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Massa thrills Ferrari fans with F60 return 16 Nov 2009

Felipe Massa at the Ferrari World Finals, Valencia, Spain, November 15, 2009. © Ferrari Felipe Massa at the Ferrari World Finals, Valencia, Spain, November 15, 2009. © Ferrari Felipe Massa at the Ferrari World Finals, Valencia, Spain, November 15, 2009. © Ferrari Felipe Massa (left) with Fernando Alonso at the Ferrari World Finals, Valencia, Spain, November 15, 2009. © Ferrari

Felipe Massa was back behind the wheel of the Ferrari F60 on Sunday, his first outing in the team’s 2009 machine since his life-threatening crash at the Hungarian Grand Prix meeting back in July. Massa wowed the crowds at Spain’s Valencia circuit, where Ferrari were celebrating the end of their motorsport season with the annual Ferrari World Finals.

It may not have been his first time back in an F1 car - he tested an older machine at Ferrari’s Fiorano test track last month - but it was a very special day for the Brazilian, back in front of his beloved fans less than four months after his skull was fractured by a loose spring from a rival car.

“I am very happy to be here, that I can work with the team,” said Massa. "It’s true that I’ve been with them in Sao Paulo and in Abu Dhabi, but driving is really extraordinary! Today I also want to thank all the fans, who were really close to me over the last months. The messages I received were wonderful."

Massa drove around 20 laps, first with his test driver team mates Marc Gene, Giancarlo Fisichella and Luca Badoer and later on, after a couple of pit stops, alone - an experience he described as almost as good as a race win.

"It was fantastic and I am so happy,” he said. “Although I could drive just a little, I really enjoyed being here. I am very motivated: this today for me is like victory. It was just like before the accident at the Hungaroring."

Massa is due to make his competitive Formula One comeback at the 2010 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, where he will line-up for the first time alongside new team mate Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard was also present in Valencia, hosting its first World Finals, though not driving as he is still officially contracted to Renault.

“Let’s hope that we can give our fans some satisfaction in 2010,” added Massa. “Fernando and I really want to be the best couple in Formula One."