Massa's F1 future in doubt

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The Independent Online

Felipe Massa's Formula One career would today appear to be hanging in the balance following confirmation he has suffered some damage to his left eye.

Massa is currently in intensive care at the AEK military hospital in Budapest after suffering a skull fracture following a freak accident on Saturday during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Although the 28-year-old, still in a medically-induced coma, has shown signs of improvement after undergoing emergency surgery, it has now emerged Massa may have sustained eye problems.

If that is the case, and the Brazilian is unable to see properly in the future, it will mean his days in motor racing are over.

Professor Robert Veres, the surgeon who operated on Massa over the weekend, said: "He has suffered some damage to the eye.

"We don't know if he'll be able to race again."

He added: "I don't know (if he can return). It's too early to say about his future.

"We don't know the extent of the damage. Without an operation it's very hard to evaluate its function."

Earlier today it was claimed that Massa had "a quiet night" as he continued his recovery.

Veres this afternoon confirmed Massa remained sedated "to protect his brain", which has apparently experienced some swelling, but he is out of serious danger.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo visited Massa in hospital today and insisted no decisions would be taken over the Italian marque's direction for the rest of the season until the driver's situation was clarified.

"Our first priority is Felipe's recovery, Felipe's progress and so on," he said.

"Felipe's been an important member of the Ferrari family for many years, since he arrived as a kid, so we all hope he can come back soon."

Di Montezemlo added: "(Team principal Stefano) Domenicali has to think and make good proposals for the future.

"We don't want to wait too long for Felipe, but our first priority now is to find out about Felipe, and only at that moment will we take a decision."

After yesterday's race at the Hungaroring, Massa was visited by Ferrari team principal Domenicali, team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Brawn GP's Rubens Barrichello and boss Ross Brawn.

It was a spring that had worked loose on Barrichello's car that hit Massa on his helmet at 162mph, causing his injuries and subsequent crash into a tyre barrier.

A Ferrari spokesman said: "Felipe had a quiet night. He is okay, and he is due to have another CT scan today."

Doctors at the hospital were encouraged by the positive results of yesterday's first CT scan following surgery, with the hope Massa continues to show steady improvement.

A spokesman for the Hungarian defence ministry, under whose jurisdiction the hospital is run, has been quoted as saying on local television that Massa is starting to "communicate actively".

"He reacts when he's spoken to. We are optimistic a slow recovery is beginning," said Istvan Bocskai, who also confirmed Massa could move his hands and legs.