Massa will do his talking behind closed doors
Scuderia Ferrari
Massa will do his talking behind closed doors
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Apr 2010   |  7:18 pm GMT  |  222 comments

The incident where Fernando Alonso passed Felipe Massa on the way into the pits in yesterday’s Chinese Grand Prix has sparked a great deal of debate and is likely to be the subject of a significant amount of internal discussion at Ferrari, once everyone finally gets back to Maranello. Will the management want to calm the troubled waters or express their admiration for the killer instinct of their new driver?

It didn’t kick off in Shanghai, because Felipe Massa chose to play it straight and not moan about his team mate’s actions, as many drivers would have done in the past. But behind closed doors one imagines that he will have a few things to say. Because this was quite a move by Alonso and it made quite a statement.


It is hard not to see it as Alonso asserting his claim to be team leader. He imposed himself over his team mate at that vital moment because he knew that not to do so would hold him back and would cost him time and places. So he put Massa into that position instead.

This action has really got the Italian media going; Italy’s leading F1 journalist Pino Allievi, writing in the Gazzetta dello Sport claims that,
“We will be talking for a long time about the lightning pass on Massa in the pit lane entry. Such a thing has never been seen before between two Ferrari drivers.”

Pino should know – he’s been around for a long time and had strong links to “The Old Man” himself.

Colleagues who spoke to Massa after the race say he was pretty stony faced, but not about to do his dirty laundry in public. He told Italian colleagues,
“My wheels spun coming out of the hairpin. I didn’t know that he was also coming into the pits, but he came alongside me and when I saw him on the inside there wasn’t much I could do, I didn’t want to create an incident.”

Alonso started to lose his temper with the Italian media when they grilled him about it, “If you are looking for me to say the wrong thing you’re wasting your time, ” he snarled. “Nothing happened. He got wheelspin on the exit of the corner and I came out better and passed him. If it had happened between two cars of a different colour no-one would write a line, but as it’s us people will talk about it for ages for no reason.”

Team boss Stefano Domenicali will know that this is not the end of the matter. It needs to be carefully managed. We already have the rumours about Ferrari being cagey on a contract renewal for Massa, because he hasn’t been close enough on pace to Alonso this season and there have been stories linking Robert Kubica to the seat.

“We are friends,” said Kubica of Alonso at the weekend. “We were almost team-mates at BMW and if you believe what you read, it might happen again in the future.”

However there are also contrary stories that a one year extension for Massa is being prepared.

Domenicali’s two drivers were always going to have moments like this, it was just a question of when. In Bahrain Alonso jumped Massa at the start and it gave him the basis for his win. In Australia Massa got him back and Alonso could not pass him, even though he appeared to be faster.

Those were racing incidents and according to Domenicali, so was the one in China, although he admitted that,
“It happened in a place where you wouldn’t expect a pass. But for us it was a normal racing episode, they are both professionals and this is part of racing.”

He also made the point that the drivers did well to radio as they came down the pit lane, that Alonso was in front so the mechanics didn’t fit Massa’s intermediate tyres to him by mistake.

What is interesting about this incident is that the pair were coming in together, one of three double stops the Ferrari team made on the day.

It had started raining again and everyone was on slicks. The four cars in front of them had decided to stop on that lap for intermediates; that was 7th place Schumacher, Webber in 8th, Alguersuari, 9th and 10th place Sutil.

The cars running at the front however pitted a lap later; that was Button, Rosberg, Kubica, Petrov, Hamilton and Vettel – all of whom judged that an extra lap was desirable.

But Rosberg’s extra lap was 10 seconds slower than his previous lap, so pitting when the Ferraris did was the right call. Alonso felt that it was the moment and took no prisoners when he saw Massa struggling for grip out of the hairpin.

So when Massa says that he didn’t know Alonso was pitting at the same time, it rather implies that this was either a late call by Alonso himself or a communications breakdown whereby they both decided to come in at the same time.

For Gazzetta dello Sport there is no doubt of the significance of this. The Spaniard has had enough of politely waiting around and wanted to make sure he stays close to the championship fight. This was “The day when Alonso grabbed the role of team captain.”

It’s great stuff. It’s what makes F1 such a compelling sport.

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1

If Massa leaves Ferrari it won’t be to Renault. It will be to Sauber to replace de la Rosa in a Ferrari-Sauber relationship. Massa will mentor Kobayashi at Sauber, while back at Ferrari, Massa’s replacement won’t be Kubica. It will be the first driver that was announced into their new young driver development program, Jules Bianchi.

2

On the Vettel/Hamilton pit entry.

Hamilton WAS NOT passing Vettel, He was already ahead. It was Vettel who got a better exit out the hairpin that got alongside on the right but never got ahead & then they both pitted. Lewis did signal to Vettel that he was pitting but Vettel either didn’t see it or chose to ignore it & stayed alongside.

Was similar with Massa/Alonso except Alonso was passing Massa. However the speed advantage Alonso had coming off the hairpin meant he would have been crazy not to try it.

