Felipe Massa is set to return to the cockpit of a Formula 1 in the coming weeks, with Ferrari confirming that he will test a two-year-old Ferrari F2007 at Fiorano in the near future.
Although Ferrari has yet to set a date for the test pending medical examinations, the Brazilian is making good progress after suffering head injuries during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix in July. A decision on when he will be ready to test is expected this week.
With pre-season testing not starting until next February, it will give Massa, who is understood to be back to training at close to his pre-accident level, the chance to take the first step towards proving he will be race-ready for the start of the 2010 season. Domenicali insisted that there is no chance of Massa being fit for the Brazilian Grand Prix in two weeks, but left the door open for an outside chance of a return in Abu Dhabi.
"I don't know yet [when the test will be]," said team principal Stefano Domenicali. "We will decide this week because Felipe will come to Maranello tomorrow.
"He will stay with the team this week, he will go and do some training in the simulator, physical training in Maranello, and then we will decide when to do this. Also, because it is compulsory, he has to do an FIA medical check before doing something. This is something we will decide this week.
"What I can say is that it is not planned to do any driving in Brazil. For Abu Dhabi it is very, very unlikely. The main target is Bahrain next year."
Domenicali added that the primary purpose of the test will be to assess Massa's fitness, rather than chasing lap times, and with the testing restrictions making driving a 2009 car impossible, a run in an old car is the only option. Michael Schumacher had a similar test in an F2007 in August as part of his ultimately abandoned comeback in place of Massa.
"Our main target is to make sure Felipe is OK from the physical point of view, as it was for Michael Schumacher in the early summer," said Domenicali. "We asked the FIA to make sure that the there is no breach of any kind of sporting or testing regulation and this gave us the clearance for this kind of test. It means that when we are ready we will do a test at Fiorano with an F2007 historical car with no changes. Just the customer car and GP2 tires.
"It is order to have a fit and see how it is from his medical point of view, this is why we have asked the FIA medical delegate to be there. But it is not really a test. It is to see how his body reacts to driving a Formula 1 car, even if is not up-to-date. That is not what we care about, it is to give him an indication how the recovery is going."
Domenicali is hopeful that Massa will not have any trouble with wearing a helmet that puts pressure on his head injury, despite the Brazilian having to cut padding out of that area when he tested a kart at Granja Viana in Brazil earlier this week.
"He said from that point of view he had no real major problem, even where he has the cuts," said Domenicali. "He said he had no problem at all, and it is normal when he has such a big injury to have a lot of things that hurt, but this is something that will be solved very easily."