x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Massa will miss Abu Dhabi GP

The Brazilian drives the 2007 Ferrari F1 car, but his team announce that he will not return to racing this year.

Brazil's Felipe Massa will not be returning to action at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Ferrari team officials have announced.
Brazil's Felipe Massa will not be returning to action at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Ferrari team officials have announced.

Ferrari have confirmed Felipe Massa will not return to Formula One this season. The Brazilian has been sidelined since his skull was fractured in an accident in qualifying for July's Hungarian Grand Prix when a loose spring from Rubens Barrichello's Brawn GP car struck him on the helmet at high speed. Having retained a hope of being fit to take part in the season finale in Abu Dhabi on November 1, Massa, 28, had admitted last week his chances of returning this season were "very, very low". And Ferrari have now ruled it out completely, announcing in a statement that "talk of a proper return to Formula One can wait until the start of the 2010 season". Ferrari revealed the medical check-up Massa underwent in Paris on Friday proved "rather positive" and the Brazilian was back in a Formula One car yesterday when he drove a privately owned F2007 at the Fiorano track near Maranello in Italy - part of a gradual plan to get him back up to speed. The Italian team stressed, however, that this was no indication he was nearing a return to racing action and he would not replace Giancarlo Fisichella for the maiden event at the Yas Marina circuit. A Ferrari spokesperson said prior to yesterday's drive: "This is in no way a proper test session and looking at the stopwatch will not be on the agenda - there will be plenty of time for that in 2010, when, alongside Fernando Alonso, he will begin development work of the new single-seater. "It is simply an opportunity for Felipe to renew his acquaintance with his natural environment, namely the race track." Massa had scored 22 points this season before the accident and had finished once on the podium, at the German Grand Prix, the event prior to Hungary. Despite his injury he will play a part in proceedings at Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix, a race he has won twice in the last three years, even if he will only be waving the chequered flag at the end of the event when the winner crosses the finish line. Massa will now make his racing return at the start of the 2010 season in Bahrain on March 14. Meanwhile, the Toyota driver Timo Glock's participation in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is in doubt because of an injury that is keeping him out of action in Brazil. The German driver crashed heavily in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix earlier this month and missed the race because of a resulting cut to his right leg. Further tests showed that he had also suffered a cracked vertebra in the accident, and his place in Sao Paulo will be taken by Toyota's third driver, Kamui Kobayashi. The Japanese driver will also race in Abu Dhabi if Glock, who has finished twice on the podium this season, in Malaysia and Singapore, has not recovered from his injuries. The Toyota team principal, John Howett, said: "Obviously everyone in the team is very disappointed and feels for Timo, and we wish him a very speedy recovery. "Based on the initial diagnosis, we fully expected Timo to return in Brazil, but unfortunately a different injury has been revealed which prevents that. "He will remain in Germany to recover and we hope he can recuperate in time for Abu Dhabi, although at this stage the situation is not clear. "Kamui was the natural choice to step in, and he proved in Suzuka that he is capable of holding his own. "It is a difficult task for him, but he knows the team will give him its complete support and we know he is motivated to make the most of this unexpected opportunity." gcaygill@thenational.ae