Formula One legend Michael Schumacher has admitted his relief after visiting stricken Ferrari driver Felipe Massa in hospital.
The seven-time world champion has agreed to come out of retirement to replace Massa in the short term following the Brazilian’s freak accident in Hungary which left him fighting for his life. The 40-year-old had not previously had the time to visit Massa, last year’s world championship runner-up, as he has been undergoing medical tests and getting up to speed for his eagerly-anticipated racing return by practicing in a 2007 Ferrari. He told his personal Web site that he felt better after actually seeing Massa — who is managed by Nicolas Todt, son of former Ferrari team boss Jean — at Budapest’s AEK hospital. “Good that I finally made it to see Felipe, I feel better now. Even if I was in close contact with him via Nicolas and Jean and informed about everything, it still is better to see it with your own eyes,” Schumacher said on Saturday. “I am surprised at his extreme positive condition, as the accident was only one week ago. We sat together for around three hours and were chatting with each other. I really feel relieved now.” Felipe Massa’s crash in pictures. » Schumacher said that he was tired and sore after Friday’s sessions in the old Ferrari — he is not allowed to drive a current model due to the testing ban this season. “I have to say that today I feel muscles I was not even aware anymore that they exist,” he said. “But then it was clear that you cannot test for a day after such a lot of time without feeling anything, and I am curious to see what will happen in the coming days.”
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Massa is expected to return home on Monday, just nine days after fracturing his skull in a freak accident during qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix. He is continuing to make a good recovery after having emergency surgery for life-threatening injuries he sustained after being struck full on the helmet by a suspension spring that had fallen off the Brawn of fellow Brazilian Rubens Barrichello. He was knocked unconscious and his car hurtled into a tire barrier at 200kph in the final qualifying for Sunday’s race which was won by Lewis Hamilton, who pipped Massa to the world title last season. Operated on at the AEK military hospital in Budapest, Massa spent two days in a medically-induced coma, but since coming around has improved rapidly. His personal doctor, Dino Altmann, told reporters Friday that Massa had made rapid strides. “He is doing very well, and we have already decided to go back home on Monday to Sao Paulo.” Altmann said he would complete his recuperation at home rather than returning to Europe.
“He is to continue his recovery and return to racing as soon as possible, that’s the plan,” added Altmann. Early fears that Massa may have lost some sight in his left eye as a result of the accident appear to have receded, but he will be replaced at the European Grand Prix in Valencia in three weeks’ time by Schumacher.