F1 drivers eye safety changes after crash

By Rob Harris ,AP

SILVERSTONE, England — Having survived his own life-threatening Formula One crash, Felipe Massa wants to ensure any safety changes are quickly implemented following this week’s accident involving test driver Maria de Villota.

The Spaniard lost her right eye after her Marussia collided with a team vehicle during testing on Tuesday, while Massa recovered from a freak accident during a 2009 race when a loose part from another car hit his helmet, causing him to veer into a barrier.

“I suffered similar injuries, and thank God nothing happened to me, but I really hope everything will be OK for her and she is able to live her life in the best way she deserves,” Massa said on Thursday at the British Grand Prix.

“For me, it was not easy at first. You are at home and you are wanting to get back into the car, to race … staying positive helps your recovery, to have positive things in your brain, and my recovery was quicker than it was supposed to be.”

A titanium plate was inserted to strengthen Massa’s skull and he is back driving for Ferrari, wanting to know the cause of De Villota’s accident on a straight-line test run.

“The most important thing is to understand what happened,” Massa said. “The FIA need to understand as well, to put everything in place for maximum safety that we need to have.”

Reigning two-time champion Sebastian Vettel was keen to know if “there was a problem with the car or if it was a mistake she made.”

At Duxford Airfield in Cambridgeshire, north of London, De Villota’s head took much of the impact from the collision with the Marussia team truck, which was used to transport the racing car to her first test run.

The mystery over why the car suddenly accelerated, and hit the truck as De Villota was slowing down is something the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association wants investigating.

“We will put the facts on the table to see if there is anything we need to change to improve,” said HRT’s Pedro de la Rosa, who is chairman of the drivers’ body. “When an accident happens, it means that something didn’t work properly.

“We need to make sure, between the FIA, the teams and the GPDA, that we make changes for the future because it’s not good enough. The first thing we need to do is understand what happened, what safety measures were taken and how the airfield was prepared for Formula One testing.”

De Villota remains in a critical condition in hospital following surgery lasting more than 12 hours.

“Maria has remained stable throughout since the accident, particularly during the first night following such a lengthy surgical procedure as she experienced yesterday,” the family said in a statement on Thursday.

“We, the family, are supporting each other here at Maria’s side and we take great comfort from the remarkable medical care she has been receiving. We remain positive.”