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Yesderday during Formula 1 qualifying in Hungary, Ferrari's Felipe Massa suffered a life-threatening head injury when a spring from Reubens Barrichello's car struck him in the helmet. As you'll see in the ESPN video posted after the jump, the impact appears to knock the Brazilian unconscious; immediately after the incident, his car simply drives straight into the runoff area and tire wall.

Massa was reportedly conscious when he arrived at the hospital, where he received a CT scan and underwent successful surgery to treat two skull fractures suffered as a result of the accident. He was placed into an induced coma immediately following the procedure and remains in intensive care. Doctors talking to the BBC described his condition as stable and said there were no complications following the operation. Another brain scan will be performed on Massa later today, after which the medical team will update his condition. Massa's injury comes on the heels of Henry Surtees' death last weekend, the result of the young driver being struck in the head by a flying tire. Massa's on-track incident left some F1 personnel openly wondering whether it's time to make changes that improve cockpit safety for drivers. Fortunately, things appear to be progressing well for Massa, and we wish him a speedy and full recovery. Follow the jump for ESPN's video report on the incident, which includes the on-car-camera view of what happened.

UPDATE: Click here for the latest update on Massa's condition, his future in racing and consequences for Renault.

[Sources: Sky News, Formula1.com, The New York Times | Video: ESPN | Image: Paul Gilham/Getty Images]





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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 44 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      This was pretty scary to watch; it wasn't even during the race. Thankfully it appears that Massa will be okay. It's hard to believe that no F1 driver has been killed during a GP weekend since 1994. There are very few, if any, major motorsport series that can make that claim. However, it looks like it might be time to seriously reevaluate safety in F1.
        • 5 Years Ago
        any valid comparison would have to be hours behind the wheel/incident

        if 300 guys are running a 24 hour race, that is more time behind the wheel than whole seasons of other racing leagues
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well, it depends on how often you race, partially.

        NASCAR last had a driver death on a race weekend in 2001. They have had 178 races since a driver death.
        F1 had their last driver death on a race weekend 1994, they have had 259 races since a driver death. This does not count the deaths of race marshals on race weekends in 2000 and 2001.
        IRL last had a driver death on a race weekend in 1996 (their inaugural race!), they have had 179 races since a driver death.
        WRC last had a driver death in 2006, they have had 51 races since a driver death.
        Grand-Am has never had a driver death (the series started in 2000) on a race weekend. They have had 132 races without a driver death.
        American Le Mans has never had a driver death (series started in 1999), they have run 106 races without a driver death.
        Le Mans last had a driver death at an event in 1997, they have had 12 races since a driver death.

        This counts multi-weekend events (where practice is the week before or earlier like Daytona, Le Mans or the Indy 500) as a "race weekend".

        So yeah, F1 is doing well in terms of driver deaths. But if NASCAR were to go 10 years without a driver death it would be more events without a death than F1 has gone so far even though it would be a 15 year span like you speak of here. Of course, if you count distance driven, NASCAR would probably already be far ahead (and Le Mans wouldn't look quite so bad). WRC of course, would look even more dangerous (and it sure is).
        • 5 Years Ago
        LS2LS7 - Jeff Clinton was killed in Grand Am practice for Homestead in 2002. This precipitated Grand Am's move from open-top prototypes to the awful Daytona Prototypes you see today.

        Homestead also saw the fatality of IRL's Paul Dana in 2006 during practice. Greg Moore and Gonzalo Rodriquez's fatalities in 1999 in Champ Car should also be considered somewhere. Open wheel racing in North America is far more deadly than Formula 1 in it's current state and it is only by sheer fortune that Kenny Brack and Katherine Legge survived their crashes in the past few years.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You say it's a miracle Legge wasn't killed? I say the same about Kubica. Both survived due to a combination of luck and safety equipment.

        I find it bizarre to say F1 is a safer series when they have such lax pit regulations (injuring a crewmember is an automatic exclusion in American open wheel), when they killed two marshalls in two years and when they resisted the HANS device for so long.

        IRL races 200-500 miles at a time, F1 races 130. IRL races 33 cars at a time (on a good weekend), F1 had 21 this weekend. Given this discrepancy, the difference in death rate between the two is not large.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Open wheel road racing is inherently more dangerous, it's pretty pointless to make the comparison to stock cars on an oval. The biggest strides in safety for oval racing came in the redesign of the tracks themselves.
      • 5 Years Ago
      According to calculations of speed and weight, the hit was approximately 1600 pounds or pressure. Incredible shot. I really hope he's okay. That could EASILY be a career-ender if he gets severe sepsis or has problems with dropping blood pressure while in the coma. It can seriously affect your mobility...permanently. Get well soon Felipe!!!!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Anyone else read the F1 technical analysis of the crash?

      http://www.formula1.com/news/technical/2009/815/681.html

      We've all seen the video - the one AB's posted is one of the most detailed of the incident - yet they're trying to claim it hit two pieces of the car before hitting his helmet? How do you get a 4 inch gouge in your helmet, a fractured skull, brain concussion and cut to your forehead if this 800g piece deflects off two parts of the car before hitting you? I'd like to know how they've come to this conclusion.

