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. 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 :(

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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…

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. i’m thinking schumacher is available.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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?

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

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