result. Yes, it could’ve been worse.

  48. What a fate?It happen just a week after Henry was hit by that die which cost his life.& Keith had just wrote about cockpit safety just days ago.Hope he is OK.
    Meanwhile lets keep our finger crossed.

  49. I don’t know if this appropriate to say, but when I saw that car burried in the wall, the first thing I tried see was if the tire teathers had done their job, and from the looks of it, they had. The tires had nothing to do with Massa I know, but I really want to know why they didn’t do their job in the case of Surtees.

    1. speaking of tethers, isn’t there tethers on the helmet to stop the head going too far forward…

      when massa impacted with the tire wall his head went a long way forward…

      did the tethers break from the force of the spring impact? or was it just a heavy impact that gave the impression that his head went far forward?

      1. If you restrict too much head movement, you could end up having a driver with a broken neck. There must always be some head/body movement, the body has to slow down not come to a sudden stop.

      2. No, there are no tethers but there is HANS device that helps prevent head and neck trauma that was one of the most common driver injuries before it was introduced.

        1. That will have been his body moving forwards and his head moving, the hans device, as far as I am aware, stops the neck moving beyond its extremities. This may be why he has bone damage on his forehead as it transfers the force from the neck to the forehead (or the object could have caused this). In which case the hans has definitly done its job. Without hans i’m certain we would have been looking at a mortailty due to a basal skull fracture here.

  50. Luca Colojanni (pr person from Ferrari) went to media center and was very agry to AP about life treating comments.

    He forced AP to fix that comments and they did argue long time about what is “life threating conditition”

    Well..Media and truth is something what do not seem walk hand by hand. Same AP agents wrote week ago that because Kimi has been drunk in race , Ferrari can breake his contract and take Alonso in…

    I really hope that Massa will be fine and can continue his career. will he be like Niki Lauda and Mika Hakkinen or like J.J Lehto…future will tell. Oter thing is that what his wife will say about Massas future driving after this accident.

  51. Florida Mike
    26th July 2009, 2:43

    Sorry in advance for writing a book:

    Moments before the Massa incident, Steve Matchett on Speed TV was recounting a story about when he was an engineer for Ross Brawn and on the importance of weight reduction in F1. They were testing new bodywork and had inadvertantly not used all of the fasteners on the new pieces. When the engineers realized they had failed to install all of the fasteners the manager decided to complete the test to see if the missing pieces were needed, and after an uneventful test, they decided to eliminate the seemingly unneccessary component, and save the weight. Matchett used this as an example of the lengths F1 engineers go to get the most out of the least.

    I don’t want to be even close to implying that what seems to be a mechanical failure of one car was at all related to its engineer’s faulty designs or decisions. I just want to recognize that it doesn’t matter what new rules are put in place, or what safety devices are required; the whole idea of F1, IMHO, is to get the Most from the Least. And just like you can’t make “fool-proof” device (because there are some very smart or lucky fools), I don’t think you can make a perfectly safe F1 car. There will always be a situation that exceeds the limits the engineers “allowed” for.

    I hope there will always be a smart engineer trying to get closer to the limit, and to get more from less. Our road cars today are filled with technology pioneered by such endevours.

    All of our thoughts are with Felipe. I hope to see him on an F1 podium soon.

    1. Thanks for the update Mike…I was on a Yankee Stadium trip today and missed SPEED’s coverage. As a result, I was wondering what the team had to say about the events.

      All the best Felipe :)

  52. I didn’t wake up for quali today, and I’m glad… I hope he gets better real quick.

  53. GOD be with Massa and his family this day.

  54. Im really worried about Massa, i dont think James Allen is a Doctor and either is Ferrari, James Allen even told the drivers in the conference straight after he was ok before he even had any facts he just bases everything on hear say! the statement the hospital realeased states “he has a fracture on the base of the skull” this is not good at all that is a very serious and life threatening injury! it looks like the Hans device failed becuase in the replay his head the streering wheel which is exactly the type of g-force that would cause a base fracture but if the hans device did its job then the head should not jerk so far forward as it did.

    1. Prawn GP,
      thats an interesting observation you made here: his head shouldn’t be able to reach the steering wheel as the brief shots on BBC showed. The springs on the HANS device must have been broken.
      That alone should be an indication of how violent the impact must have been.

      However, the HANS device is built for strong decelerations at impact (that is for inertial forces keeping the head moving forward while the body/car decelerates). In this case the head & helmet received a big acceleration backwards where the HANS device doesn’t help diddle y squat.

