Recovering Ferrari F1 star Felipe Massa has described his return to the cockpit of this year's F60 at the Scuderia's
annual World Finals event in Valencia at the weekend as being 'like a victory' – as his engineer paid tribute to his 'incredible' desire to succeed.
Massa is continuing to recover from the fractured skull and head and eye injuries he suffered following his freak high-speed accident during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix back in late July – an impact that many had feared might end his career, if not even worse. Happily, though, the popular Brazilian is now well on his way to a full recuperation, and preparing for a return to competitive action in the 2010 curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir in mid-March.
Whilst he has already driven a two-year-old F2007 at Fiorano just over a month ago, the return to the F60 in front of throngs of adoring tifosi
in Valencia was undeniably an emotional moment, as the Paulista got back behind the wheel of 'his' car once more for 20 'demonstration' laps around the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in company with Ferrari team-mates Marc Gené, Giancarlo Fisichella and Luca Badoer – with the latter pairing having separately substituted for him during his enforced absence from the grand prix grid over the second half of 2009.
Other illustrious Ferraris present were the F430 GT of reigning Le Mans 24 Hours GT2 class-winners Risi Competizione, and the similar machine of AF Corse, which swept to the FIA GT Championship teams' and constructors' crowns in 2009. There was, however, a rather unfortunate incident when the legendary Maranello-based équipe's
president Luca di Montezemolo got beached in the gravel trap whilst taking Massa and new 2010 team-mate Fernando Alonso on a parade lap around the track [see video – click here
] – but that failed to put any kind of dampener on an historic day for the 2008 F1 World Championship runner-up.
“It was fantastic and I am so happy!” enthused the 28-year-old, whose wife Raffaella is due to give birth to his first child next week. “Although I could drive just a little, I really enjoyed being here. I am very motivated; this for me is like a victory. It was just like before the accident at the Hungaroring.
“I am very happy that I can work with the team. It's true that I was with them in São Paulo and in Abu Dhabi, but driving is really extraordinary! I also want to thank all the fans, who were really close to me over the last months. The messages I received were wonderful. Let's hope that we can give our fans some satisfaction in 2010 – Fernando and I really want to be the best couple in Formula 1.”
“Felipe has an incredible taste for victory,” added the eleven-time grand prix-winner's race engineer Rob Smedley. “This is another small step ahead in the preparations for his return to racing.”