Felipe Massa has all but ruled out a return to the cockpit at this season's Formula One finale in Abu Dhabi, despite medical reports claiming that his left eye has now fully healed after the qualifying accident he suffered in July's Hungarian Grand Prix.
The Brazilian had expressed an interest in completing his recovery from the 'life-threatening' injuries he sustained at the Hungaroring before the 2009 campaign was over but, as with another planned return at Monza, he has now admitted that it is unlikely to happen.
The admission comes despite the Ferrari team confirming that Massa's vision has recovered fully, and that he will make an initial return to the cockpit of an F1 car when he takes the wheel at Fiorano on Monday [12 October]. The 2008 season runner-up has been at Ferrari's Maranello base since the beginning of the week, and regularly working in the team's F1 simulator.
Ferrari's claims about its driver's health, which appeared on the team's official website, come after Massa flew to Paris for neurological and ophthalmological tests at Pitie Salpetriere Hospital. The examinations, conducted by the FIA, will continue today [Saturday], but doctors are already satisfied with the Brazilian's progress, especially considering that his eyesight was rumoured to have been in danger immediately after the incident.
"The first outcomes are positive, especially the ophthalmological exam which confirmed that Felipe, who arrived with his personal doctor Dino Altmann, has recovered the functions of his left eye by 100 per cent," Ferrari said, before confirming that Massa would be in his native Brazil for next weekend's penultimate grand prix, where he will wave the chequered flag over what could be the title decider.
Having won last season's finale on home soil, Massa had hoped to return for this year's equivalent in Abu Dhabi on 1 November, but now admits that he is more likely to concentrate on winter testing before returning to the grid for next season's opening round in Bahrain.
"My hope is to come back soon, although I know the ideal thing is to return 100 per cent [fit] at the start of next season," he conceded, "My dream would be to be at Abu Dhabi, but the chances of this happening are very, very small."
The Brazilian, who will line up alongside new signing Fernando Alonso in 2010, has paid tribute to the technology that helped to save not only his sight, but maybe also his life too.
"The fact that we have carbon-fibre helmets makes the difference," he admitted during a recent webchat, "If my accident had happened many years ago, the outcome would have been very different. But we're still working together with the FIA and the helmet manufacturers to improve safety further. I didn't feel any pain not even when I woke up in Budapest. Obviously, medicine helped me a lot but, all in all, I didn't have any problems."
Despite the obvious concerns of his family, Massa revealed that there was never any pressure on him to stop racing - and he even planned to have a permanent reminder of the incident at home in Brazil.
"Only once [my wife Raffaela] asked me if I wanted to stop, but I told her that I don't and she understood," he said, "She asked me if there was at least a possibility of one per cent and I told her that there were not even half a per cent.
"And the helmet from Budapest? I'll have it in my house together with the others; it's part of my life."