Felipe Massa crashes after being struck by debris during qualifying

2009 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Felipe Massa crashed heavily during the second part of qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix after apparently being struck by a piece of debris.

The Ferrari driver went straight on at turn four of the Hungaroring. Replays suggested his crash helmet was hit by a piece of debris before he lost control.

For the latest on Massa’s condition see here: Confusion over Felipe Massa’s condition following reports of "life threatening" injury

The accident comes just six days after Formula Two racer Henry Surtees was killed after his helmet was struck by a stray tyre.

The start of the final part of qualifying was delayed by 20 minutes following the crash and teams of marshals sent around the circuit looking for further debris. Brawn confirmed that Rubens Barrichello’s car had lost parts from its rear suspension. Barrichello went to visit his countryman at the circuit medical centre.

Massa has been taken to hospital but his injuries are not though to be serious. He is, however, not expected to take part in the race. Ferrari will not be allowed to use a replacement driver unless the stewards agree they may do so under force majeure. Article 19.1 of the sporting regulations states:

During a season each team will be permitted to use four drivers. Changes may be made at any time before the start of the qualifying practice session provided any change proposed after 16.00 on the day of scrutineering receives the consent of the stewards.

Additional changes for reasons of force majeure will be considered separately.

Update: Massa’s injuries have been confirmed as bone damage to his skull and concussion. He will require an operation and is in intensive care. I hope he makes a rapid and full recovery.

Update 2: Massa is out of surgery and his condition is improving. A report on AP describing his condition as “life-threatening” is apparently inaccurate. BBC are reporting his condition is serious but stable. Rubens Barrichello wrote on Twitter: “Back from hospital. Felipe went through a surgery which went very well. Now he is asleep waiting for a new scan tomorrow.”

Read more: Closed cockpits aren’t a perfect solution – but they may be an improvement

Massa appears to have been struck by a piece of debris during qualifying

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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181 comments on “Felipe Massa crashes after being struck by debris during qualifying”

  1. Kenneth Sharp
    25th July 2009, 14:14

    2 accidents in a week with drivers getting hit on the head by debris!!!!

    Bizarre coincidence? My mother always used to say things came in threes :-(

      1. “Massa in life-threatening condition after surgery”


        1. From what I’ve seen on Twitter that report has been discredited.

          1. That’s the same report.

          2. Indeed Keith, however I don’t see any reason to discredit it just yet, these are hospital officials words apparently.

  2. Good luck Felipe. Such a freak accident… It’s hard to see where the debris came from, and the impact looked pretty heavy. It’s a testament to the design of the chassis that the nose of the Ferrari was left intact.

    1. Thank God we still live in the Era where the scuderias can spend a lot of cash. How would it be in case we had the 45 million limit?

      1. Sush Meerkat
        25th July 2009, 14:33

        Don’t moan about budget cuts Frere Noel when a dude gets hurt, let the Daily Mail do that sort of death mongering.

        Under no circumstances are they gonna put the safety of their drivers under fire in the budget cuts.

      2. Sush Meerkat
        25th July 2009, 14:35

        Don’t moan about budget cuts Frere Noel when a dude gets hurt, let the Daily Mail do that sort of death mongering.

        Under no circumstances are they gonna put the safety of their drivers under fire in the budget cuts.

        Thank God we still live in the Era where the scuderias can spend a lot of cash. How would it be in case we had the 45 million limit?

        Also the piece of debris is from a Brawn, not a Ferrari.

      3. Presumably it’d be no different – the same crash tests would probably apply so cars would have to be just as strong regardless of the budget limit.

        1. Sush Meerkat –

          I think you have missed the point of his post to be honest. I got them impression he is refering to the final crash impart with the barriers. Not to the source of the debris.

          To personally, driver safety is something that I have wondered about in all of this budget cap talk. Maybe now isn’t the right time to talk about it, but it’s certainly something that has room for discussion.

          Personally though, I imagine the same consideration for driver safety as now, will be employed under budget caps. After the last 7 days, probably more infact. :)

          1. Sush Meerkat
            25th July 2009, 19:43

            I think you have missed the point of his post to be honest. I got them impression he is refering to the final crash impart with the barriers. Not to the source of the debris

            I know, I was being facetious in response to his comment, using the accident Massa has had to bolster another argument, apologies Cameron.

            While the teams spend less, the FIA will still make them have cockpits that can withstand a huge amount of trauma.

  3. I’m not trying to make fun of the situation but the first thought that came into my head is that its an empty tin of baked beans.

  4. A close shave for the Brazilian!

  5. The Debris came from Barrichello’s Brawn Car.
    Massa is OK.

    Seriously F1 needs to revisit the base design of the cockpit. F1 should have covered tyres and a closed cockpit….I know it may sound too drastic but at least we may see some nice cars. A possibility when the cars look already so bad.

    1. And the the cockpit smashes, traps drivers, wheel covers fly off…. where does it stop?

    2. They’d just be LMP1 cars then, we already have those.

      1. NO they will not look like LMP1 cars. F1 cars have gone through many changes in the past…and they should go through changes now.

        No sport is worth any loss of life.

  6. It was Henry Surtees’ accident all over again in my head. I just hope the outcome this time is different. Hang on Felipe.

  7. People looking for closed cockpits really need to get a grip. Next we’ll have the cars driven by remote control because its too dangerous to be in the car at all.

    1. I can’t imagine how anyone can be so callous as to look at this accident and say people who ask if driver protection can be improved “need to get a grip”. This is people’s lives we’re talking about.

      1. Come on Keith, of course driver safety is important – but clearly not the most important factor. Otherwise they could simply reduce speeds to non lethal levels and everyone would be fine.

        If F1 drivers are to be completely encased in a protective bubble then why not MotoGP riders or equestrian competitors?

        Ever watched a Red Bull air race? Those pilots are completely enclosed but it’s just a matter of time before that 1st fatality.

        The most common risks to F1 drivers have been dealt with very well (thank you Mr Mosley). Serious injury from fire or high speed impact/deceleration has been virtually eliminated.

