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Page last updated at 13:14 GMT, Wednesday, 30 September 2009 14:14 UK

Massa to use Ferrari F1 simulator

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Massa back on track in a kart

By Andrew Benson

Felipe Massa is to step up his recovery by flying to Italy next week to use Ferrari's simulator for the first time since his life-threatening crash.

The Brazilian, who suffered a fractured skull at the Hungarian Grand Prix in July, drove a kart on Monday for the first time since the accident.

He is planning to do more karting this week before a series of tests on the simulator in Maranello.

But on Wednesday a Ferrari spokesman played down talk of an early return.

"Felipe's recovery is proceeding in a very positive way, but there are no plans to accelerate his comeback," the spokesman said.

A source close to Massa told BBC Sport on Tuesday that, following his successful first run in a kart, Massa had set his sights on racing in the final grand prix of the season, in Abu Dhabi on 1 November.

"He would like to be back for the last race but that depends on further tests with the FIA doctor," said the source.

Felipe had been a bit worried about the pressure of his helmet on the part of his head where he suffered the fracture, but it was OK

Source close to Felipe Massa

The FIA, F1's governing body, has to give the all-clear to all drivers who return after a major accident.

Massa drove eight laps at the Grana Viana karting track on the outskirts of Sao Paulo on Monday before rain ended his test.

The session was attended by his personal doctor Dino Altmann, who had recommended he drove for no more than an hour.

The source said Massa felt "very good".

"He was in very good condition and he said to the doctor he was feeling OK. There were no complaints," added the source.

"He had been a bit worried about the pressure of his helmet on the part of his head where he suffered the fracture, but it was OK."

The source said Massa had started physical training 11 days ago, and that as part of that he went running on the beach with his personal trainer at the weekend.

Massa suffered his injuries on 25 July during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, when he was hit on the helmet just above his left eye by a spring that had become detached from countryman Rubens Barrichello's Brawn.

Massa was travelling at slightly more than 160mph when the spring hit him, and he crashed into the barriers at about 60mph after being knocked unconscious.

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Ferrari initially stated that Massa, who recently had plastic surgery on his injury, would return to Formula 1 in 2010.

But such has been his progress that team boss Stefano Domenicali, speaking at the Singapore Grand Prix last weekend, refused to rule out the possibility of him appearing again before the season is out.

There are three races left in 2009, with races in Japan this weekend and Brazil on 18 October before Abu Dhabi.

"It is too early to say [whether he might race again this year]," Domenicali said after Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix.

"I don't want to exclude anything, but we need to be cautious. We need to see it step by step, and we don't have to anticipate anything.

"He will be back 100%, but there is no need to anticipate anything if there is something that is not ready."

He added: "Every day he is doing a check with his doctor, but not an official medical check."

Massa's team-mate at Ferrari next year will be Fernando Alonso, whose switch to the team is expected to be announced either on Wednesday or Thursday this week.

As part of his preparations for a return to F1, Massa will race in the International Challenge of the Stars event in the Brazilian city of Florianopolis, which features drivers from different motorsport categories including F1, Indy racing and stock cars.

Seven-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher and Barrichello are also expected to take part.

Italian Giancarlo Fisichella, meanwhile, will continue to deputise for Massa with Ferrari.



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see also
Ferrari confirm capture of Alonso
30 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Massa set to make low-key return
25 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Massa fearless over racing return
08 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Ferrari 'count on' Massa for 2010
01 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Fisichella makes Ferrari switch
03 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Schumacher rules out race return
23 Aug 09 |  Formula 1
Massa leaves Brazilian hospital
04 Aug 09 |  Formula 1
Felipe Massa
02 Nov 08 |  Drivers


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