The chase is on
Shanghai 2018
Chinese Grand Prix
Massa gives Alonso an uncomfortable welcome
McLaren Honda
Massa gives Alonso an uncomfortable welcome
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Oct 2009   |  12:12 pm GMT  |  163 comments

Felipe Massa is playing an interesting game at the moment, with regards to his team mate for next season, Fernando Alonso.

Massasmilejpg
First at a lunch for Brazilian journalists yesterday in Sao Paolo, he claimed that Alonso must have known about the Singapore crash plot, even though he was cleared of involvement by the FIA, “Fernando knew, ” he said. “Of course he knew, I’m 100% certain of that. In a team it is impossible not to know the strategy of the other driver.”

Many of the drivers say the same thing privately, but have not wanted to say it publicly. Massa said it and he does not deny he said it, even though he did issue a clarification via the Ferrari website.

“What I’ve said is the outcome of a hunch I’ve had and is not based on any concrete evidence,” he said. “The FIA World Council announced that there was no indication that Fernando may have been informed of what had happened and I respect this outcome. Obviously I’m very disappointed about what transpired last year in Singapore: I have already said several times what I thought about it and now it’s time to close that chapter and to look to the future. What is certain is that this episode will not marr in any way the relationship I’ll have with Fernando when we will be teammates.”

Under the circumstances Massa might have been expected to keep his hunches to himself in the interest of team harmony for next year. But it looks like it isn’t going to be that kind of relationship and he isn’t going to play that kind of game.

Massa knows that Alonso is a very different beast as a team mate from Raikkonen and he knows that many people expect him to lose the inevitable psychological struggle with Alonso. McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh offered Ferrari a piece of advice on how to manage the Spaniard last week, “I’m sure as long as Fernando is winning everything will be fine.”

The move to Ferrari is such a big thing for Alonso and has been so long in the making, that he is sure to try to take control. Massa is fast enough to trouble him and they both know that. The key question; is Massa strong enough in the head? And that is what we will find out next season. Those close to him say he most definitely is. What’s intriguing about Massa’s comments here is that he wants to show Alonso from the outset that he is no pushover and he has no qualms about probing Alonso’s weak points, such as the doubt over his involvement in the crash scandal and thus, by extension, his reputation.

It is easy to dismiss Massa’s outburst as nothing more than an aftershock from the frustration he feels about losing the world championship because of a race whose outcome was ‘fixed’. Maybe, but there is definitely more to it than that, after all here he is implicating his new team mate in that fix; quite a tough statement at this stage and an uncomfortable welcome to Alonso.

This is great stuff, I love this psychological business between drivers, it’s so fundamental to the racer’s instinct and is such a window on the soul. The key is to play a hard game, but without damaging your reputation.

Also said at the lunch, but less widely reported, was a comment about how Alonso will have to fit in with the Ferrari way, not dictate how things should be,
“It will have to be Fernando who adapts himself to the Ferrari style and not the other way around, ” said Massa. “I know how Ferrari works, he has to learn. If I was going to Renault it would be up to me to adapt to them.”

Massa also said that if it had been up to him he would have been behind the wheel this weekend in Brazil, “I feel ready to race and if they asked me to I’d take the wheel. But the risks involved in another incident are very high.”

This is no surprise. On the night of Massa’s accident I spoke to a London brain surgeon and he said to me then that if Massa was his patient he would not let him drive again for six months because if he had another accident it could be very dangerous.

I suspect that Massa wanted to race again this season because he wanted to make sure he had his feet back under the table at Ferrari before Alonso’s arrival.

Their partnership will make for some great entertainment and is sure to be very successful on the track, but it is crystal clear from this episode that it is going to take some very strong management to keep the ship on an even keel.

Featured Video
Sign up for Jenson’s Triathlon today!
Featured News in mclaren
MORE FROM McLaren
LATEST FROM THE MCLAREN HONDA COMMUNITY
Previous
Next
Share This:
Posted by:
Category:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

163comments

by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest
1

Maybe the FIA are prepared to look the other way re Alonso’s involvement in Singapore as a ‘Thank You’ for helping them nail McLaren?

2

I hope massa puts one over over on Alonso, being a gifted driver dosn’t give you the right to be an arse. I also hope that Kimi and Lewis fight for title next year with Massa… that would really hurt, but I suspect it will be a fight with Alonso though…..

James you are the best F1 Journo of the minute. Shame it didn’t translate to a comentator. Please keep the blog going though!

3

Massa’s comments appear to be a mixture of sour grapes (over the lost title) and gamesmanship (as you pointed out). Ultimately, di Montezemolo and Domenicali have quite a few millions of euros invested in the new arrangement, and I suspect they won’t tolerate too many fits of temper by the drivers. Di Montezemolo seems like a canny sort, to say the least, and I suspect he might handle anhy potential team mate friction with a bit more finesse than was the case with Ron Dennis at McLaren in 2007. In any event, both drivers simply need to get on with the program if the Scuderia are to have a shot at the title next year.