        This was a freak accident like we’ve never really seen before. Henry Surtees tragic accident was the result of another accident. This one appears to be the result of a random mechanical failure on another car. Both incidents completely different in nature.

        Let’s not have a freak response?

        1. I didn’t say it was the most important factor and it wasn’t a “freak response”. As I wrote earlier this week the debate over open cockpits is largely about trading off safety in one area against another I don’t believe there’s a perfect solution:


          Nor was it ‘a freak accident like we’ve never seen before’ – we’ve seen drivers’ helmets and cars hit by debris, stones, birds, tyres and others. If drivers are now at more danger from that sort of thing than being trapped in a car (the potential downside of enclosed cockpits) then they should look into it.

          1. Of course they’re more at risk of being hit by debris now than being stuck in the car, as they’re not currently covered. These ARE incidents that are coincidental, quite unlikely but also part of motorsport. You cannot remove all risk, the drivers sign up to the amount of risk and get paid handsomely for it. If the risks were so huge then surely it is for them to decide whether or not to drive. Lets not all blindly walk down the road of knee-jerk reactions to two similar incidents in a short time. When two planes crash within weeks of each other no-one bangs on about how maybe we should stop flying, do they?

            I have to agree, “get a grip” is the most appropriate response.

          2. It just now came to me, Keith, based on your remark:

            we’ve seen drivers’ helmets and cars hit by debris, stones, birds, tyres and others. If drivers are now at more danger from that sort of thing

            You are quite right, in recent memory, drivers have had all manner of things joining them in the cockpit. I know several drivers in other open wheel series that have complained of this.Though nothing like Surtees or Massa, of course. And thankfully.

            In the old days, drivers were much more exposed, and in truth I believe the incident of objects striking the helmet was lower. Can’t recall Stirling Moss or Fangio ever being hit by anything really substantial, and they were FAR more exposed than today’s drivers.

            After Senna’s death, over the years we have seen the cockpit get ever deeper, covering more of the driver’s body, and , was it last year? – recently, the bolsters to the side were raised, for better protection of the side of the helmet.

            I submit to you, the very precautions undertaken to protect the divers are actually contributing to a rise in incident of debris striking drivers.

            Aerodynamics. There is a “suck zone”, the area of lower pressure created just near a car’s body, as the air flows over it. And airflow, by body design, is directed in certain ways by the shape of the body. Currently, the suck zone is about eye-level to the driver. Any debris kicked up high enough to reach the upper side of the body is going to follow the ambient airflow right into the cockpit, and consequently, the driver’s face/head.

            If you could see the way the smoke flows over a car in a wind tunnel, you’d know immediately what I’m getting at. Perhaps you do know.

            So, a solution. Wouldn’t really take anything terribly strong, just something to screw up the airflow just before reaching the driver. Rather the way a rear diffuser makes dirty air to the following car. Disrupt the smooth airflow, you lose the suck zone in that small area, and debris and trash don’t fly into the drivers face. Or, a higher windscreen. Might even work better, takes the airflow above the driver’s head.

            Now, of course, this won’t stop heavy things like tires, or may not have had any effect on that spring that got Massa, but it certainly would cut out the smaller stuff.

            AS to the unfortunate incidents concerning Felipe and young Surtees, I’m of the opinion that they could really be called “freak” accidents, based on the circumstances. Something like it may not happen again for 20 years. Or, hopefully, never.

        2. What you think F1 should after this is not really relevant, now is it? Leave it to the drivers to decide what they think is needed. If you don’t like F1 after that, then go look at something else. You won’t be missed. But telling people to get a grip and not freak out when drivers are killed or hurt is just disgusting.

      2. I got a fright when I saw that.

        He’s really quite lucky to get away with that one. That spring hit him fairly hard.

        He’s very lucky to be concious enough to press the brake pedal.

        I had a bad feeling when I saw Massa in the cockpit and he wasn’t moving at all.

        Thank god he’ll be ok though.

        Hopefully he’ll be ok to race tomorrow.

      3. Pedro Carvalho
        25th July 2009, 15:09

        I agree with the poster, sorry Keith. This is the typical knee-jerk reaction that should be avoided when dealing with serious stuff. You could take about 50 things to change in F1 in order to improve safety, that doesn’t mean they are all great ideas. Closed cockpits would create just as much mess as open ones, there’s no denying it regardless on how you try to look at it, and would strongly reduce show.

        And please don’t tell me that safety comes before show, because everyone knows that ain’t true, you don’t want to see cars running at 30km/h, or anything of the sort.
        It’s a compromise between safety and show.

        Besides, even with closed-cockpit, I’m relatively sure that the spring(?) that hit Massa would have reached his helmet in pretty much the same way…

        You are in favour of closed cockpits, I respect that. But that doesn’t mean it’s a fact that closed cockpits are safer.

        My 2 cents.

        1. You are in favour of closed cockpits, I respect that.

          I didn’t say that – I said they are worth considering:

          “Closed cockpits aren’t a perfect solution but they may be an improvement”

          Whether or not they should be used depends on how they could be implemented technically.

          And please don’t tell me that safety comes before show

          I didn’t say that either.

          I fear that in a desire not to be seen as giving a “knee-jerk” response – which is understandable – some people are in danger of going to the other extreme and failing to notice that times have changed and drivers are now at greater risk from being hit by debris than being trapped in their cars.

          1. Pedro Carvalho
            25th July 2009, 15:35

            Ok, that was a good reply, from what I have read in your topic about the cockpits, I got the clear idea you were in favor of the closed ones.

            And I know times may be changing, because nowadays it is relatively rare that a driver gets stuck inside the car, but then again, I can’t remember the last time (other than this one, of course) a F1 car got hit by a flying debris with serious consequences – that would be a cool thing to track down.

            But I don’t think that for instance, in this case, it would have been any different. If tomorrow Piquet crashes (which is just the usual for him, ;)) and his car catches on fire, there will be those that will advocate for open cockpits and so on.

