Massa frustrated not to be racing in Brazilian GP

SAO PAULO: Formula One driver Felipe Massa couldn't be happier with the way his recovery is going following his near-fatal accident. His only frustration is not to be racing at home in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

"It's not easy, I want to be in the car, especially here in Brazil," Massa said on Friday. "It would have been fantastic to come back for this race. Unfortunately, we need to wait a little bit more. It is not very easy to be on the outside just looking and not doing anything."

Massa was in the F1 paddock for the first time since his near-fatal crash in qualifying for the Hungarian GP in July, when he was knocked unconscious by a loose car part and crashed into a safety barrier, sustaining multiple skull fractures. He had surgery near his left eye and later had a metal plate inserted.

"It would be better to be driving the car, but I'm quite happy that things are going quite well," Massa said. "The recovery was really great, so I can say I am the same as before."

Massa is nearly fully recovered but doctors are keeping him from racing in the final two races of the year out of fears of another accident.

"The only big issue is that everything needs to be 100 percent ready as our sport is a risk sport. We can have another accident. I hope not, but we can," Massa said. "It is better to be 100 percent ready to recover from another accident. That is why we are waiting a little bit more and it will be better to wait until next year."

Massa said he had a "very good" test with a 2007 Ferrari this week, running 60 miles at the team's private track.

"I was pushing, I was not really slow," he said. "Everything was really normal and I am really, really happy."

Massa will find some differences when he is back full-time with Ferrari next season, starting with his teammate, who will be two-time champion Fernando Alonso instead of Kimi Raikkonen.

Massa started a controversy with his future teammate on Wednesday by saying that "without a doubt" the Spaniard knew that Nelson Piquet Jr. was going to crash on purpose in last year's Singapore GP to help him win the race, something Alonso has always denied.

Massa later backtracked and said his comments were "the outcome of a hunch" and not "based on any concrete evidence." Alonso also downplayed the issue by saying that maybe there was a "misunderstanding" and that it wasn't "important." Alonso was cleared by FIA from any wrongdoing and only Renault officials were punished.

Both drivers said the controversy would not affect their relationship, and on Friday they met briefly at Interlagos and shook hands.

"I hope that we can have a great team and we can have very good results for Ferrari," Massa said.

Massa's absence at his home race on Sunday comes as a big disappointment to local fans, too, who last year saw him come agonizingly close to becoming the first Brazilian F1 champion since the late Ayrton Senna in 1991. Massa won the race, but McLaren's Lewis Hamilton clinched the title by a single point with a pass on the final turn of the last lap. In 2006, Massa had already become the first Brazilian to win at home since Senna in 1993.

Massa's sole duty in this year's race will be to wave the checkered flag to the winner.