Mike Stevens | Sep 2, 2009

FERRARI HAS RULED OUT Felipe Massa for the remainder of the season following a medical examination in Miami of the unlucky Brazilian F1 driver.

Although having sustained a fractured skull during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, Massa had hoped to make a comeback at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

But after meeting with neurological specialists, Ferrari announced that it is unlikely Massa will return to the grid until next season as he is set to undergo further surgery in the coming weeks, where doctors are expected to insert a metal plate into his skull.

In a statement, Ferrari said it was pleased with the outcome of Massa’s check-up, which confirmed the 2008 championship runner-up will be able to return to the race track to allay previous concerns over his F1 future.

“Obviously, the results of (the) examination has been warmly welcomed in Maranello, in the sense that the team can count on Felipe 100 percent for the start of next season,” he said.

Sidelined since the accident, Massa said he was looking forward to returning to the gym to regain his fitness, but said he doesn’t want to look too far ahead.

“I'm very happy with the outcome of the tests. After the small operation I'll undergo in the next few days, I'll finally be able to start doing gym exercise to get back in shape a bit and, after that, I'll be able to start doing some testing on karts,” he said.

"On track with an F1 car? Let's go one step at a time: now I'm focused only on starting over with physical activity, which is already a nice step forward.”

With Massa seemingly on track to return for the 2010 season, Ferrari will now be able to accelerate its plans for the future and bring an end to the ongoing saga surrounding Kimi Raikkonen.

The Scuderia reportedly delayed making any announcements regarding its 2010 driver pairing until it received assurances that Massa would be able to return to the sport.

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And with early signs promising, the opportunity has finally arisen for Ferrari to complete its long-awaited deal to bring Fernando Alonso to Maranello, with Raikkonen potentially headed in the other direction to Renault after the Finn quashed speculation he would move to the World Rally Championship during the Spa weekend.

However, recent talk in the F1 paddock suggests Raikkonen could be set for a reunion with former team McLaren, only three years after leaving the Woking-based outfit in acrimonious fashion.

Raikkonen’s blasé off track attitude clashed with McLaren’s cold and calculated corporate image, bringing the Finn into constant conflict with former team boss Ron Dennis.

But with Dennis no longer intimately involved with F1 operations, a potential return to McLaren is a real possibility.

Meanwhile, Ferrari is expected to announce its replacement for Luca Badoer in the next 48 hours, with Italian Giancarlo Fisichella favourite to fill the seat.

Fisichella’s stunning performance in Belgium fuelled speculation the former Renault driver could make an unlikely cameo appearance for the team in the remaining five races of the season.

The team has also been linked to BMW’s Robert Kubica, a favourite of the Italian media after spending three years in the country while racing in Europe’s junior formulae.

With BMW set to exit the sport at the end of the season, team boss Mario Theissen is unlikely to interfere with any plans for the Pole to don the famed scarlet overalls at Monza should Ferrari come calling.

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