            Closed cockpits take away all a lot of personality in F1, and as of now, I strongly believe that not enough evidence exists to propose such a radical change in the cars: also, bearing in mind the way a F1 car is shaped, not really sure how cumberstone would it be when closed, and if visibility could be any good.

          2. The debate for closed or open cockpits can be continued.

            What is necessary and can be implemented without controversy is a thorough check-up of the cars itself.

            Cars should not have any components loosely fitted in the first place, that they may come off.

            Kimi’s exhaust came off at France last year, even that could have hurt someone.

            The cars need to be rigid. Head on crash tests are done to ensure that the bodywork is strong enough. But clearly, other components which cannot be tested by these crash tests are flying off cars randomly.

            If that is done away with, open vs closed debate won’t occur at all

          3. Well if we’re jumping between extremes let us hope we fall somewhere in the middle.
            But why are drivers suddenly more at risk at being hit by debris? Yes if we are to take the last seven days as a gauge. But overall only in comparison with other potential risks?

          4. Keith, I think what is more important in the safety of the drivers is to keep things from flying off of other cars and becoming 300kph obstacles to try and dodge. As small as that part was it will not be seen and is therefore a danger.
            If everyone is truly concerned about the safety then make the cars not fall apart.
            I think that other than that a cooler head and rational thought over the whole process must be considered. I bet if questioned the drivers dont want a closed cockpit and I wouldnt want them in F2.

      4. Sush Meerkat
        25th July 2009, 17:00

        I can’t imagine how anyone can be so callous as to look at this accident and say people who ask if driver protection can be improved “need to get a grip”. This is people’s lives we’re talking about.

        its a knee jerk reaction comment to F1 being sterilised, with a dash of contraversy with the remote control statement. Excellent reposte by the way.

        I agree with you Keith and the originator of the comment though. This is a very dangerous sport, a dude in a car going 200KPH is dangerous, its why its exciting. I go rock climbing and skiing to OWN a mountain, I don’t do it because its safe.

        Accidents will happen, they will be tragic, our heroes will be hurt, god forbid some will be lost, some have been lost.

        But at least they gave us who they are and what they do and by God do we love them for it, and for that, those hurt or worse are still alive.

        I hope Massa is OK.

        Instead of making knee jerk comments I think we should celebrate the fact that the Ferrari cockpit that Massa was cocooned in stayed in one piece and by proxy, Massa’s body is in one piece too.

        Well done Engineers of Formula 1, you’ve saved the life of one guy by creating such an engineering marve, we as fans of F1 should BE PROUD OF THAT.

        1. While many people in this discussion would call closed-cockpits a “knee-jerk” reaction, I would like to point out that drivers being hit on the head is a safety issue that has been decades in the making. What I would call for isn’t necessary a swift rule change to close off the cockpits. I would like to see some serious research and testing done to determine how much of an advantage a closed cockpit would be, compared to an open cockpit. The best way to settle this discussion is for somebody to build a canopy and shoot various objects at it at high speed. This is what the FIA should be doing instead of wasting time with politics.

          1. Sush Meerkat
            25th July 2009, 19:48

            While many people in this discussion would call closed-cockpits a “knee-jerk” reaction,

            I didn’t say that, I said his comment is a knee jerk reaction, having closed or open cockpits is not my choice.

            The way you reply to such a comment is the “knee jerk” reaction I’m talking about Steven.

        2. Mark Hitchcock
          25th July 2009, 18:11

          Presumably you use ropes when you go climbing? If so, that doesn’t add to the experience, it just makes you safe.
          Just like measures to protect drivers from debris would make them safer.

          1. Mark Hitchcock
            25th July 2009, 18:15

            For the record I’m neither for or against closed cockpits because they may not make things any safer.
            I just think that some thought needs to be put into safety in light of the two serious accidents caused by debris hitting drivers in the last week.

          2. perfect!

    2. My post said “people looking for closed cockpits” not “people looking for improved safety”. If you close the cockpit then its not a Formula 1 car anymore.

  8. Massa must have gone out when that piece hit. if you watch the graphs, the Brake goes full on, the throttle takes a dip… and then that goes full on too. not good. Not sure if closed cockpits would be the solution, as something the right shape and velocity would smash the cockpit. Possibly the support braces in the cockpit and the design of the helmet would be a better route to go down.

    1. I agree. Impact, pause, brake full on and throttle dip, and then the throttle comes back on.
      I’m not a fan of the closed cockpit idea, but I wonder if they could be given windscreens?

    2. Indeed, I noticed the same.

      Explains the front wheels locking up while the car still doesn’t seem to slow down. This would look like a rear brake failure that Coulthard recognised.

    3. Either knocked out or dazed. Hope he recovers completely and swiftly.

      The engine could not have been in too good a shape after taking a full throttle against a fully engaged brake.

  9. i want to c u back tommorow felipe.good luck

  10. It’s racing… These things happen. Look at motorcycle races… Their whole bodies are exposed.

    Racing is dangerous and they have to take as many safety precautions as possible, but accidents will happen.

    I’m a big Felipe Massa fan and hope dearly that he is well and good to race tomorrow.

  11. Notice how on the telemetry Felipe had his feet on both the gas pedal and the brake pedal after he got hit on the head…

  12. it was really freaky… hope, he will be alright. the spring is from Barrichello’s rear suspension, any info about what made the spring to detach from the suspension?

  13. Very unlucky for Massa. I sincerely hope he is ok and can continue for the rest of the race season?

    Now lets sit back and watch everyone’s knee jerk’s…

  14. Colaianni said on RAI (just after the pilots press conference) that Massa is not going to race tomorrow.

  15. What is with Brawn’s car?!

  16. Have to agree with Keith. People should save the ironic jokes, Massa’s condition hasn’t been fully established yet. I’ve just read one report that he was put into an induced coma before being taken to hospital. Head injuries have to be monitored carefully for some time after.

    1. Jokes are not malicious, they are a natural way of revealing tension. Have you ever been to a wake? (not saying that Massa is dead). I ends with people laughing and telling funny stories.

