Felipe Massa crashes after being struck by debris during qualifying

2009 Hungarian Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

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

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  1. 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…

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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…

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

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

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.


  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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…

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

  14. 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…

  15. 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?

  16. 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?

  17. 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.

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