      In fact Felipe’s brain was squashed against his forehead (as the head was pushed backwards) and then against his back head as the helmet hit the rear of the cockpit. A double whammy concussion.

      What worries me most is the expected brain swelling in such type of injuries. Hope the next 2-3 days go well.

    2. Prawn GP
      Your being pessimistic, the media are making Felipe’s injuries look worse than they actually are. There not “life threatening”, the media are only saying that to gain public interest. Massa will be racing again soon.

  55. What Marilia said is stated also on La Gazzatta dello Sport
    he is on induced coma, will take 2-3 days to complete scans/test to confirm if there are permanent brain damages to the brain or not.

  56. Bernification
    26th July 2009, 4:31

    I’m sure Felipe will manage this injury with the same strength and grace that he handled last years close cut battle for the title.

    Like a true, honest human being.

    Whatever the speculation, he will do his utmost. I’m sure

    We will see him back soon, racing for a world title.

    Get well soon mate.

    A fan.

  57. I was in New York City all day and got all the updates on my cell phone- thanks to Keith for quality updates all day.

    Surely when an injury of this magnitude occurs, information comes out in all shapes and sizes. It appears that Felipe is at least in stable condition, and while there is still a long road ahead of him, he’s at least won a few battles. My thoughts and prayers to him and his family for a speedy and safe recovery.

  58. this is very scary . our prayers with the wholef1 community are with you felipe.

    scary because the last time a brazilian got really in qualifying, someone died in the race. 15 years ago. i hope this not happen. if i was alonso i would not drive the nuts out of the car, i dont wanna be a senna on the race.

    best wishes massa!

  59. I think the confusion comes from what we Hungarians call serious or life threatening injuries. Here the most serious one is critical (aka. válságos) which means you can only hope recovery, but even doctors cannot predict anything. Life threatening and stable is less dramatic, but serious medical care in needed, with a fairly good chance of recovery if no complications occur. Serious is when you broke an arm or leg. The confusion comes from translations without checking medical conditions in relevance to each other.

    They want to awake Massa today morning, Bernie will be there again as well. In 1-3 days they will be able to say if he has any permanent injuries or brain damage.

  60. Head restrain.
    I was looking at the pictures of Massa still in his car.
    One eye open the other shut.
    The spring hit only few cm above his left eye.
    I asked myself: could he have miss the impact if his head cold move? a last second reaction before impact.
    The head restrains has saved many lives already, but the head of the driver is now a still target for any flying debris.
    Should the Head restrain be complemented with an overhead shield ?? (similar to the one use in powerboats).
    2 similar accidents in a week (one fatal)are one too many already.

    1. At the speed he was going at, it would have hit him before he’d have the chance to make any meaningful movement. If he had suspected it was going to hit him before that, he would have swerved.

      1. sorry, but I disagree; small debris cannot be seen at a reasonable distance to have time to swerve the car, but it is possible to move the head at the last sec.
        look at the clip
        stop it and move the time line to 0:11
        you can see the spring, move the time line back and forth between 9 & 11 and Massa head is moving to the right just before the spring hit him.

  61. For the record:
    Nobody should blame the doctors or first news reports from the hospital for exaggerating Felipe’s condition. It is a serious mistake to conclude if someone can talk and move his limbs he is ‘fine’.

    From what I gather from the sources here and elsewhere, Felipe’s skull is fractured both on the left forehead above the eye and at the base. Reports say: Bone fragments caused “some” brain damage (from which I infer that some pieces of prefrontal cortex was damaged and had to be cut out). The fragments were removed surgically, i.e. the surgery was “successful” in medical terms.

    A close friend of mine had an accident with very similar head injuries. The ‘critical’ phase are now the next 72 hours after surgery where the brain can swell uncontrollably and cause so much internal pressure that it can still be life threatening. There is very little one can do medically to relief the pressure – even a craneotomy (opeing the skull) as a last resort relief is not certain to get the pressure build-up under control.

    So injuries of this severity are always considered life-threatening at least for the next 2-3 days until one has a clear indication that the brain swelling is under control.

    I keep my fingers crossed for Felipe. What are the odds for 2 such similar freak accidents within 6 days?
    The cries for closed-cockpit cars will never stop now ….

    PS: The recovery of my friend took 6-8 months.

