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Massa: My accident happened for a reason
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Massa: My accident happened for a reason
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Sep 2009   |  8:26 am GMT  |  32 comments

Felipe Massa has spoken at length to the Guardian newspaper today, in a terrific interview with Donald McRae. You can listen to the whole interview on the Guardian website.

Massa longs to be behind the wheel again soon. (Darren Heath)

Massa longs to be behind the wheel again soon. (Darren Heath)


The gist of it is that he feels that everything in life is pre-ordained, including his accident. This was something he had to come through, to serve some higher purpose, but he hasn’t worked out what that purpose might be yet.

He is lucky to be alive, not to be blinded or brain-damaged by the 700 gramme alloy spring which fell off Rubens Barrichello’s car in Budapest and bounced into his face. And, having struggled to get to the top in this brutal sport, he is clearly determined to race again, despite his family’s concerns.

“You need to think about luck in different ways,” Massa said. “I was actually very unlucky with the spring in my face,” he says. “But I was very lucky as well. Every doctor said the same. If the spring had gone one millimetre to the right I would have lost my sight. One millimetre to the left and who knows? I could have been brain damaged. So I was very lucky. And this is more important because it is my life.”

Massa speaks also about the freakish circumstances of his accident, following so soon after the death of F2 driver Henry Surtees from a loose wheel.

“I was very touched by his death,” said Massa. “And I told my wife straightaway about the accident of Henry. I said to her, ‘Listen, this is what you need to be worried about. This is something you have no control over. It is not like a normal accident.’ And then a week after that it happened to me. She remembered straightaway what I had said.

“For me, the worst thing that happened was not being able to race. If you can’t drive that’s terrible. But my wife has already asked me, at least 10 times, ‘Are you sure you don’t feel any doubts or worries?’ Always, I say, ‘No – because this is what I like to do.’ If I don’t drive then I am not the same person. Ever since I was a small boy this is my life. This is what I like to do. So I really hope, and expect, nothing will change inside of me when I go back into the car and start pushing myself to the maximum again.”

Massa believes that nothing happens by chance, that everything in life is pre-destined, including his accident,

“Everything in life has a meaning. If something bad happens it’s because you need to learn, to grow. My life was once very difficult – when you think of the position I used to be in and what I had to do to arrive where I am now in my professional career. It was very difficult to reach this point. I had many races in the various categories where I knew if I did not win then I would not get to race in the next race because I did not have the money. So a lot happened that helped me become stronger. I think there is a reason for this accident. At the moment I don’t quite know what it is but.”

Massa yesterday underwent a four hour operation to put a plate in his head to replace the section of his skull which had to be removed during his surgery in Budapest. He says that he plans to attend the Brazilian Grand Prix on October 18th, but will find it difficult to spectate.

Soon afterwards he will become a father for the first time when his son, due to be named Felipe, comes along in November. What a year for Felipe Massa.

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32 Comments
  1. Andy says:

    Indeed – what a year!

    I must say, I’ve really warmed to Massa since the 2008 British Grand Prix, where he was a bit of a joke. The guy has matured a lot, both as a driver and a personality.

    As the quotation goes: That which does not kill us, only makes us stronger. With a reliable car under him, could 2010 be Massa’s year?

    1. Adrian says:

      I agree, and the way he handled the title defeat at the end of last season just cemented his place as one of the good guys of the sport.

      The grid is a worse place while he’s away and I wish him a full recovery and all the best on his return.

  2. Martin Collyer says:

    “Massa believes that nothing happens by chance, that everything in life is pre-destined…”

    I am not a religious person so while I do not agree with the above, I repect the right of Felipe to do so.

    The spring that struck Massa was a random event. No blame has been attached to or alleged against Brawn, as far as I know. They will of course be mighty concerned that a part of their car could break loose in this way.

    The difficulty with random events is we don’t know whether something unexpected could happen this weekend or maybe not for several years, that’s why they are random. And this, despite the best efforts of FIA, teams and drivers to improve safety

    Best Wishes to Felipe for a full and speedy recovery.

  3. KNF says:

    He’s naming his son Felipe Junior? How does that work out in Portuguese (Rubens is called Rubinho, Nelson Jr. is called Nelsinho, etc.)

    1. sam says:

      His name is not Felipe like you said Rubens is actually Rubinho. Felipe Massa is Felipinho Massa.