      1. Mark Hitchcock
        25th July 2009, 17:42

        Yeah, they don’t tell the jokes and funny stories right after the person dies (or in this case suffers serious injury).

  17. Aaron Shearer
    25th July 2009, 14:58

    It would have been a bit better if there was a gravel trap at that corner, it would have reduced the speed to an extent and presumably made it a bit safer for him?

    I pray that he is okay.

    1. And therein is another debate. Gravel vs asphalt in run off areas.

      Asphalt has been shown to the better choice as most off’s have the driver still in relative control and more able to control or slow down the car on asphalt.

      1. This accident shows the advantage of gravel run offs. ‘For Sure’ but it was not what injured Massa. think of Hami’s and Heikki’s tire wall incursions and you’d see that even with gravel traps tire walls are not necessarily harmfull.

      2. When Ralph Firman crashed there in 2003 there was a gravel run-off – unfortunately he missed it and went all the way to the barrier on the grass:

    2. Matt Fallon
      25th July 2009, 15:31

      Not really i’m afraid, gravel run offs tend to be good at stopping spinning cars, but just awful at stopping cars that are just going straight on…

      This is because, the car just skates over the top of the gravel and doesn’t lose speed, drivers at least have a chance to apply the brakes and attempt to slow the car on a tarmac run off…

      One of the things that contributed to making Schumachers similar looking accident so bad at Silverstone 99, was the fact that there was a gravel runoff, schumacher was braking and then touched the gravel run off, skated over the top of it and straight into the wall scrubbing off little speed on the way…

    3. It would have been a bit better if there was a gravel trap at that corner, it would have reduced the speed to an extent and presumably made it a bit safer for him?

      Or not being conscious and in control of the car? There is nothing wrong with the corner. Why not get rid of all corners then when the worst happens there is no wall to impact?

      Or maybe ban all racing. the safest option.


  19. Some graphic pictures doing the rounds on Twitter show a deep tear ripped in Massa’s crash helmet, the visor partly ripped off, and blood around his left eye. Hope there isn’t any damage to his eyesight.

    1. As I said on the live blog as i watched the reply… you could tell that the spring whacked his helmet at visor level. this picture is exactly what i feared.

      the helmet itself can withstand some serious hits, it’s the visor that is the weakest link in terms of safety of open wheel racing, and the event of debris hitting drivers.

      I really hope he is not permanently injured… and that he can get back in the saddle soon.

      1. The visor is almost bullet proof. But the mass equation of the spring probably almost exceeded its design limits. Lucky it didn’t meet the visor head on.

    1. Oh that really is a sorry sight. So sorry for Massa. Poor guy just looks full of fear.
      That eye injury looks debilitating for this race. Let’s hope there’s no permanent damage.

      1. Poor guy just looks full of fear.

        I can’t stop thinkin about it. I hope he’s ok. I think he’s possibly one of the best racers in F1 today.

        Get Well Soon Filipe.

    2. Wow, he was lucky he didn’t get hit with debris directly on a visor – this was really close.

  20. I really hope he’s okay, that looked nasty.
    I agree that a solution needs to be found to increase the amount of protection to the drivers head, although I’m against cockpit covers; I can easily imagine situations where a cockpit cover could be more of a hinderance than a help and potentially trap drivers in the car after an accident or prevent doctors/marshalls from getting to them quickly, especially if they had been disfigured in an accident. However I do agree that some serious thinking needs to go on.
    Kimi’s ice cream cone… :D (I know it’s not funny but still)

    1. The ‘ice cream cone’ comment is literally pathetic.

      1. I don’t even understand it’s relevance to the current topic…

  21. i can’t help but wonder what would have happened if it hit his shoulder. that surely would have torn his arm to bits…

    1. i just saw the pictre of the helmet/eye. not good. hope there’s no permanent damage. best wishes felipe.

  22. Guys just to add info to your attempted analyses. The throttle indicator is anologue; Felipe’s foot was planted all the way to the barrier. The brake indicator is digital, it has no way of differentiating 5% or 95% of pedal travel. He wasn’t braking heavily at all, only as much as a limp left leg would weigh on the pedal. Over the bumps on the inside of turn 4 his wheels locked and remained that way until impact.
    To add to the discussion, I was worried he’d broken his thumbs on impact but glad to see his arms moving without supports later. Only hope to hear good news regarding legs, ankles and feet. Speedy recovery Felipe!

    1. That’s not true. Both throttle and brake indicators are the same. They get their values from the engine management system which gets its input straight from potentiometers fitted to both brake and throttle pedal. They are indeed both still analogue with a high-res DAC interpreting the signal.
      Where did you get the idea that the brake indicator is just an on/off?

    2. Yeah, plus the accelerator pedal is light underfoot, the brake has a gradient resistance which implies he was knocked out by the debris resulting in his feet slumping onto both pedels.

      In the picture of him being lifted from the car he is clearly in severe concussion, the damaged helemt and blood on his face are ominous. Let’s hope he makes a full recovery.

      1. I’m pretty sure you’ll find that the data that the graphics display (though I’m aware not what the teams receive from their cars) with regards to the brake pedal travel is only shown as 1/0. I’ve been keeping an eye on it all year and the 2nd half of last year. When I see drivers “slam the brake pedal to 100%” into and sometimes through T8 in Turkey I tend to confirm my own hypothesis!!

        1. Oh and I grin that my basic method of using my eyes and common sense is much more effective at interpreting the information than your passive-aggressive use of technological knowledge :D

          1. Oh and finally for cover your inevitable retort. Check the video posted at the top of this very page at 0:31. When he brakes with “maximum” pedal travel he still manages to travel a good oooooh 350m? Either I’m right or you’re wrong!

