Motorsport Heroes: Massa recalls the day he almost died

In Motorsport Heroes, the full-length feature film by Manish Pandey now available on Motorsport.tv, four legends of our sport share their successes, failures, personal struggles and life-threatening accidents

Motorsport Heroes: Massa recalls the day he almost died

Today we hear from 11-time Formula 1 race winner Felipe Massa about his near-death experience during qualifying in Hungary in 2009.

Massa was struck on the crash helmet by the spring from the heave damper arrangement at the rear of Rubens Barichello's Brawn GP.

As the discarded black spring bounced along the track, Massa drove into it at high speed - knocking him unconscious and causing him to crash head-on into a tyre barrier.

"Exit of Turn 5, Rubens lost his third spring of his car, and I was coming around 155mph," says Massa.

"The spring just hit my head."

He continues: "I went to the hospital. They made quite an intense operation. I flew back to Brazil, and they did another big operation a month after [the crash].

"They put like a plate, here [Massa points to above his left eye], because I lost all the bone on this area.

"It took really a long time to get back to the car.

"You always know you want to go back to racing, but you never believe something will happen to you. When it happens to you, you just respect the life of yourself and also everybody in a big way."

Massa would miss the rest of the 2009 season as he recovered from his injuries but he, more than anyone, recognises that he was not only lucky but also thankful of the unrelenting progress made in motorsport safety.

The damage to his helmet helped form the basis for a decade's worth of research that is now a mandatory feature of each and every Formula 1 helmet, no matter the manufacturer.

Pandey, who wrote the multi award-winning Senna movie, interweaves the narratives of our Motorsport Heroes, telling their stories with both archive footage and first-hand testimony in the 111-minute documentary.

To stream the full movie subscribe to Motorsport.tv from £3.99 a month, or rent it for £5.99 for 48 hours.

shares
comments
Ricciardo's victory and more reaction from F1's 2018 Chinese GP

Previous article

Ricciardo's victory and more reaction from F1's 2018 Chinese GP

Next article

"Painful" not to be racing in F1 right now - Vettel

"Painful" not to be racing in F1 right now - Vettel
Load comments
How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working Plus

How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working

After its worst campaign in 40 years, the famous Italian team had to bounce back in 2021 – and it appears to be delivering. Although it concedes the pole positions in Monaco and Baku paint a somewhat misleading picture of its competitiveness, the team is heading into the 2022 rules revamp on much stronger footing to go for wins again

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Plus

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
The figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again in F1 2021 Plus

The figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again in F1 2021

OPINION: An interloper squad got amongst the title contenders during Formula 1’s street-circuit mini-break, where Red Bull left with the points lead in both championships. But, as the campaign heads back to purpose-built venues once again, how the drivers of the two top teams compare in one crucial area will be a major factor in deciding which squad stays in or retakes the top spot

Formula 1
Jun 16, 2021
Why Alfa's boss is ready for the task of securing a stronger F1 future Plus

Why Alfa's boss is ready for the task of securing a stronger F1 future

Two tenth places in recent races have lifted Alfa Romeo to the head of Formula 1's 'Class C' battle in 2021, but longer-term the Swiss-based squad has far loftier ambitions. With the new 2022 rules set to level out the playing field, team boss Frederic Vasseur has good reason to be optimistic, as he explained to Autosport in an exclusive interview

Formula 1
Jun 15, 2021
How Barnard’s revolutionary McLaren transformed F1 car construction Plus

How Barnard’s revolutionary McLaren transformed F1 car construction

The MP4/1 was pioneering by choice, but a McLaren by chance. STUART CODLING relates the tangled (carbonfibre) weaves which led to the creation of one of motor racing’s defining cars

Formula 1
Jun 15, 2021
Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool Plus

Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool

Windtunnel work forms the bedrock of aerodynamic development in Formula 1. But as PAT SYMONDS explains, advances in virtual research are signalling the end of these expensive and complicated relics

Formula 1
Jun 13, 2021
Why polarising Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour Plus

Why polarising Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour

The newspapers, naturally, lingered over Max Mosley’s tainted family history and niche sexual practices. But this is to trivialise the legacy of a big beast of motor racing politics. STUART CODLING weighs the life of a man whose work for safety on both road and track has saved hundreds of thousands of lives, but whose penchant for cruelty remains problematic and polarising

Formula 1
Jun 12, 2021
Why pragmatic Perez isn't fazed by no-nonsense Red Bull F1 culture Plus

Why pragmatic Perez isn't fazed by no-nonsense Red Bull F1 culture

Sergio Perez has spent most of his career labouring in Formula 1’s midfield, wondering whether he’d ever get another shot at the big time. Red Bull has handed him that chance and, although life at the top is tough, the Baku winner is doing all the right things to get on terms with Max Verstappen, says BEN ANDERSON

Formula 1
Jun 11, 2021