Ferrari Formula One driver Felipe Massa has improved significantly after his accident at the Hungarian Grand Prix qualifiers, a senior hospital official announced on Monday.
Massa is conscious, no longer on a respirator, and has spoken with his family, said Andor Grosz, deputy manager of the AEK military hospital in Budapest where Massa underwent emergency surgery on Saturday after suffering a fractured skull.
"His condition continues to be stable and has improved significantly in the past 24 hours," Grosz told a news conference. "He is communicating, his temperature is normal, and he can move his arms and legs. He is quite drowsy at the moment," Grosz added. Grosz said he believed Massa stood a chance of complete recovery.
Queried about an eye injury the Brazilian driver suffered, doctors were unable to respond unequivocally. It will be another seven to ten days before Massa's condition allows the eye tests needed for a definite answer.
Family members said they were quite satisfied with the treatment he had received and were not thinking of moving him. The family said Massa had questioned them about what had happened to him.
Massa suffered the injury during a qualifying round on Saturday when a steel spring weighing close to a kilogram came loose from the car in front of him, driven by Brawn GP's Rubens Barrichello, hitting him in the head. He crashed straight into the rubber tire retaining wall. He was hospitalized with skull fractures and underwent surgery almost immediately.
Massa has been racing in Formula-1 since 2002 and was second in the 2008 world championship.
According to local wire service MTI, Fiat and Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo said he was optimistic about Massa's recovery after visiting the hospital on Monday and speaking to Massa's wife and parents.
"It was an incredible accident, but luckily we do not have the same situation as in 1976, when I visited Niki Lauda, who was covered with burns, after the accident in Nuremberg," Montezemolo said. "We can hardly wait to see him back on the team and I am sure Felipe will be back and one of the best F1 drivers in the field," he said.
(Xinhua News Agency July 28, 2009)