          2. Grin away. ‘Passive-aggressive’ use of ‘technological knowledge’ (or facts) is, to me at least, a much better way of understanding something.
            I sincerely hope other aspects of your life don’t become too doubtful once you observe maybe 10%, 30% or even 80% braking force applied…

          3. Lol well at least u don’t deny it and I guess some props for at least trying a throw back. But back to the matter at hand. Come on, it’s pretty obvious dude. Look at the facts on display and you’ll soon understand this particular something

          4. Well, you have successfully sown seeds of doubt in my mind. I’ve just been reviewing some telemetry and so far failed to come up with anything that supports my argument.
            Not convinced as yet but ready to accept your interpretation for now!

            What you haven’t observed in the Massa incident however is the fact that there is still enough pressure to lock the wheels (and leave skid marks hundreds of meters long.) Ineffective however because he was also applying 100% throttle.

            Maybe we are both wrong (or right?) :)

          5. Thanks man. THe reason i’ve noticed it is cos I want to be able to see differences in drivers and their braking styles but can’t, it’s pretty frustrating!! With the locked wheels, they don’t lock (only the fronts I can see of course) until on the grass, and then there are bumps when rejoining the circuit which keeps the wheels locked and the from mid-track to barrier Massa is oscillating back and forward in the car which I imagine gives enough intermittent pressure through his (I reckon unconcious/half-unconcious) leg onto the brake pedal to lock dirty wheels on a dirty surface, the wheels lock and move again in time with his oscillations. Again with my point regarding the brake travel indicator, it remains constant throughout

  23. That picture makes me sick – I hope that he recovers fully both physically and psychologically.

    Apparently he had his feet on both the throttle and the brake, which could have been a reaction to the shock of the impact. Also, he never lets go of the wheel.

    It’s obvious he won’t be racing tomorrow as they will have to run brain scans to ensure no repeat of the Donohue accident. I wonder what the extent of his injuries are?

    Please, please, please God let Felipe be OK – this last week has been too much a reminder of the dangers of motorsport…

  24. The poor guy looks in terrible shape, he won’t be racing on Sunday. That eye will be swollen, hope he’s ok.

  25. Those images look horrible, hope he’s okay but he clearly won’t be racing tomorrow :(

  26. his hand were still on his wheel, hope he didn’t broke any fingers or his wrist

  27. What a terrible deal, I hope he is alright and makes a speedy recovery. I think an alternative solution to prevent something like this other then closed cockpits would be either a windshield or safety screen going around the cockpit. Sprint cars use a steal rock screen in front of the driver to prevent this sort of thing and I think F1 needs something similar, if not to stop the debris then to at least slow it or deflect it.

  28. Am I right in thinking that the debris look sooo much like a spring? If so where the f**k did that come from? (Before anyone says the Brawn; they don’t use springs)

    1. Rear suspension from Barrichello’s car?

      Do you think they use maglev or magical suspension?

      1. Not sure how it could lose such a critical part and finish the lap though.

        1. I guess you’ve seen the comment below now about it poetentially being a Porsche Supercup car spring. But I’m still at a loss as to how it gained enough energy to travel to where it did. If it rolled down the hill, hit a bump and sprung (as springs do!) up into the air then that is an horrendously unfortunate series of events.

          1. Mark Hitchcock
            25th July 2009, 17:53

            If it wasn’t part of Barrichello’s car then BAR could well have run over it, damaging his suspension and flinging the spring into the air.

          2. Barrichello loses a part of his suspension and Massa hits a spring. 1+1=2

            Anyway, it has already been confirmed that it was Barrchello’s spring.

            Granted Barrichello apparently passed 4 seconds earlier so it’s quite bizarre that the spring was still hopping around there.

            Still it’s a spring, the tend to “spring”.

    2. From the talk I heard it sounds as though it was the third spring on the rear of the car. Yes the main left & right springs are torsion bars, but the third (heave) spring is a traditional coil spring (which contains the “J-damper”).

      1. Ah good point, on face value that sounds more probable. I may be wrong here but I was under the impression that the J-dampers are enclosed with/near/in the ‘box? Obviously many parts leaving Barrichello’s car earlier in the straight so either a big material failure or a probably hee-owge hole in the back of his car?

    3. Apparently, they do use springs as they confirmed it fell off Barrichello’s car.

      Brawn confirmed the spring belonged to a damper from Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn car, weighing around 800 grams.


  29. The spring was from a previous porche cup qualifying session, filipe was knocked out the moment he was hit, the braking was due to his left foot being over the brake pedal, and as he hit the bumps on the track his foot was bouncing on the pedal, he has facial injures over his left eye and forhead and will not take any further part this weekend.

    1. Debris from previous race? Um, aside from “Safety” the FIA should impose a strict rules to keep and make the track clear from foreign object or debris like this, before and after each race sessions.

      1. Ah for real? I guess there was a fairly hefty incident in the Prosche session then? So how on Earth did it gain energy to bounce down the circuit? Wasn’t hit by any other car… Any other practical suggestions? The only one I can think of is if it were thrown though I count that out on grounds that I don’t believe ANYONE would do such a thing

  30. Wow, that brings back some nasty memories. Just over two months ago I was driving home from work along the Highway doing about 130kph when I fell asleep and ran into the back of a B-Double. The air bag deployed and I can report that I’m physically OK and my car was written off and insured. Mentally though I will never forget the “OH ****” moment just before impact and then the annoyance of the airbag hitting me in the chest. Anyway, as someone mentioned earlier, let’s hope Felipe can recover mentally from this because I have no doubt physically he’ll be fine. Once again, WOW what an experience that must have been for Felipe.

  31. It’s not a knee-jerk reaction to move for a safety measure in the wake of an accident, because it is primarily at these moments that perennial advocates have greater voice and support for implementation is there. And it is frequently only at these times when failures of approach or concept come into focus.

    Those who claim that safety improvements should be abated now because we have enough, or oddly, that since there are too many measures to choose from we should do nothing, should not apply that logic when they get behind their own steering wheel or board an airplane.

    I would add the observation that the people now decrying supposed excesses of safety were also moaning about the high cockpit sides, moving driver’s feet behind the front axle centerline, roll-hoop height and force requirements, etc., when these steps were implemented. We were also told then to “get a grip” before the HANS device was implemented, and certain drivers complained about shoulder pain or the weight.

