Felipe Massa will not be returning to Formula One this season, his Ferrari team have officially announced.
The Brazilian has been out of action since a freak crash in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix left him with life-threatening head injuries. The speed of his recovery from a fractured skull has prompted speculation he could take the wheel of the Ferrari for the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi on November 1. Indeed Massa will get back on the track in a private test at Ferrari’s Maranello headquarters in Italy on Monday, but the team insist that is merely a stepping stone for next season. “This is in no way a proper test session and looking at the stopwatch will not be on the agenda – there will be plenty of time for that in 2010, when, alongside Fernando Alonso, he will begin development work of the new single-seater,” read a statement on the team’s oficial Web site www.ferrari.com. Ferrari did reveal that a medical check up that Massa underwent in Paris last Friday proved “rather positive” but emphasized it did not signal a dream return. “Felipe and the team want to proceed gradually and without any hurry to recover as well as possible from the effects of the accident that happened in Budapest back on 25th July.
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“Therefore talk of a proper return to Formula One can wait until the start of the 2010 season and only at that time will the medical checks be carried out, as required by the FIA in order to allow someone who has been injured to return to racing.” Giancarlo Fisichella will continue to deputize for Massa for the remaining two races of the season in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, driving alongside Kimi Raikkonen of Finland. Raikkonen is leaving the team at the end of the season to be replaced by two-time world champion Alonso, who will carry Ferrari’s hopes for 2010 alongside 2008 title runner-up Massa. The 28-year-old Massa was hit in the head by a spring which fell from the Brawn GP car of fellow Brazilian Rubens Barrichello. There were fears for his life in the immediate aftermath of the horror crash as he lay in an induced for coma in a military hospital in Budapest. Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher was slated to replace him in a sensational return to Formula One, but the German superstar had to cut short his comeback due to a neck injury. Test driver Luca Badoer proved a below-par replacement and Fisichella, who will stay at the Ferrari next season as the reserve driver, jumped ship from Force India for the drive.