4

Just seems like a lot of angry-little-man syndrome

5

Maybe Alonso was involved.

Anyone think of that?????????????????

6

reading all of this I just hope Kimi in McLaren beats all these cry-babies masssas and allonsas.

7

James, on another topic. Given your Italian connections, I’m surprised you have posted nothing on the N.Technology case against the FIA ?

8

Waiting to see the outcome.

9

James, just one question for you and i hope you can answer, is Alonso as a person not as a racing driver popular within the Paddock

10

Difficult to answer. He has a lot of admirers, gets on well with pit crews and so on, but he’s quite an introverted character, keeps himself to himself

11

Keeping himself to himself hasn’t done Kimi any favours at Ferrari.

12

Because they don’t trust him, and who could blame them.

13

Unfortunately for Massa, I think that Alonso has the sort of personality which thrives on the creating situations of tension and conflict. This recent outburst does nothing more than indicate that Massa is unsettled about the prospect of Alonso arriving. I don’t think Alonso will be anything other than pleased about that.

14

one interesting thing i just thought about was

that – Alonso started having problems only during the middle of the season after moving to Mclaren and it largely had to do (according to my belief) with Hamilton being competetive and mclaren denying him no.1 status!

till the fifth race(monaco) it was all hunky dory!

4- 5 races down the season was when people started thinking seriously Lewis was also championship material!

Now in ferrari, his problems have already started…. we know massa can be competetive… this is a different mind game for Alonso too…. lets see how long he remains/acts “cool” to Massa’s comments (I am sure he is not going to sit quietly) :-)!!!

15

Problems at McLaren started in Melbourne when Alonso’s family were overwhelmed by the team’s support to Hamilton while watching the race.

They didn’t last long, soon they moved to Renault’s and watched the races there as the Maclaren’s lack of support for Alonso was unbearable … they were racing Fernando after all

16

Actually, Lewis triggered a FIA investigation in Monaco, British press and Ron Dennis did the rest. MM started to try Fernando as an outsider. In the second half of the season Fernando outscored Lewis.

17

There may be trouble ahead (da da).

But while there’s Alonso and Massa,

there’ll be no love and romance.

The toys are gonna leave the prams (da da).

18

This is why I prefer Raikkonen; he doesn’t get involved in these head games with people.

19

Agreed! He is mentally very strong. And I think a lot of people pretty much completely misunderstand his personality – but of course that’s fine with Kimi 🙂 it’s not like it matters to him if others are misunderstanding.

20

I love F1! Bottom line, all the drivers will turn on each other given the chance. You don’t make it into F1 by being a nice guy.

21

…unless your name is Jenson Button.

22

This is just the outbursts of a driver that knows he is outclassed in every single way by Alonso. Because he wont be able to beat him on the track Massa is trying to wage a war of psychology to level the playing field.

Massa is not a champion driver and I do not believe he has ever put in the hard yards to earn a Ferrari seat, Barrichello is a better driver and in 2011 i will hope that Ferrari replace him with Vettel or Kubica to compliment someone of Alonso’s calibre.

23

I believe Massa is doing nothing wrong by saying this. He has every right to do so.

I just want to know, what was the actual reason Ferrari fired Kimi? They really weren’t blaming him for a bad performance this year were they? It was the cars fault and not his because Massa didn’t do that much better.

24

Indeed, he wasn’t fired. They needed Kimi to agree to it. So technically, he wasn’t fired, as he agreed to cancel the contract for 2010.

I seriously doubt Ferrari would have actually fired him had he decided to be stubborn and insist he has a contract and that he isn’t going to cancel it. Can you image Ferrari wanting to go to court over something like that? Extremely unlikely! Hence why I think Kimi was exactly right when he maintained it is his decision.

25

They didn’t fire him, they wanted Santander’s money and Santander bought Kimi out. Kimi has already banked more money for next season than most drivers will earn, without his pay from whoever he chooses to drive for next.

26

I’m a Massa fan and i know that Ferrari have made a mistake firing Raikkonen. They dont need Alonso, Massa and Raikkonen were perfect and succesful.

27

Hi James! Like the others have stated, I too would like to thank you for making this story more appreciable by injecting it with your thoughtful insight. Well done! …Call me “old school” or even an “out-of-touch idealist” but I personally believe the number 1 status in any team should be earned rather than demanded by anyone as a prerequisite before signing on. It’s for this reason I couldn’t understand the many posts I’ve read in various forums of how unjustly some people feel Alonso was treated by Ron Dennis in McLaren ’07. What’s with all the questions about sharing data with your teammate? Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do within your team and what Alonso was being paid handsomely for? I still think Alonso could easily have annexed his 3rd WC 2 years ago had he only kept his nose to the grindstone and avoided getting too emotional. …Back to this business of the number 1 and leadership status at Ferrari; I seriously doubt any parallel in Alonso2k10 with Schumi’96 as I don’t/can’t recall Michael bringing along a major sponsor with him to underwrite or buy that #1 status for him. Schumi earned it.