    I suspect that the safe-enough crowd is mostly not old enough to remember the terrible head, spine, and feet injuries that were rampant before, and then abated after, the safety measures of the post 1994 era. Such accidents are a threat to the sport we love, and if you want to be able to continue to enjoy it, I would recommend that people consider supporting the continued development of safety measures.

    1. DMW, all fine points, thank you. I sincerely don’t think anyone here is against supporting continued development of safety measures.

      Just a more balanced approach to risk assessment and appropriate safety measures.

      There are the extremes.

      From: Drivers must not allow themselves to be exposed to danger and every measure possible must be undertaken to prevent any injury. Conclusion, ban racing. To: Drivers willingly take part in an extremely dangerous activity. They know the risks and are prepared to take them. No doubt in exchange for the buzz and the rewards.

      Or something like that. Personally I’d be happy to risk my life for it. I really would.
      In fact I do just for the buzz alone…

  32. In a Hungarian local NewsTV says: “Massa need an operation.” :(:(

  33. The visor shouldn’t have opened itself. They should make changes to that. Then I think the hemlets should be increased in size to have better cushioning quality.
    We’ve got glass that can protect you from bullets, so there should be no problem with having visors that cannot be damaged by anything. If that’s not enough then this should solve all the problems:

    1. The visor appears intact. It seems the hinge is the area that is broken.

      The visors they use are apparently bullet proof. Or is that an urban myth?

    2. From my pedestrian point of view, it doesn’t look like the strength of the visor/helmet would have made much of a difference in this case. Yes, the helmet and visor look a mess, but from all the pictures it looks like nothing actually went through it.

      The force of that weight at that speed knocked him out cold, instantly. I doubt sitting behind 5 inch thick bullet proof glass as a visor would have reduced the forces on his head and neck…

  34. Hopefully felipe gets a full recovery. I wonder who they are sticking in the seat if they can race felipes car tomorrow? I know they probalby wouldn’t but it would be cool if they stuck schumi in the car. :)

    1. It is unlikely anybody would step in as every driver needs to quallify for the race. Maybe they can be aloved to let Badoer race if he will start from the box?

  35. When I saw his car in the wall and the tire streaks, I at first just thought that something had happened to the car, but then they started talking about bits flying off of Barichello’s car and my heart alomst literally stopped! I hope is okay. Does anyone know how fast is car was going when he got hit?

  36. I apologise for laughing at the ice cream joke, I really hope Felipe is OK and still believe that some hard thinking needs to be done about increasing protection to the drivers head.
    Also, I do wonder along with Aaron from earlier on whether the car might have decelerated less if there was gravel there instead of Tarmac. Lots of things for the FIA and/or FOM to look into here.

  37. Massa arrived to the hospital(video):

  38. Yes, maybe safety comes after show, but maybe it shouldn’t. Unlike some “unhumanitarians” that always exist in this sad world of ours, some (and I’m talking plain and simple expectaTors) would like the sport to be a distraction and a hobby when they turn on the TV, and not to witness some bizarre, satellite-live, sad moments of life and death.
    But there has to be always the freak, morbid ones, those who wishes to see exactly the opposite, like some usual expectators of the 70’s.
    Safety is the main issue always, and I say this as a career driver of my category, which I will not say which one it is, and it is the main topic of GPDA and FOTA.
    Mosley is the responsible not only for the extremely abrupt changes of the 1994 regulations, which led to tragic events in that season, but is also the one who sued all the teams and Michelin that were REALLY CONCERNED about the safety of their drivers. This is Max Mosley, not the other way around as some are always trying to paint.

    1. I was really happy I hadn´t heard about that man this weekend at all. Is there any reason to bring him into this discussion about a freak accident involving Massa?

      Also why you´re bringing up the point about people rooting for driver´s deaths, I have no idea. Just because not everybody is instantly an advocate of F1 cockpits doesn´t mean they don´t wish the best for any of the drivers. All F1 sites I´ve visisted have shown nothing but support for Massa.

      Go start an FIA president flamewar somewhere else, this is about a freak accident involving Massa. Use this incident as unrelated political leverage all you want, but don´t claim to be on the moral highground of safety while doing so.

  39. Apparently Massa suffered a cracked skull and concussion. He needs surgery.

    Obviously he’s not going to race tomorrow.

  40. Maybe JV could drive the Ferrari!!!

  41. he was semi-conscious after he got hit, he started to downshift, started braking, but kept the throttle even after he crashed..even more, he didn’t get the hand off the steering wheel and didn’t brace himself..terrible

  42. Feel bad Massa, that was a very bad accident. I sincerely hope he is OK and can continue for the rest of the race season.

  43. Ferrari have put out a statement saying Massa “suffered a cut on his forehead, a bone damage of his skull and a brain concussion. These conditions need to be operated on after which he will remain under observation in intensive care.”


    Hope his recovery is trouble free and he doesn’t have any problems regaining his edge once he returns.

  44. i think he will be out for the season. if he’s having an op on his brain, then he will not be allowed near an f1 car for a few months. fingers cross for you felipe baby!!!

  45. I have always been annoyed at how the FIA reacts to crashes. They should start the medical extraction team immediately at a big crash, not wait for the crew to signal them. I saw Ralph Schumacher’s crash at the USGP a couple of years ago, and he sat for several minutes before anyone was sent. I was horrified, and people were yelling “send the medics!” It was the same thing this time. The crew had to signal the medical team, and this wasted a valuable minute or two. It would be better to tell them to turn around because the driver is okay than to make an injured driver wait.

    1. Absolutely 100% correct. I could not agree more. changes need to be made in F1’s emergency response.

      Formula 1 officianados frequently knock the IRL series, but could definitely learn from them regarding emergency medical response. They have a dedicated crew that travels to every race. Those guys frequently are at the car before the dust settles, before even the corner workers can get to the car. Absolutely outstanding work.

      I believe F1 medical response needs some tweaking, for certain. “Medical Car”. That’s all very “gentleman racer” and all that, old boy–but I want an AMBULANCE if I crash !

