Felipe Massa is to undergo surgery after suffering skull damage, cuts and concussion during a high-speed accident in Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying.
The Ferrari driver, 28, slammed head on into a tyre wall after a piece of debris that had fallen off Ruben Barrichello's Brawn car hit his helmet.
Ferrari said his condition upon arrival at a Budapest hospital was "stable" and that the Brazilian was conscious.
He will remain "under observation in intensive care" after the operation.
The incident comes less than a week after Henry Surtees, 18, was killed in what was described as a "freak" accident during a Formula Two race at Brands Hatch.
The son of motorsport legend John Surtees was struck by a wheel which flew off a competitor's car.
Massa - winner of 11 grands prix in his career - did manage to briefly apply the brakes as went off the Hungaroring track before his car hit the tyre wall at around 125mph.
The incident was caused by a car part that had minutes earlier fallen off the rear suspension of Barrichello's Brawn, which subsequently flew up and hit Massa's helmet causing considerable impact.
Massa was swiftly attended to by trackside medics before being taken to the circuit's medical centre after which he was airlifted to hospital for further examination. sky news