While Felipe Massa is recovering well from his injuries, Ferrari has indicated that they do not expect the Brazilian to participate in a Grand Prix before the start of the 2010 championship.
Massa sustained damage to his cranium and left eye last July during Hungarian Grand
Prix qualifying when an 800gr steel spring was ejected from Rubens Barichello's car, hitting the Ferrari driver directly on the helmet. The blow instantly knocked Massa out, sending him into the tyre barriers at 190kph.
Medical checks were carried out in Miami yesterday, including neurometric, impact, cognitive capacity, and eye tests; all had positive outcomes. Following plastic surgery to his forehead next week and a short period of rest, Massa will begin a gradual physical preparation programme.
"I'm very happy about the results," Massa told Ferrari's official website. "After the small surgery in the next days I can finally start to go to the gym to get back into shape and drive some tests in karts.
The 28-year-old indicated he will be taking the steps towards a full recovery one at a time: "At the moment I'm concentrating on taking up physical activities, which is a great step forward."
Ferrari declared that the team is looking forward to counting on Massa "100% for the start of the next racing season."
With five races on the 2009 calendar to go and with Massa definitely out of the picture for the remainder of the season, Ferrari needs to replace its test driver and struggling stand-in Luca Badoer with an experienced racer.
It is strongly expected that Force India driver Giancarlo Fisichella
will take over the second Ferrari starting with the Italian Grand Prix. It was previously rumoured that the Italian was looking at a test driver role with the Maranello-based team starting next year.