      You’ve made an important observation, DC. One can only hope that FiA reads and pays attention to Keith’s blog–perhaps they’ll get something right, for a change!

  46. Ross Brawn has said the part Massa hit weighed about 800g (0.8kg).

    1. 0.8kg X 250+ kph. That is a lot of energy going into a small area.

  47. I just spotted on the McLaren website of all things that “Massa will need to undergo surgery after it emerged he had suffered bone damage of the skull and a brain concussion in his accident at the Hungarian Grand Prix”. Best wishes to Filipe and I sincerely hope he has a quick recovery with no lasting side effects…

    1. where? i didn’t spot it. could you plz post a link?

      1. check the McLaren widget as there is no link…

    2. Some people posting on here are not helping the situation with there irrartional and practically uncontrollable histeria. Can those concerned kindly take a deep breath and calm down and get the facts first, then think about them rationally logically and carefully before making comments. Lets put some faith in the systems and peoples envolved and believe that all concerned are doing their utmost to ensure a positive outcome from an unfortunate incident…

  48. Man I was so relieved to see the fella moving his hands about when he came out that ambulance…phew, thanks god that he’s safe albeit having to go under the knife.

    So who’s gonna take his place tomorrow? Luca Badoer or Marc Gene? It would interesting if Marc get to race…when was the last time we had 3 Spaniards on the grid?

  49. When will we find out how his surgery went?

  50. Williams 4ever
    25th July 2009, 18:33

    another link First thing that came to mind was flash back 2007 magny cours with Kimi circulating around the track with damaged fuel flap hanging precariously from his car.
    While it was lucky nobody got hurt, but clearly tells about incompetency of FIA stewards who didn’t black flag the fin in that race.

    1. Actually, they have a perfect flag for that situation which for some reason they never use – black flag with orange circle…

    2. If we’re thinking of the same incident, I believe it was actually an exhaust tube.

      I complained about that pretty loudly at the time (to no-one off course… the futility of the internet “On the internet, no one can hear you scream”), as I thought he should have been black flagged and taken off the track at the time..

      we tend to forget the physics at work in this sport because of the ease with which the cars accelerate and brake and turn etc, but an exhaust component flying off Kimi’s car at 150miles per hour could easily strike a fatal blow to a bystander, track official etc.

      I thought this was an egregious dereliction of duties by the track stewards and the racing director, and for that matter, Ferrari! I remember them looking at the component during the pit-stop and actually deciding NOT to do anything about it… “let’s just keep it flopping around… it’ll fly off somewhere, but I don’t want to be the one to cut it off.”

      I am still pi$$ed about it!

      1. actually, I think it was 2008 Magny Cours, not 2007

  51. It seems that the surgery finished and Felipe is OK now (well, he is still at the hospital…)

  52. Hang in there “Felipe Baby”…we will all be thinking about you in tomorrow’s race.

    Hoping you a speedy recovery.

  53. It will certainly need to be investigated how and why that part eventually striking Massa’s helmet came off.

    I think it’s worth evaluating if an added feature, for example, a glass shield around the cockpit should be added. There would have to be hard requirements for that, though. We’re obviously not talking about some deluxe windshield, here, but a protection system that would have to provide driver safety by absorbing a wide range of potential impacts from objects. An impact from a large, heavier object such as the wheel by which Surtees was hit is obviously going to have a different effect than a comparatively smaller part that can strike a small point of the surface with high force.

    At the end of the day, any of these considerations of possible further safety measures won’t get anyone around acknowledging that some inherent risk of motor racing will nevertheless remain.

    In the meantime, let’s hope Felipe Massa will get better soon enough and make a full recovery.

  54. It has to be said…. This is Spanky’s fault, and this time it’s not some anti-Mostley rant….
    Had in-season testing not been banned, Brawn engineers would have noticed this way before the car got into the track with anybody else in it… The fact that some part just “flies off” in the middle of the qualifiers explains that cars should be tested before they get sent into a race, putting not only themselves, but the other 19 (soon to be 25) other drivers in the circuit….
    I really do understand Mosleys ideas, but they are ideas for GP2, Formula 1 is pinnacle of motorsport, if you can’t handle the pressure, the costs or the magnitude… race in GP2, F2, FM….

    1. Robert McKay
      25th July 2009, 20:19

      THhey could have tested for a hundred billion kilometres and still had a part that broke, flew clear, whatever.

  55. @Keith:

    One more update required.

    Massa’s surgery has been accomplished successfully and he is in ICU.

  56. Sky news is saying that he is in a life threatening condition now. oh god i’m fearing the worst now!!

    1. I’m not sure about their sources, others are saying he is recovering from the accident…

      1. It seems sources are from the hospital, I hope it sounds worse then it is.

  57. This is what Sky News website says, “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.”

    Life Threatning but stable? what does that mean?

    1. it means the idiotic hungarian doctors are contradicting themselves. the phrase “Life Threarning but stable ” makes no sense to me. hope he dosen’t succumb to his injuries :(, if that happens i’ll stop watching F1 forever. god plz show mercy on poor felipe :(

      even yahoo news is reporting the same.


      1. Any traumatic brain injury…which Felipe has suffered…would have to be considered life threatening. He has probably experienced some brain swelling and possibly hemorrhaging…the surgery would be done to relieve the pressure…which would mean his condition is serious and possibly life-threatening. From the sounds of it, he was put into an induced coma to reduce the swelling. The immediacy of his care and treatment is likely to lead to a complete recovery.

        It is very hard to predict the recovery path from traumatic brain injuries.

    2. See above about the AP “life threatening” article.

  58. ESPN is saying that Massa’s condition has gotten worse

    1. That’s the same AP article again, it’s been posted on here several times now, and there are quite a few other sources specifically saying it is incorrect. Until we get a different source saying otherwise I suggest we ignore it.

  59. As an occasional NASCAR watcher I’ve often seen cases where the pace care is brought out to clear debris on the track. I’m ashamed to say that I thought it was ‘just to improve the show’ and ‘what harm can a bit of debris do?’.

