x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Ferrari realistic on Massa return

Felipe Massa's bid to be fit for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be stepped up this week with a series of tests at Ferrari's simulator at their Maranello base in Italy.

The Ferrari driver Felipe Massa has been given permission to test the Italian team's  2007 car as he looks to regain his fitness.
The Ferrari driver Felipe Massa has been given permission to test the Italian team's 2007 car as he looks to regain his fitness.

SUZUKA // Felipe Massa's bid to be fit for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be stepped up this week with a series of tests at Ferrari's simulator at their Maranello base in Italy. The Brazilian, who is hopeful of taking his place on the grid at the Yas Marina circuit, is also scheduled to test the team's 2007 car pending medical approval. However, Stefano Domenicali, the Ferrari boss, said that Massa, who is still recovering from the head injury sustained in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, had no more than an outside chance of racing at the finale to the season.

"What I can say is that he is not planned to do any driving in Brazil," said Domenicali. "For Abu Dhabi, it is unlikely. For us, the main target is Bahrain next year." Massa, 28, has already tested a kart as he bids to get back to full race fitness but the ultimate test will be when he gets behind the wheel of the 2007 car. He needs to get clearance from FIA medical officials before taking part in test runs at Fiorano but the FIA confirmed at the Japanese Grand Prix that any test would not break the winter testing ban. Massa sustained his injuries after being hit by a spring, which had come loose on Rubens Barrichello's Brawn GP while travelling at 160mph at the Hungaroring in Budapest during a qualifying session.

The Ferrari team principal said: "He will stay with the team this week, he will go and do some training in the simulator, physical training in Maranello and then we will decide when to do this. "Also, because it is compulsory, he has to do an FIA medical check before doing something. And this is something we will decide this week." mmajendie@thenational.ae