REPORTS: Massa recovering but may never race again, Renault suspended for safety infraction [UPDATE]

In a development mirroring countless racing movies, Felipe Massa's doctors say that the injured driver is showing progress in his recovery, but that he may never race again. The Brazilian pilot, who narrowly missed winning the title last year, was knocked unconscious on Saturday by a loose component off the car of fellow countryman Rubens Barrichello – who coincidentally used to hold Massa's seat at Ferrari – and taken to the hospital in Budapest. Although Massa's injuries are no longer considered life-threatening and he was reportedly able to move limbs according to doctors' instructions, severe damage to his left eye could spell the end of his career.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo visited Massa at the hospital together with team principal Stefano Domenicali, who will stay with Massa's family – including his pregnant wife – another day while doctors determine how much longer he should stay at the Hungarian military facility before being moved closer to home. While Felipe's projected recovery time remains unclear at this point, it looks like he will be out for at least the rest of the season, meaning that the Scuderia will need to find someone suitable to fill his seat. The last time Ferrari had to temporarily replace an injured driver was ten years ago when Michael Schumacher broke his leg at Silverstone. The team then elected to bring in Mika Salo, who supported team-mate Eddie Irvine in securing the constructors' championship for the team, rather than promoting one of its veteran test drivers.

Massa's injuries follow hot on the heels of the Henry Surtees incident that saw the son of former world champion John Surtees killed in a Formula 2 race a week ago, throwing the FIA into action to prevent further incidents. The Renault team was handed a one-race suspension as a penalty for a stray wheel that broke loose from Fernando Alonso's F1 car on Sunday and bounced dangerously down the track on the thirteenth lap of this past weekend's race. The FIA ruled that the team should have alerted its driver to the improperly secured wheel nut, and will subsequently have to sit out the upcoming European Grand Prix at Valencia, considered a home race for the penalized two-time world champion.

UPDATE: We've added a gallery of images taken during and after the incident, though should warn you that the gallery includes a shot of Massa after the accident occurred. It is not for the faint of heart, so don't look if you can't stomach seeing injuries well.

[Sources: Boston Globe and New York Times | Image: MAURICIO LIMA/AFP/Getty]

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