At today’s Formula 1 Grand Prix qualifying in Hungary, Ferrari driver, Felipe Massa, was hit in the left side of the helmet by a suspension spring from Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn GP car. It struck Felipe in the head and fractured the left part of his forehead above his eye and fractured part of his skull, along with knocking him unconscious and giving him a concussion. He regained consciousness shortly before he crashed, applying full brakes and locking them up.
Massa was then rushed in a helicopter to the hospital where, “At the time he was admitted to hospital his condition was stable and he was breathing and blood circulation was normal,” the Hungarian defense department said in a statement.
“During the course of his examination they established that he suffered a serious, life-threatening injuries, including loss of consciousness and a fracture of the forehead on the left side and a fracture on the base of the skull.”
Upon being at the hospital for about an hour, Felipe Massa underwent surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain. He is currently listed in stable condition.
This raises a lot of arguments about the safety of F1, and auto racing in general. Henry Surtees, son of 1964 F1 champion and racing legend John Surtees, died this past this past Sunday, the 19th, while racing in F2 at Brands Hatch in England, of a nearly identical situation where a tire from an accident in front of him knocked him unconscious and later was pronounced dead after arriving at Royal London Hospital.
This crash comes only 15 years after fellow Brazilian and three-time champion, Ayrton Senna, was killed at Imola from a similar situation.
As this raises safety concerns, I’m curious to understand if there is really anything that can be done about it? Unfortunately, freak accidents happen. When the same, or similar thing happens more than once, it becomes an interesting sequence of events that leads to eyebrows being raised in a different manner than a normal crash situation. But, like I asked, how much can really be done? No matter the technology, things will come off of a car in different situations. Formula racecars are fragile enough, strong, but still fragile when a big incident happens.
Source: Mail Tribune via The Associate Press
Surtees photo taken from: Guardian.co.uk