Saturday, 25 July 2009

Felipe Massa in Budapest Hospital after "Groundhog Day" accident

Have you ever had one of those moments when something you’ve only just heard about suddenly comes up in a random conversation?

Maybe it’s just me.

But the same thing was only just avoided in the world of motorsport this weekend.

Six days after we lost F2 driver Henry Surtees after he was struck on the head by a loose wheel from a car that had hit the barriers ahead of him, we seem to have frighteningly close to a Groundhog Day like follow up in Formula 1.

In the final minutes of the second part of qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix TV pictures cut away from showing the normal range of angles following drivers through the final corners, and over the finish line, to show a Ferrari embedded in a tyre wall, in an state similar to Heikki Kovalainen’s crash at Barcelona last year.

As marshalls poured over and round the wall to attend to the car, it became apparent that all was not well. One marshall signalled frantically for the medical car as it lapped the track at the end of the session.

Massa wasn’t out of the car.

One ambulance pulled up, then another. TV cameras focused in the normally unimportant scene of a track doctor walking down the pit lane.

No replays were being shown, everything was speculation. Just as motorsport was getting back to normal, fans were thinking the worse again.

Then, facts began to emerge. Massa had been struck on the head by a piece of debris.

Oh no, not again, we can’t do this again.

Track workers scoured the track walking in search lines as if searching for a murder weapon in a field.

Mass was out of the car, the pictures showed him moving. Rubens Barrichello, Massa’s countryman had spoken to him.

The fears abated.

However, Massa is possibly the luckiest man on the planet right now.

Disagree? Take a glance at the top picture on this Finnish website - , which despite my lack of Finnish language skills, at this point may be taken as genuine,

As you can see by the soft tissue (sorry, getting medical) damage the relatively thin visor appears to have afforded very little protection from the suspension spring that has been revealed as the culprit by TV replays.

If that spring had hit him in the centre of that visor, rather than a glancing blow to the side of the helmet, then. Well, I would be writing a totally different article right now.

By latest update, some three-and-a-half-hours after the event, while the official F1 website reports Massa as “safe” there are still some rather worrying words being used in updates. He remains in intensive care in a Budapest hospital, where he will be kept in for observation.

It is expected he will need surgery on the injury, which includes bone damage to the brain, and a serious concussion.

Thus he will not take the green flag tomorrow, while the rest of the his season is unclear, especially with F1 taking a month break before the next round.

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