Ferrari does not expect Felipe Massa to return to the Formula 1 cockpit until the start of the 2010 season following the results of his medical examination in Miami on Monday.
The Brazilian visited the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit of the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami for a thorough examination by respected doctor Steve Olvey to assess his chances of recovery.
The prognosis was good, but the team said in a statement that with plastic surgery on Massa's skull due to be undertaken in the next few days, the team was not betting on Massa being ready to race in 2009.
"Obviously, the results of examination has been warmly welcomed in Maranello, in the sense that the team can count on Felipe 100% for the start of next season," said a Ferrari statement.
Massa is expected to have a small plate inserted into his skull at the area where it was damaged by the spring that hit his face during his qualifying crash for the Hungarian Grand Prix. Once that operation has taken place and Massa is fully recovered, he will then be able to resume physical training – having been forced to rest since his July accident.
"I'm very happy with the outcome of the tests," said Massa. "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.
"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."
Ferrari is expected to decide in the next 48 hours who will drive its second car for the remainder of the season, with Luca Badoer having struggled for pace in the two races he has taken part in so far.
Giancarlo Fisichella has emerged as favorite to join the team, but Italian media on Tuesday suggested that Robert Kubica was also a serious possibility.