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

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

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

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  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?

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