    2. Werewolf says:

      Felipinho – but, sorry, I thought you were Brazilian!

      1. KNF says:

        lol :D

        I’m still wrapping my head around the nicknames Brazilians give their personalities (in sports, entertainment, etc.)

  4. Stevie P says:

    And thus begins the Cult of Massa… ;-)

  5. Nic Maennling says:

    He would do better to understand that there is nothing pre-ordained about the laws of physics. The other is just noise which could divert his enormous talent. It all sounds a bit like Senna.

    The experience probably will make him stronger but not for the reasons he cites.

    1. Leon Allen says:

      Some brutal common sense from Nic Maennling.

      I admire Massa. His humanity is delightful. The way he handled the chaotic events of last year’s championship was simply heroic. He’s become so much more the complete driver over the past two seasons and it will be bloody marvellous to have him back fighting at the front of the grid again next year.

      All that said….his touching beliefs could be seen as shallow and dangerous. Fi is as excitiing as it is because it pits human skill in handling technology at the very edge.

      The laws of physics are fixed and immutable. Nothing else is involved.

  6. Forza Felipe says:

    Wow. Good on you Massa; a positive, openly philosophical F1 driver.
    I ‘ve heard this kind of retrospectiveness from people like my insanely religous 75yr old Gran.

    Massa truly is a deep human being. I hope he becomes world champ one day.

    I’ll be rooting for you. God speed.

    Amen

  7. Dom says:

    great driver, shabby scientist

    unlikely events != divine purpose

  8. Pay The Piper says:

    That spring must have been heavier than we thought.

    1. Josh Gant says:

      Ouch! ;) I don’t agree with him either but to each their own. I am looking forward to him being back and hope he is still competitive when that time arrives.

  9. Bob says:

    A good interview? The interviewer was mumbling “uh huh, yeah, uh huh” while Massa was speaking. Come on, shut the hell up!

  10. Harveyeight says:

    I like Massa and agree that the way he handled defeat last year in the WDC was quite impressive. However:

    If everything is pre-ordained then his suggestion that Barrichello could win the title looks rather illogical.

    In the same way, why does he bother to compete? Predestination is a very odd belief for a racing driver. I would have thought ‘Anything is possible’ would be the better mantra.

    I’m afraid I can’t agree with Forza Filipe. This type of belief shows a certain shallowness.

    As Neitchze (spelling?) said, copying from Andy above: That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. It’s shame it doesn’t knock some sense into you.

    1. Forza Felipe says:

      Ok hold up Harv, and the rest of you;

      1) Read what Massa says, it’s not ‘everything is pre-ordained’- that’s JA’s summary in 3 words.

      2) Massa says ‘everything in life has a meaning, if something bad happens it’s because you need to learn, to grow’.

      I don’t know how young you are, but I am only 25 and I have been through ‘bad’ events that most 25 yr olds haven’t. I know now, many years down the line that these events, which seemed ‘bad’ at the time, have had a positive part to play in getting me to where I am now.

      Some people go through this sort of thing and manage to ‘unlock’ their potential thereafter-
      Massa will be world champ.

      Shallow, me? I just look a things differently to your average 25 yr old. :-P

      1. Harveyeight says:

        FF,

        I agree with you to a certain extent, at least my interpretation of what you are saying.

        Good can come out of bad experiences. Speaking personally, in 2003 I became extremely ill. And in line with what Andy and Neitchze both suggest, I now wouldn’t be without the experience as I got a lot from it. I learnt what is important in life to me, and that is beyond price although the price was five years of serious illness. However, a friend of mine had the same problem and he died. Massa seems to be suggesting there was some overarching reason why I’m alive and he’s dead. I’m not sure why but I find that suggestion sort of offensive.

        Massa is saying that everything has a purpose (turn, turn, turn – probably too obscure a comment for someone 25 years old). Or in other words bad things are targetted as some sort of character-building exercise. Well I’m 62 and I can tell you that my experience of life is not quite so rosy. It don’t work that way.

        I’m not suggesting age brings wisdom. Einstein was your age when he worked out relativity. Youth is underated by the old. But experience is similarly treated by the young.

        It’s a nice thought and if it gets anyone through the bad times well who am I to take the comforter from their lips. But there is a ruler of the universe, someone pulling the strings, and its name is Random.