  62. Well, it’s 2:16AM Sunday morning here on the USA east coast. I’ve just been through all the major media online, and the best of the F1 sites/blogs, and there appears to be no further update on Felipe.

    Best compilation of the reports has already been mentioned here: Felipe did suffer skull injury, which necessitated surgery. Presently still in induced coma, and we won’t know anything definitive until he is awakened and further testing is done.

    It may be days or even weeks before any solid prognosis is known. In the interim, we can only offer our prayers for his good health and full recovery, and send our warmest thoughts to his family, especially his wife. Poor Rafaela! What must she be going through right now, and with the baby on the way. My heart goes out to her.

    Speculation on the genesis of this incident must be guarded. The failed part will be tested, the car will be thoroughly examined. Then and only then will anyone know why that spring left Rubens’ car. But I will say this: I am certain there can be only one of two basic conclusions. Either it was innocent human error, or a totally unforseen failure in the spring or spring mounting. Any surmise of purpose, any conspiracy theory, must be discounted as the utmost flight of fantasy.

    Formula 1 drivers never cease to amaze me. In Canada in 2007, I was certain I had just watched Robert Kubica die in a crash, and two weeks later he was back in the car going like hell.

    Kovi went off into that tire barrier last year and stopped my heart for a moment, then was walking about just a short while later.

    They do it all the time, and I won’t be surprised if Felipe is up and around in short order. I wonder, though, what may lay in store as to continuing his driving career. But as I said, we must wait and see.

  63. @All: An interesting new insight in this crash from the official website.

    It hit the F60 firstly just in front of the cockpit, before then striking the cockpit’s side protection (quite damaged, this area is made of a special foam to absorb impacts) and finally the left side of Massa’s helmet.

    This side protection was introduced only in 2008.

    If the high side protection wasn’t there the piece would have just flied off behind and not have hit Felipe at all.

    But lets not take make another knee-jerk decision here. The side protection must be there. Probably, open cockpits too.

  64. really wish speedy recovery for massa. dont know if ferrari still my fav team without massa.

  65. Bigbadderboom
    26th July 2009, 9:38

    Best wishes to Massa and his Family and friends. Hopefully his recovery will be as straightforward as can be hoped. I doubt he will race again this season though, these type of head injuries have a tenadancy to be a long road to recovery. A friend of mine once had a car accident which left his skull fractured and depressed in two place above his left eye and although he seemed to physically recover quite quickly his medical treatmant was extensive and he felt effects for years afterwards. Any talk of “fault” or “blame” which I have read in some comments here must be disregarded, accidents happen, it’s the nature of the sport, all that can be done is an investigation and then any further implementation of further safety rules which may reduce the chance of this accident happening again. Finger pointing serves no function.
    My prayers are with Felipe “Baby” at this time.

  66. I got the hold of a more detailed close-up of Massa’s injuries, courtesy of some people at F1Time.

    Pic (maybe not for squeamish people)

  67. This report on the Daily Express contains details I haven’t seen anywhere else:

    The 28-year-old ran over a piece of debris on track towards the close of the middle 15-minute session that had been deposited earlier by Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn GP

    The debris appeared to lodge beneath the Ferrari, seemingly locking into place not only the steering column, but also the throttle.

    I think the report is incorrect, will post more if I see similar details anywhere else.

    1. Keith: that report is almost surely mistaken.

      I have another question:
      The Bild-Zeitung in Germany also reported that the emergency doctor had to perform a tracheotomy

      Der Rettungsarzt legt einen Luftröhrenschnitt.


      I don’t trust the Bild-Zeitung at all. Can anyone confirm that report?

      1. Don’t, ever, believe anything in Bild Zeitung. They even announced the end of the world once!

    2. No, I don’t believe that either.

    3. Daily Express is full of BS. They don’t have the slightest clue about F1, the only time they care about cars is when it relates to Lady Diana dying.

    4. The images show clearly that massa was unconscious before going off track. Not even a try to turn the steering wheel. So nothing blocking the direction.

  68. It’s terribly shocking to see anyone take a bump like this, let alone when your favourite driver is in the seat. Drivers racing wheel-to-wheel and giving each other a shunt is one thing, but this is altogether different and not what we want to see of a race weekend.

    Get well soon Felipe, we all want to see you back in the Ferrari entertaining us in the seasons ahead.

  69. I hope Massa will recover as soon as possible.

    By the way, do somebody knows if Raikkonnen has visited Felipe?

