Massa doctors encouraged by signs of improvement

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The Independent Online

Inevitably, Felipe Massa's absence cast a pall over the paddock on Sunday, but yesterday it was confirmed that the long-term prognosis is good for a full recovery.

The 28-year-old Brazilian was struck on the left side of his head by a spring from the central rear damper of Rubens Barrichello's Brawn at the end of the second qualifying session on Saturday afternoon.

Stunned, he crashed head-on into a tyre barrier, and after attention at the circuit medical centre he was sedated and transferred to the AEK military hospital in Budapest where it was confirmed he had suffered two skull fractures — one on the left frontal lobe and the other basal – severe bruising to the left lobe, and facial cuts.

Procedures on the skull fractures were carried out by chief surgeon Lajos Zsiros, and medical director Peter Bazso confirmed that they had been successful.

Medics woke Massa from his induced coma yesterday morning, when he demonstrated satisfactory strength and that all his vital signs and reflexes were positive. Doctors were also encouraged that he was immediately able to recognise his personal doctor, Dino Altman, who unbeknown to him had travelled overnight from Sao Paulo with Massa's parents Luis Antonio and Elena.

Massa will remain in and out of induced coma for at least another 48 hours as doctors monitor the contusions. He is likely to be out of racing for the rest of the year as he recovers.

Yesterday, his driving colleagues paid tribute to a charismatic man who is immensely popular.

"We've had a great relationship for some years now, some great battles, and it was definitely sad not to see him today," Lewis Hamilton said. "But we keep him in our thoughts and prayers. He's got a child coming so we hope when he's finally a dad he can come back and do the job again."

Mark Webber added: "It's very unfortunate, what happened. We have a phenomenal safety record in Formula One, and yesterday was incredibly freakish. But it happens. It's part of the job we do, and we are all very relieved things went OK last night. I'm sure he'll be back in a few months. He has good people around him, and the FIA do a good job. We missed him on grid today, but the show goes on."

Kimi Raikkonen, Massa's team-mate since 2007, said: "This is a part of racing and we all know that, but it's a sad thing to happen."