      Get well Felipe.

        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree with the first half of the crash analysis where it's first impact point was just above the driver's cockpit. You can see the paint get scraped as a white line appear one fram prior to the spring hitting Massa.

        As for the second half being the second impact point on the foam driver's guard thingy (idk the technical name) seems bleak when you look at the damage done to his helmet. even the video shows direct impact but unless they have some angle of the incident in which we haven't seen; it's really trivial at this point...Glad he's okay. They said his CT scans were positive and have been inducing him into a coma to help with his recovery, waking him in between to check on him..
        • 5 Years Ago
        Why would it matter how many parts of the car it deflected off? A ricochet bullet is just as deadly.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Felipe hope you will be well again soon!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yep. Saw it during qualifying. Quite scary to say the least, the impact to the head knocked him unconscious on one of the fastest parts of the track, ending up in huge head on crash with tire barrier.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What the hell are the odds...amazing.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Thank God, he survived. Get well soon Massa.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think unfortunately it's probably going to take him a little while to get back to feeling normal again and this might even be a career ender even if it didn't kill him.
        They likely put him in a coma because his brain was swelling up from the injury, which is good since it'll help him heal but it also means that his brain suffered enough injury that a lot of brain cells are dying right now.
        Brain injuries are really scary stuff since it's literally like a part of you dies, since whatever brain cells that die take whatever they did with them and can totally affect your personality, memories, and all kinds of skills from talking to driving. You can relearn those things but having other brain cells you have left take over the job but obviously if you're competing at the top of your sport and the part of your brain that made you a top-level driver gets damaged you'll never be able to relearn it to quite that level.
        Hopefully whatever got damaged didn't harm his driving abilities because that's the worst thing when this kind of injury takes away your career and the core of who you are.
      • 5 Years Ago
      That is some gnarly sh*t. I wonder how fast that spring must have been moving to break through his helmet and crack his skull. A sobering reminder that despite all of our safety technology (like the kind that saved Kubica) racing is still a dangerous sport. I'm glad that this one didn't end in tragedy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ Mr.Oak


        What the hell?! Barichello has nothing to do with it. No matter what you don´t like about your team or driver, nobody would do that on porpouse. I remenber Alonso openly criticising Renaut before he went to McLaren, and when he returned nobody sabotaged his car. Everyone in this business take these risks VERY seriously and no matter what, none of them would ever think of sabotaging a car. Racing is a dangerous profession on it´s own, this kind of thing happens eventualy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Freak accident though. Of all the places that spring could have gone, it hit his helmet. Which is a tiny little spec in the scale of things...

        It happens...
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ Mr.Oak

        Have you never heard of Occam's razor? It is far more likely to be human error to blame.

        @why not the LS2LS7?

        As I understand it, neither of the skull fractures were due to the crash itself but both were sustained by the spring. It is easy to suspect the crash itself, however in mandating the HANS device they have effectively elliminated the fatal basilar skull injury (Of the type fatal to Dale Earnhardt). A good example of this was Robert Kubica's huge crash in 2004 in which his HANS device undoubtedly saved him. The confusion is due to the term "Basilar" used to describe his injury. This term implies the bottom of the skull with the presumed implication that it referes to the back of the head near the top of the spine (occipital region), however it actually refers to the lower part of the skull anywhere on a 360 degree plane. The injury just above his left eye socket shown in many photos therefore constitutes a basilar skull fracture. This injury was undoubtedly the spring impacting with the weaker visor area of his helmet. In addition to this the most pertinent evidence that this was not a high speed crash related injury is that he is still alive, most skull fracture's of the type you describe at this speed result in death.

        As for Massa's wellbeing, I wish him a swift recovery. However, I believe Ferrari is being coy about the extent of his brain injury. The media focus for now has been on his survival but there seems to be some speculation (I hope inaccurate) that he could have some brain damage however small. It seems fair to say he will be lucky to get away with missing the rest of this season only.



      • 5 Years Ago
      This has been one hell of a month for motorsports and the car world in general.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think his career is over. That is some serious head trauma to overcome. Even if he does make a "full recovery", he'll never truly be 100% again. From what I read, the removed fractured parts of his skull which leads me to believe he will not be able to withstand the insane g forces necessary to be an F1 driver.

      On a different note - big round of applause for the helmet technology. They mentioned during the race that his helmet was made of kevlar and the visor is bullet proof.

      He is a class act and a big loss for F1. I wish him all the best.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Interesting that it took over 24 hours for you to report it... Breaking news???
      • 5 Years Ago
      This happened 24 hours ago..breaking?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I said almost the same thing as you, but had not read all of the comments.
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