Massa Probably Out. Schumacher Possibly In?
While the news from Ferrari F1 driver Felipe Massa’s doctors is positive, it is sounding highly unlikely that he will be able to return to the cockpit to complete the remainder of the 2009 Formula 1 season.
Sports newswires are abuzz with speculation as to who Ferrari will approach to act as a stand-in driver for Massa, who sustained serious head and eye injuries during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix this past weekend. And the general feeling seems to be that multiple F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher could make a return to the Ferrari drivers’ seat, at least for the next few Grands Prix.
Massa remains in a serious but stable condition at the AEK military hospital in Budapest after being struck on the head by a spring that had fallen from the back of Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn GP car.
“He is getting better. He spoke to several people in three different languages. He was giving coherent answers to people so the signs are improving,” Ferrari’s official spokesman, Luca Colajanni said. “He was also able to open his left eye and he could see out of it. So there are only positive signs at present.”
Colajanni also admitted it was “possible” the seven-time champion Michael Schumacher could replace Massa on a short-term basis while the Brazilian continues his recovery.
Two concerns that may stymie the return of the F1 ace are his age (he’s 40, which is pretty long-in-the-tooth for a F1 driver) and a neck injury he suffered earlier this year while competing in a motorcycle race. Schumachers’ spokeswomen told BBC sport: “The whole thing will be considered by Ferrari. If they approach Michael, then he will consider it.”
With Schumachers’ long association with the team, his Advisor status at Maranello, and his high knowledge of the 2009 Ferrari F1 car, he would be an obvious pick to fill the seat.
If seeing Shumi in a Ferrari F1 is not possible, some of the other likely candidates could be:
- Luca Badoer: Ferrari’s test driver for the past 10 years.
- Marc Gené: Ferrari’s second test driver.
- Sebastien Bourdais: Recently axed from his Toro Rosso seat, is a long shot.