Massa unlikely to return this year says Ecclestone

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The Independent Online

Formula One rights holder Bernie Ecclestone does not believe Felipe Massa will drive again this season - but doubts Michael Schumacher can replace him at Ferrari.

Massa's future in the sport has been called into question due to an eye injury suffered in Saturday's qualifying crash at the Hungarian Grand Prix which left him in a coma.



The Brazilian's condition has since improved and Ecclestone is confident he will be back in the cockpit, but not this year.



"I spoke to the hospital and they're now very hopeful that it's certainly not as bad as they expected it would be," Ecclestone told BBC Radio Five Live.



"It's difficult to say whether or not he's going to be in a position to compete this year. Next year I don't know, but I doubt we'll see him this year.



"One thing that's good is that they're very, very hopeful that the eye's not anywhere near as bad as they thought."



Seven-time world champion Schumacher, who won five of those titles with the Italian team, has been suggested as a candidate to replace Massa for the rest of the season.



The 40-year-old remains an advisor to Ferrari following his retirement in 2006, however Ecclestone does not think he is in good enough physical shape to make a shock return.



"I doubt whether he will," he added.



"That guy, you must remember, was super-fit when he was driving, and to get as fit as that again and be prepared to get back in a car without any testing would be asking too much."



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