        That said, I like Massa. We could do with more drivers in F1 who are pleasant lads. I’d listen to whatever he had to say about driving.

  11. Amritraj says:

    I wish Massa a full and speedy recovery and look forward to see him racing soon.

  12. Pepe says:

    Great man and a top driver. You can tell he speaks from the heart. Great article James.
    Massa for 2010 Champ!!!

  13. F1 Kitteh says:

    He is without doubt one of the characters that make the sport what it is. The passion and hard work that he puts in to achieve what he has today makes him an ideal inspirational character for the younger generation. He used to be ragged, was fired by sauber, but clawed his way back up and now showing up one of the acknowledged fastest drivers in the world. Would be nice to see him be champ one day.

    1. Richard Mee says:

      I have to agree with that. A genuinely nice guy who doesn’t demand respect but who has earnt it.
      The religious conotations aren’t my cup of tea but if it helps him personally explain and draw a line under such random set-backs then that’s fair enough.

      1. JEEEPp says:

        Allelulia, Amen

  14. Werewolf says:

    Werewolves don’t really do religion (!) but there often seems to be some kind of metaphysical influence at work in our lives, and especially in motor racing. Fate, divinity, co-incidence, spirituality, quantum physics? Never trust a man with all the answers, I say!

    More seriously, I really hope Massa can drive again and return to full competitiveness but if he cannot, his handling of himself at Interlagos last year suggests he has all the necessary qualities to move on. Actually, I can see Massa as a kind of Brazilian Stirling Moss in years to come – and compliments don’t get much bigger from me.

  15. Coral says:

    What a wonderful, touching interview. It is so refreshing to see a racing driver discuss spiritual aspects of life. Rubens does it too, and of course dear Ayrton Senna was always doing it, which was why I adored him so much :) And they are right, everything in life does happen for a reason…

    I was never much of a Felipe Massa fan in the past but I shall be now.

    Best wishes Felipe for a speedy recovery. God bless.

    1. Werewolf says:

      In the modern era, Senna equals spirituality in F1. I have spoken with people who knew him really well – or at least claimed to – and some of the stories they tell, of both pre- and post-Imola 1994, are frightening and uplifting in equal measure.

      Personally, even on the day he died, when I had had enough of racing cars for more than one day, a Type 35 Bugatti stalled in front of me and I push started it, jumping over barriers to do so without thinking. The sound of it firing up between my legs just reduced me to tears, reminding me of what it all meant to me.

  16. Chris says:

    He’s one genuine guy. Very likable modest and humble I think. I admired him for his own respect for Schumacher and for being honest and humble enough to admit and accept advice fr michael rather than be big headed and do his own thing.

  17. JohnBt says:

    The accident was purely an incident or bad luck. Nothing spiritual. But if Massa believes its from the almighty, then it’s a sign to stop racing and take care of his family. The power of thoughts can alter a person psychologically. Just like to wish him speedy recovery.

    1. Desdi says:

      Totally agree. Massa is a nice guy, but to think that his accident happened for a reason is just plain silly. Its a pretty common way to look at things for a lot of catholics. But it is not found in the bible. Thats belief in fate – not God.
      People need to understand that sometimes things just happen. With no higher meaning or deeper understanding or reason to be found. Its just life.
      That being said – being a christian – I believe that no matter what happens, things can work together for good for people who trust in God. That on the other hand is found in the bible.
      Anyway – I wish Massa the best. And if he cant race, he should just be happy to be able to enjoy life with his family.

  18. Richard Dre says:

    So does Felipe think it was his destiny to come within a point of the world championship? 2008 looks likely to be his best shot at the title, especially if Alonso is on his way to Ferrari and Vettel/Hamilton are in good cars in 2010. Does he think he was preordained to be a nearly man? God must’ve been having a right giggle when he saw Felipe’s dad celebrating at interlagos. Massa is a lovely man, one of the nicest of the current crop, but he’ll only get my full respect if/when he realises his accident was a fluke. Beat the big boys to the title in 2010 or 2011 and then you’ll give some credence to your silly belief.

  19. Alastair says:

    I like the guy, but I’ll be very surprised if he ever competes in F1 again. looking at the swelling, and the fact its a brain injury, I think it’s unlikely.

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