Massa Still In Life-Threatening, But Stable Condition Following Crash

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) -- Ferrari driver Felipe Massa remained in "life-threatening" but stable condition on Sunday following surgery on multiple skull fractures.

Peter Bazso, the AEK hospital medical director, told reporters that Massa would be kept sedated until Monday, but will be woken up periodically during that time.

When asked whether Massa's life remained in danger, Bazso answered: "Yes, of course."

Bazso said doctors were able to "remove the broken bones and stabilize the area," procedures required to treat "an open skull fracture and a contusion" that Massa received during a crash in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday.

He did not speculate how long it would take Massa to recover, or whether there would be any long-term effects of the injury.

"At the moment, we have to overcome this life-threatening condition," Bazso said, adding that a CT scan revealed "expected results after an operation of this type."

Massa's parents and wife arrived at the hospital Sunday after flying in from Brazil, and doctors woke Massa temporarily to check on his condition and so that he could see his family.

Team principal Stefano Domenicali and several Ferrari staff were also on hand to support Massa's family, which included pregnant wife Anna Rafaela.

During Sunday's race, Ferrari's garage displayed a banner reading "Forza Felipe Siamo Con Te" -- or "Be Strong Felipe, We Are With You."

"Yesterday was a quite sad day, (and) to not see Felipe with us today," said race winner Lewis Hamilton, who beat Massa by a single point in the 2008 title race following a battle that stretched to the final corner of the final lap of the season. "We miss him and wish him well and wish him a speedy recovery."

The spring from Rubens Barrichello's Brawn GP car bounced into Massa's helmet as the 28-year-old driver reached speeds of about 120 mph. The impact concussed Massa, who plowed into the protective tire barrier.

Massa, who finished runner-up to Lewis Hamilton in the F1 championship last year, underwent surgery around 4:20 p.m. local time Saturday, about an hour after being airlifted to the hospital. He was conscious at the time.

The impact of the rear suspension part, believed to be made of steel, damaged the left side of Massa's helmet, ripping out the visor and leaving a long gash in its side. Blood was seen on Massa's left brow.

The crash came less than a week after Henry Surtees, the son of former F1 champion John Surtees, died in similar circumstances an F2 race last Sunday. Surtees was struck in the head by a tire from another car, causing him to lose consciousness and drive into a barrier.

Another mechanical failure occurred in Sunday's race, when pole-sitter Fernando Alonso was forced to retire after losing a tire on the 13th lap.

Governing body FIA was expected to launch an investigation into Massa's crash after several drivers and team principals called for safety measures to be re-examined.

No F1 driver has died on the track since three-time champion and fellow Brazilian Ayrton Senna's crash at Imola 15 years ago.


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