Felipe Massa has admitted that the chances of him rejoining the F1 grid in the inaugural 2009 season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in just under three weeks' time are 'very, very low' – as Ferrari revealed that lap times are not the goal on the Brazilian's testing return at Fiorano today.
As the final stage in his recovery process from the fractured skull and serious head and eye injuries he sustained in his freak qualifying accident at the Hungaroring in late July – when a rear suspension spring flew off the Brawn GP of compatriot Rubens Barrichello just ahead of him on the track and struck his helmet as he travelled at almost 200mph – the Paulista will get behind the wheel of a two-year-old F2007 at Ferrari's test track, his first outing in an F1 car since that fateful Saturday in Budapest.
That comes after a number of days spent on the Scuderia's
simulator at its Maranello headquarters, and clearance from the FIA following a successful medical examination in Paris over the weekend – but it is understood that the governing body has advised Ferrari against
putting Massa back in a race situation before 2010.
“The event is significant, but in no way does it signify a return to competition in the near future,” read an official team statement. “In fact, based on a previously taken decision and after an informal medical examination in Paris a few days ago – which proved rather positive, but not enough to endorse a return to competition in the next two months – Felipe and the team want to proceed gradually and without any hurry, to recover as well as possible from the effects of the accident that happened in Budapest back on 25 July.
“This is in no way a proper test session, and looking at the stopwatch will not be on the agenda – there will be plenty of time for that in 2010, when, alongside Fernando Alonso, he will begin development work of the new single-seater. It is simply an opportunity for Felipe to renew his acquaintance with his natural environment, namely the race track. The Brazilian driver will do a few laps at the wheel of a privately-owned F2007, run by staff of Ferrari's F1 Clienti department.”
With the test being billed as an opportunity simply for Massa to re-acclimatise himself to his 'office' and the physical strain of an F1 car – as well as to help re-establish his confidence and feeling – the 2008 world championship runner-up acknowledged himself that the healing process could yet be a long one.
“I hope that I'll be back soon, but I also know that the best thing is that I come back 100 per cent at the start of next season,” the 28-year-old told the official Ferrari website. “My dream would be to race in Abu Dhabi, but the possibility is really, really low.”