    Maybe this is something NASCAR has got right and lesson F1 could learn.

    1. Well, the debris got off the Brawn car seconds before so safety car wouldn’t help there. It is also a standard procedure in F1 as well after accidents. Well – if it happend in quallifying the session would get red-flagged.

    2. You mean a safety car should tail all the race cars, and catch any loose nut and bolt flying off instantanously?

  60. Medical director Peter Bazso said at a news conference that “Massa’s condition is serious, life-threatening but stable.”

    will some english expert plz explain to me as to what the above statement means? why do they have to be so cryptic? i want to know whether they have good doctors at budapest.

    1. I don’t know what that means but the other part of the statement – him being on a respirator got me worried. Maybe it is standard precaution but it doesn’t sound good :/

    2. It means that the brain injury is serious. The vital signs are stable (heart beat, blood pressure breathing, etc). “Life-threatening” is the possibility of severe brain swelling over the next 72 hours that can be fatal way after a ‘successful’ surgery. No doctor on earth can predict how bad it is going to be, but it is almost certain that there is some swelling already that indicates a protectively induced coma.

      The have excellent doctors in Budapest.

  61. Wow, the pictures makes me feel sick. The poor guy looks terrified. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. I hope he makes a speedy recovery. I also just read that he has come out of surgery and he is doing ok (“serious but stable”). Good luck, Felipe baby!

    I think that this was a just very unfortunate accident. Yes they can close the cockpits, and yes they can improve safety even more. But when people drive around at a track at 300kph accidents always will happen, and people will get hurt. It’s a sad fact about racing.

  62. here is what Kimi has to say about the issue

    “It is just an unlucky situation what happened today,” he said. “It could have happened two years ago, or it could happen five years ago.

    “The cars have an open cockpit so there is always the chance that something can hit it. It is not the first time that someone has been hit and unfortunately sometimes drivers get very badly hurt or die. It is part of the risk in motor racing. For sure Felipe was very unlucky today and hopefully will be okay, but you cannot get rid of that issue.

    “You would need to make a rule for a bullet proof window in front of you to get rid of that issue. It is just unfortunate that these things happen sometimes.”

    well there is an interesting thought.. sounds very dull and obvious but drivers should at least have some assurance that if any debris are present or even a bird falls, or someone throws a bottle cap (which at 175Mph turns into a bullet) that they do not have to chose between life and death. I must say that I see the possibility of enclosed cockpits positive – perhaps something like the F18 cockpit would be excellent. If its safe for the plane it surely could be made safe for the F1.

  63. James Allen says this on twitter:

    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

  64. A few comments have been removed from this thread. For obvious reasons I am not going to allow potentially libellous material on the site.

    If you have a question about a comment that has been removed please get in touch: https://www.racefans.net/credits-and-contacts/contact-f1fanatic

  65. I hope Massa will recover quickly but wouldnt it be great if Schumi came back to cover for him !!!! them would really put the cat amongest the pigions

  66. suddenly 1pm tomorrow does not have the same excitment as normal. puts it all in perspective.

    hope to see massa ride again soon.

    it’s a thin line we walk, lets not go ott with F1 safety etc it the best it’s ever been no matter what we all think about the powers that be when it comes to safety for the drivers, marshalls and fans they are top class.

  67. First of all my best wishes to Felipe Massa and his family during this horrible time, and I really hope Felipe recovers from this and has no lasting damage. I am still in shock, like most of us are, after watching today’s events unfold.
    It is inescapable to not think of qualifying for the 1994 Imola Gp upon watching the events of Hungary. For many years, Formula One has endured a long period of relative safety for its drivers. Sadly, we have lost atleast two stewards due to loose debris since Imola 1994, but no drivers.
    The problem ‘all’ open wheel racing faces, and has always faced, is that the cars maybe stronger and more durable, but the drivers are still human beings. You can not make the human body stronger or more durable.
    We have also become accustomed to seeing drivers walk away from some terrible accidents, such as Villeneuve and Burti in 2001, Robert Kubica in 2007, and Heikki Kovalainen in 2008.
    Many if not all of the current F1 drivers have never had the horrific displeasure of seeing a rival competitor killed during a race, a sight not unseen years ago.
    We live in an age when we believe in our technologic know how, but the risks are as present today as they were in 1994 and before. The events that befell Felipe Massa, and claimed the life of Henry Surtees, were events that know one could have forseen nor changed.
    Just when you think you have all the bases covered, fate deals a hand you never saw coming. Doing speeds in excess of 200mph in itself is life threatening, whether the cars are enclosed or not. Drivers are still killed driving enclosed racing cars, some trapped by the very devices that are supposed to protect them.
    The olders Fanatics can cast their minds back to 1973, and the day Roger Williamson burned to death in his overturned March as the entire F1 pack roured by. At the time, some questioned the usage of seatbelts in F1 cars, blaming the belts and poor organisation for Roger’s death. As I said ‘the hand you never see coming’.

  68. If true, that is very good news indeed.

  69. I dont thing the spring was coming that fast, I thing it was just boucning around on the road. Massas’ speed makes it appear as though it was “shot” towards him

  70. Has anyone else commented that in the video it appears that Massa holds down both the throttle and brake after being hit on the head.

    This would suggest that he was immediately knocked unconsciousness (not in the semi-conscious state interpreted by Brundle and others).

    1. His subconscious mind was still even having him pressing the buttons. A part of his mind was concussed. But another part was still in automatic mode carrying out the normal routine for that corner.

      1. I don’t agree. It looks like he’s downshifting but I am sure that is just his hands wobbling about because his grip has loosened having being knocked unconscious.

  71. If Rubens Barrichello said he is OK,then we need to trust.FINGER CROSSED.

    1. Damn. Sure didn’t take Bernie long. All of the Massa crash vids are gone from youTube due to “copyright restrictions”.

      Guess he figures no one can see if they aren’t paying. You’d think, just this once, but no.

  72. aki o momento

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