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Ecclestone doubts Massa return in '09

Bernie Ecclestone, 2009Bernie Ecclestone doubts that Felipe Massa will be able to return to Formula 1 this season.

Although the Brazilian's condition is not as bad as at first feared, Ecclestone suspects that it will not be until 2010 that Massa will be fit to return to the cockpit even though it is still too early for an full prognosis to be made.

"It's difficult to say whether or not he's going to be in a position to compete this year," said Ecclestone. "Next year I don't know, but I doubt we'll see him this year.

"One thing that's good is that they are very hopeful that the eye is not anywhere near as bad as they thought."

Massa suffered a fractured skull after striking a spring which had fallen from Rubens Barrichello's Brawn during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix. Despite Massa being certain to miss at least part of this season, Ecclestone does not believe that seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher will replace the Brazilian.

"I doubt whether he [Schumacher] will," said Ecclestone. "He was super-fit when he was driving, and to get as fit as that again and be prepared to get back in a car without any testing would be asking too much."

Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo and team principal Stefano Domenicali met in Maranello yesterday to discuss potential replacement, but it is not known when a final decision will be made.

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