Massa hits the track

Felipe Massa today returned to the cockpit of a competitive Formula One car for the first time in six months.

Massa was among the first of the drivers on track on the opening day of the first F1 test of the season at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia.

The Ferrari driver required life-saving surgery after an accident in qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix last July. The 28-year-old Brazilian, who now has a metal plate inside his skull to repair the fracture he sustained in the crash, has since made a superb recovery.

Although Massa has driven karts, and most recently a 2008-spec Ferrari in a private test in Barcelona, the moment he pulled out of the garage in the new F10 was his most significant since the smash.

Massa was joined on track by McLaren test driver Gary Paffett, Sauber’s Pedro de la Rosa, Robert Kubica in his Renault, Rubens Barrichello for Williams, Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi and Nico Rosberg in the new Mercedes.

It is the first time a works Mercedes has been seen on a circuit since Juan Manuel Fangio won the drivers’ title for the team in 1955.

Mercedes now have a 75% stake in last year’s championship-winning team Brawn GP, with Michael Schumacher coaxed out of retirement to form an all-German line-up with Rosberg.

After a hiatus of more than three years, the seven-time world champion is scheduled to make his return to action in the afternoon session.

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