Felipe Massa crashes after being struck by debris during qualifying

2009 Hungarian Grand Prix

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

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

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

  1. David said on 25th July 2009, 14:56

    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.

    • Tiomkin said on 25th July 2009, 16:24

      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.

      • Mark Hitchcock said on 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).

  2. Aaron Shearer said on 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.

    • pSynrg said on 25th July 2009, 15:01

      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.

      • Ronman said on 25th July 2009, 15:23

        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.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th July 2009, 23:35

        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:

    • Matt Fallon said on 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…

    • Tiomkin said on 25th July 2009, 16:30

      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.


  4. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th July 2009, 15:04

    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.

    • Ronman said on 25th July 2009, 15:20

      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.

      • Oliver said on 26th July 2009, 2:03

        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.

    • pSynrg said on 25th July 2009, 15:13

      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.

      • Spud said on 25th July 2009, 21:24

        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.

    • gabal said on 25th July 2009, 15:30

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

  5. Zazeems said on 25th July 2009, 15:08

    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)

  6. Tom said on 25th July 2009, 15:21

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

    • Tom said on 25th July 2009, 15:28

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

  7. WHoever said on 25th July 2009, 15:27

    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!

    • pSynrg said on 25th July 2009, 16:01

      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?

    • Bernard said on 25th July 2009, 16:06

      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.

      • Whoever said on 25th July 2009, 16:33

        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!!

        • Whoever said on 25th July 2009, 16:37

          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

          • Whoever said on 25th July 2009, 16:42

            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!

          • pSynrg said on 25th July 2009, 16:45

            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…

          • Whoever said on 25th July 2009, 16:51

            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

          • pSynrg said on 25th July 2009, 17:22

            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?) :)

          • Whoever said on 25th July 2009, 17:30

            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

  8. 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…

  9. Lynn said on 25th July 2009, 15:34

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

  10. adz2193 said on 25th July 2009, 15:35

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

  11. Yuma said on 25th July 2009, 15:37

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

  12. sprint_9 said on 25th July 2009, 15:45

    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.

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