Felipe Massa has revealed he still receives gifts from fans attending the Hungarian Grand Prix seven years after a freak accident at the Hungaroring left him fighting for his life.
Massa was left in intensive care with skull damage when his helmet was struck by an errant piece of debris during qualifying for the 2009 edition of the race. Knocked unconscious and requiring emergency surgery, though Massa would make a full recovery, the incident would force him out for the remainder of the season.
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It is a career-defining incident that Massa continues to reflect on each time he heads to Hungary, though he says the warmth of the fans and the notoriety he received as a result makes every return a welcome one.
“Hungary is a track where I personally have a lot of history with the accident I had. As a consequence, I have the most amazing fans there who support me a lot.
"They follow me everywhere I go and always have gifts for me. It's an amazing place to go back to and spend time with them.”
With Hungary marking the mid-way point in the 2016 F1 season, Williams heads into the second-half of the season now more than 100 points adrift of third place Red Bull in the constructors' standings, while Force India is just 19 points in arrears.
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Though some have pointed to occasionally lacklustre performances from Williams as a justification for its 'dip in form', Massa feels the margins are being magnified by the massive gains Red Bull has made with its Renault engine.
“I think the biggest change [this year] is related to the Red Bull, they improve a lot,” he said. “Definitely last year the Red Bull had the better car in terms of chassis compared to us, even here, but they didn't have a good engine, so now the engine improved a lot and they even improve more the car I would say, so they are in front in the championship so they are fighting on some of the tracks, even Mercedes, so definitely they are in front of us.
“So when you are third in the championship some of the races are even better than Ferrari and then now you are fourth, so for sure it is more difficult, it's clear.”
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