F1 »

Massa: I was one millimetre from blindness

Injured Ferrari star Felipe Massa has revealed that the blow he received in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix back in July was a mere millimetre away from leaving him blinded – as doctors claim the Brazilian will return to Formula 1 'even stronger than before'.

After undergoing successful cosmetic surgery to his left eye socket earlier this week, Massa is continuing to recover at home in São Paulo as he awaits another operation to have a titanium infused plate implanted into his head. He contends that it is '100 per cent sure' that he will return to the grid at the start of next season – even if he admits that it would be 'a dream' to be able to rejoin the fray for the 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale at the beginning of November, two weeks on from his home outing at Interlagos which he hopes to attend as a spectator.

Acknowledging that he was unlucky in the extreme to have been the victim of such a freak yet horrific accident – whilst travelling at around 200mph, he was struck on the head by an 800g, metal suspension spring that had flown off the rear of the Brawn GP of compatriot Rubens Barrichello during Q2 at the Hungaroring, piercing his helmet and leaving him with eye damage and a fractured skull that required emergency surgery – Massa has since confirmed that he was indisputably just as lucky the outcome was not substantially more serious still.

“You need to think about luck in different ways,” the 28-year-old told British newspaper The Guardian. “Everything in life has significance, and when something bad happens it's because you need to learn and grow. I think my accident happened for a reason, even if I don't know what that reason was.

“My life has been difficult; it hasn't been easy to get to where I am in my professional career now. Many times, in different categories, I knew that if I didn't win I wouldn't be able to get to the next race for a lack of funding. That helped me to become stronger.

“I was actually very unlucky with the spring in my face, but I was very lucky as well. Every doctor said the same – if the spring had gone one millimetre to the right, I would have lost my sight. One millimetre to the left and who knows? I could have been brain damaged. I was very lucky, and this is more important because it is my life.

“Actually, I am okay. The only problem is I need surgery to close a bone in my head that they took away because it was completely damaged. A normal guy can live like this without any problem, but for a driver, if you have an accident and you have this problem, the recovery is more difficult. I'm going to Europe to use the simulator and drive some go-karts, and then I will know very well if I'm 100 per cent.”

One thing that clearly is '100 per cent' is Massa's determination and commitment to return to active competition, and despite a similar blow to the head from a flying wheel that tragically killed rising Formula Two star Henry Surtees at Brands Hatch earlier in the same month, he is adamant that he has never had any doubts in his mind about coming back – even if he does acknowledge the necessity to continually focus upon improving safety in what has always been and will likely always be a very dangerous sport.

“We need to look for improvements,” the São Paulista stressed. “I'm not saying we need to cover [the cockpit] completely, but maybe there are some other things we can do to the car to stop a wheel from hitting your head. When I come back this is something I want to discuss with (F1 race director) Charlie Whiting, the FIA and the drivers – because we all need to work together.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F60, Spanish F1 Grand Prix, Catalunya, 8th-10th, May, 2009
24.05.2015- Race, William Stevens (GBR) Manor Marussia F1 Team
24.05.2015- Atmosphere
24.05.2015- Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W06
24.05.2015- Podium, winner Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W06
24.05.2015- Race, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MP4-30 out of the race
24.05.2015- Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T
24.05.2015- Race, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MP4-30 is burning after the stop
24.05.2015- Race, Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Honda MP4-30
24.05.2015- Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR10
24.05.2015- Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T
24.05.2015- Race, Max Verstappen (NED) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR10 crash after a contact with Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E23 in St. Devote corner
24.05.2015- Race, Max Verstappen (NED) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR10 crash after a contact with Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E23 in St. Devote corner
24.05.2015- Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T
24.05.2015- Podium, winner Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W06 and HSH Prince Albert of Monaco (MON)
24.05.2015- Race, Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Red Bull Racing RB11
24.05.2015- Race, Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W06
24.05.2015- Race, Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 Team VJM08

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.


September 09, 2009 11:05 AM

if he is "stronger than before", the others on the grid, better watch out. glad to see that he is apparently unaffected by the horrific acident. does anyone know if fia investigation has come up with any conclusion???

© 1999 - 2015 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.