28

Massa has always struggled with the opinion of many that he was/is not talented enough to have a seat at Ferrari.

He has done a great deal to dispel this talk, but having AF brought into the team and the effort Ferrari made to make it happen will have upset his already delicate self belief.

Here is a man who has the typical fiery Brazilian blood coursing through his veins, a bump to his head and way too much time on his hands.

With the pain still burning from his near miss at possibly his only real shot for the WDC and the time to dwell upon a world of ‘what if’s’, you will get this type of talk.

It’s sad, but if he doesn’t get good advice, he might just talk himself out of a seat.

29

It’s not the first time Felipe mouths off making himself look very questionable.

As an another example, he badmouthed Kimi before the start of this season. I wondered at the time why he feels the need to do that. Kimi never said a bad thing about him in the public as far as I know. I guessed that they possibly are knowing that Alonso is coming in and have to decide who to drop – hence why Felipe would feel a need to start a smearing campaign against Kimi.

I think it showed Felipe is a weak character. And I expect he will lose his marbles with Alonso completely, because Alonso is not like Kimi at all personality-wise.

In fact I saw such weakness in Felipe already in 2007. You could very clearly read from his face whether he was ahead of Kimi or not in qualifying. It was like his self-confidence went hugely up if he was ahead, and then if he was behind Kimi, it went hugely down. It was so clearly readable from his face and from his comments. People like Kimi are very hard to read – they have a very solid self-confidence and are not rattled by such silly little things like who is ahead in qualifying.

30

Ferrari always wanted Alonso, but he pulled a fast one on Todt and went to drive for Renault after agreeing to be a test driver for a year.

Massa got that job instead and when MS retired, Todt was no way going to have Alonso on board (especially as he had agreed to go to Mclaren) so he chose the next best thing and that was Kimi.

Once Todt had stepped down, the tide began to turn against Kimi, especially given what had gone on at Mclaren. Kimi knew this and signed for another year in 2010, so Santander bought him out, as planned by Kimi.

Now Ferrari have the driver they wanted all along, whose role was filled by Massa due to Todt. Kimi was never the replacement for MS that they wanted, it was Alonso.

Massa ought to have thought about this or perhaps he did and has decided to come out fighting.

31

Massa being able to handle Alonso…hmmm Time flies so fast, it was just a short time ago that it was Kimi that Massa wouldn’t be able to handle.

He (Massa) runs a hot blood in those veins as most of his Countrymen do, Senna was a quiet? Barrichello didn’t speak up this year? Piquet never spoke out or up?

I remember Massa confronting Alonso at a certain weigh-in not so long ago. Can’t handle him?

I have enjoyed a love hate relationship watching Alonso, I recall hearing him run the jawbone a bit during his first year as champ against a Michael Schumacher in which I thought, just get in the car and drive as well.

It’s good for personality and I agree with those that have said, Massa is Ferrari thru and thru and I believe that goes both ways.

One thing is for sure, Ferrari will have the talent next year, lets hope they have the car.

32

2010: Alonso’s first year at Ferarri, and Massa’s last. It will be a shame for Massa, but Alonso will never be his “team mate”, just his closest rival, and the man who will force Massa out the door.

33

Raikkonen came to Ferrari and Massa sent him packing.

Bye Bye Alonso.

34

Nothing wrong with that IMO. All racers should be in F1 to win and that includes beating their teammate. One Kovalainen in the paddock is enough, thanks very much.

35

Having known Fernando, the evil warrior, don’t you think this might in fact work against Massa? If Fernando gets a sniff of the fact that Felipe is still loosing his sleep over 2008, he might just make sure everytime they come face to face, Felipe gets more enraged. This way he might be just able to get under the skin of Felipe and slowly but steadily throw him off-track.

36

Maybe people should stop analysing all of this and just concentrate on what he is saying.

Alonso was in on it.

37

The difference between Alonso and Massa is that Massa drives for his dream of Ferrari while Alonso drives for Fernando Alonso.

Massa has the power base at Ferrari (since 2003) and Alonso knows it.

38

This is simply great, bring on 2010!!

I’ve never been so excited for a new season, it’s potential is staggering!

Top Tags
SEARCH McLaren Honda
JA ON F1 In association with...
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer

Sign up to receive the latest F1 News & Updates direct to your inbox

You have Successfully Subscribed!