London: Ferrari`s Felipe Massa has much to be thankful for on his return to Hungary this weekend, even if his Formula One title hopes and reputation have taken a heavy hit.
The Brazilian has fully recovered physically from the life-threatening head injuries he suffered a year ago at the Hungaroring, and intends to thank personally all those who came to his assistance after that crash in qualifying.
"My first meeting when I arrive at the Hungaroring circuit will be with all the marshals and medical staff who did such a very good job of carefully getting me out of the cockpit," he told the Ferrari website.
"I want to thank these people, with whom I now feel a special bond."
While the body has healed, the last grand prix in Germany dealt Massa a psychological setback that may be harder to overcome.
He now has to face up to being seen as Ferrari`s de facto number two, just as compatriot Rubens Barrichello was to Michael Schumacher, after moving over to let team mate Fernando Alonso win Sunday`s German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.
The furore over Ferrari`s apparent use of banned `team orders` left Massa -- championship runner-up by a single point in 2008 -- open to criticism for making the move too blatant as well as for being so obliging.
"People will see him now as a `yes man` who bends to the will of the company," former McLaren and Red Bull racer David Coulthard, who himself fell foul of similar orders in his career, said this week.
"Maybe they are right. Team player or stooge? The line is thin."