Record-breaking seven-time F1 World Champion-turned-advisor Michael Schumacher is the best man for the job of replacing Felipe Massa at Ferrari, argues fellow former multiple title-winner Niki Lauda – dismissing the Scuderia's
test drivers as 'useless' and Sébastien Bourdais as 'a waste of time'.
Massa remains under sedation in the AEK military hospital in Budapest after being struck on the head by a spring – which can weigh anything up to a kilogram – that had detached itself from the rear suspension of the Brawn GP of compatriot Rubens Barrichello during qualifying around the Hungaroring on Saturday.
After being knocked unconscious at 162mph, the Brazilian's Ferrari plunged into the circuit's tyre barriers at 62mph and he later required surgery for a fracture to his skull in two places, was placed in an induced coma in intensive care and has since undergone a brain scan.
The results of the scan were described as 're-assuring' by Peter Baszo, the doctor treating Massa, adding that the São Paulista did not sustain any neurological damage, is now in an 'acute phase' of treatment and will not be re-awoken again until Tuesday.
“I think he's okay,” remarked F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who visited the eleven-time grand prix-winner on Saturday evening. “Everybody seemed quite happy with him. The hospital is happy, which is more important. I'm waiting to see if I can go see him again. If he is awake then I'll go.”
Meanwhile, with concerns over Massa's sight [see separate story – click here
], doctors have revealed that it is extremely unlucky that the 2008 world championship runner-up will compete again this season – if indeed ever. That raises the question about a replacement, with the most obvious names in the frame being Ferrari test drivers Marc Gené and Luca Badoer.
However, the former has not raced at the highest level since 2004 and not full-time in almost a decade – though he has since achieved considerable success in sportscars with Peugeot – and the latter was overlooked by the Maranello-based outfit in favour of Mika Salo after Schumacher broke his leg at Silverstone back in 1999, and last started a grand prix in 1999.
Lauda is scornful of both – as well as of Bourdais, on the market again following his controversial sacking by Scuderia Toro Rosso earlier this month and managed, like Massa, by Nicolas Todt, son of former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt. There is, the Austrian contends, only one man who could adequately step into Massa's shoes – even if he is now 40-years-old and has not raced in the top flight since the 2006 finale in Brazil.
“I've no idea how Michael is mentally,” the 25-time grand prix-winner is quoted as having said by the Press Association
, “but who else [is there]? Who is available? There is nobody available anywhere near Michael's performance. I was thinking about it, and there is nobody.