    It’s quite strange, I have not seen published any comment from Raikkonnen…

    1. I’m guessing he hasn’t/won’t until after the race. Kimmi needs to focus on that, plus the Massa family will all be in attendance in the hospital. No need to get in the way of them.

  70. Thanks for the update, Keith!

    As far as I know Ferrari is obligated to let Badoer replace Massa. The Italian has a clause in his contract that, if necessary he will be the replacement driver.

  71. Scott Joslin
    26th July 2009, 11:32

    While to reports on Massa Accident seem to be slightly conflicting, I just wanted to wish Massa all the best and hope for a speedy recovery. Any head injury is serious and I hope they take all the time they need to get Massa back to full health.

    Good job Keith on presenting all the information that is out there, it can be very easy to catch wind of a over the top story and run with it like some web sites out there.

  72. An 800g object of such small size would be pretty hard to defeat,even with cockpit protection. My immediate thought was that his injuries would be quite serious. I hope he makes a speedy recovery.

  73. I stayed up pretty late looking for any updates, but I am glad to see that the op has been a success and that he is stable. I hope he makes a speedy recovery and suffers no prolonged effects of the accident. My thoughts are with his family and his wife, who is pregnant apparently. I’m sure Ferrari’s insistence on refuting the “life threatening” bit of the hospital spokesman’s comments were aimed at not alarming the family unduly. I know his brother was there but I think rumour control went into full swing. I’m afraid these things do happen and it was just an unfortunate accident. Let’s not forget 1995 when the rear wing camera fell off Jean Alesi’s Ferrari at Monza and was hit by team mate Gerhard Berger destroying his front suspension. We got away with it then. Hopefully we’ll get away with it this time.

  74. [quote]Formula 1 drivers never cease to amaze me. In Canada in 2007, I was certain I had just watched Robert Kubica die in a crash, and two weeks later he was back in the car going like hell.

    Kovi went off into that tire barrier last year and stopped my heart for a moment, then was walking about just a short while later.

    They do it all the time, and I won’t be surprised if Felipe is up and around in short order. I wonder, though, what may lay in store as to continuing his driving career. But as I said, we must wait and see.[/quote]

    This is not the same. You can train your limbs to near unimaginable strengths at which point they will recover far quicker than Joe Schmoe’s from down the street, but your brain just sits there. There is no physical conditioning of the brain. You could condition everything around it as much as you want, but even that isn’t without repercussions, as Mohammed Ali has shown us. I’m sure he will be out of the hospital in a week or two, but that’s only when recovery proper starts.

  75. Watching the collision live, my first thought was that Massa had been killed. On camera he was just bouncing limp and while he hit the brake peddle, that didn’t mean it was a conscious act as he also slammed down full throttle at the same time. It looked to me from all indications that he was out cold. His hands really never made an attempt to move the wheel, he was just along for the ride, like you would be if you were unconscious.

  76. Not having examined him myself, here is what I am guessing happened. Massa got hit on the left temple area of the head. The spring actually dented the helmet a little and cracked the visor. Then he has one of two things happen to him. He woke up from being knocked out and was able to apply the brakes. Or he had what they call decerebrate posturing which is present when a lower brain injury has occurred. This involves the extremities of the body flexing outward abnormally. That might cause the brake to be applied. Barrichello said he was awake, yet agitated. These are signs of either a severe head injury or neurogenic shock. I am sure they did a CT right away and saw the basilar skull fracture (which BTW is what killed NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt Sr.). They would have taken him into surgery right away to remove a portion of his skull so that pressure could be released from his brain. If there was damage around the brain stem then breathing and heart rate would be affected. If there is swelling around the temple area, it could cause the brain to be pushed through the area that was already damaged at the base of the skull. Again that would lead to breathing and HR problems. This is all on top of the suspected damage from the blow to the temple.
    Make no mistake about this accident. Massa will be lucky to live from this accident, then he would be lucky to live independently again. Unless he makes a miraculous recovery, he likely will never drive again. My prayers are with him.

  77. Stephen Luick
    26th July 2009, 18:42

    Where can I send my wishes and prayers for Felipe’s fast recovery to the Massa family?

  78. Any idea how long Massa will be out for Keith?

    He is a good driver!

  79. If you have ever dropped a saloon car spring on a garage floor-I have-they bounce all over the place.
    I can just imagine one dropping off a car at speed.

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