3

Piquet-2 titles,Mansell-0.I cannot see a team wasting resources.Give both drivers a chance at the championship as long as possible.Once one has a clear advantage later in the season,that’s different.Then it makes sense to back the leader in points.

Felipe Massa has proved himself to be worthy of this treatment.He has the desire after having come so close,as well as the most difficult person to be judged against in terms of race pace.As with Button,I still think he may be able to make a respectable showing at least and not be relegated to strictly second status.And he should let his results speak for him as all drivers should.

4

Team Play is missing in the era of driver equality.

Sure, it’s only fair a team tries not to favour one driver over another, if their strategy is to have equality.

However, a little team-play from Massa would have increased Ferraris points haul dramatically this year – all he needs to do is let FA past, and try to keep up – chances are that he would take even more points himself

I’m glad Massa isn’t airing a grievance over this. I don’t even know that he should have one, but if he should he should have it out with FA, or his engineer or his manager – all of them should tell him to pull up his socks and get some speed on!

5

Putting things into perspective, and no I’m not an Alonso fan so you know.

Overtaking a team mate in the pit lane, well you know the consequences of such a move. Didn’t see that one coming. I don’t recall Massa blocking his team mate, and this makes me think of Hamilton stuck behind Sutil and having to surrender. That was racing. When the same Hamilton was waving in front of Petrov that was a bit iffy but in my very own books that was ok.

I would be a fan by choice, and to be very honest I would rather choose a driver whose personality is likable. Or for nationalistic reasons, things like that. Like in football.

Massa did not make a fuss of it. He had the elegance to say that he slipped, and I think that he was more concerned by the team when he said that.

Flashback on the Hungarian Grand Prix 2007, and what happened in the McLaren pits..

6

Massa wins in Barcelona!

Now that would be the way to respond. I think it’s possible, or at least, 2nd to Vittel. Alonso would find that devastating. Fireworks aplenty….

7

Massa must feel gutted by now. Alonso and Santander are slowly taking over his beloved Ferrari:

1. Alonso made it clear to Schumacher that he was no longer welcome in the Ferrari kitchen. Schumacher is a great friend to Massa, they’re brothers to each other.

2. Alonso took Massa (his team mate) and Ferrari by surprise as they were expecting Massa to pit, not Alonso. Massa was not defending his on track position. He was on his way to pit! Hence his surprise at Alonso’s move. He didn’t expect Alonso to be following him to the pit box!

So far, Massa is having a great and consistent comeback after his freak accident. Massa lives and breaths Ferrari! Unlike Alonso, whose true dream team is … McLaren! But we all know that story, don’t we?

8

One thing people also forget is that Massa was leading the championship and Alonso clearly showed his desperatation over that by pulling the selfish stunt on Massa and the team.

The Italian media have estimated that Alonso gained about 6-7 seconds by cutting in front of Massa.

People should think about that before stating that Massa is a mess and should concentrate on his own driving instead of on beating Alonso.

To me it looks like it’s the other way around.

9

The problem is that Massa finished the race 48 seconds behind Alonso.

48-6 = 42 -> still a huge gap Massa needs to close up, and real soon

10

Get over it. F1 isn’t for wousies. You will never win a title if your only hope is to finish a race and in need of an engineer who tells you when to push the throttle.

11

Alonso is a dirty driver as proved by his move on Massa. I hope Felipe thrashes him this season, and Alonso leaves Ferrari like he did Mclaren in 2007. He brings nothing but aggro to the team.

12

To put your own team mate down like that shows utmost disrespect both for the team and the team mate and is very very shortsighted.

Alonso did a completely selfish act and he has messed up 3 of 4 starts already and had a DNF perhaps because he went after Button and it only shows his concern of being behind Massa.

Alonso has so far shown no consistency and the rubbish about him being a complete driver – well… I’m still waiting to see that.

It was a desperate move to cut in before Massa and at the same time he also put down the team who should be making the calls.

How on earth could Massa have even thought of his team mate pulling a stunt like that?

The atmosphere in Ferrari is already full of negativity and tension and that is something a team does not need to handle on top of the other pressure so Alonso did not do any favour to Ferrari or himself for that matter.

How is he going to expect any help from Massa in the future should he need it?

There was always respect between Massa and Kimi and both helped each other when it was necessary but I see Hungary 2007 happening again and if something doesn’t go the way Mr. Alonso wants then the Team Ferrari can go down the drain for all he cares.

It is good to observe things from another perspective too:

In 2007 the ugly fight was between Alonso and Hamilton.

Now they both have strong team mates again and look how classy Hamilton acted when Button took the victory. It was genuine happiness for his team mate.

Which makes me wonder…. was Hamilton at fault in 2007 or has he grown as a person?

Alonso certainly hasn’t.

No company does well if they have internal fights and tension, we’ve seen that too many times.

Sure, Schumacher was driver number one but he earned it during the years and therefore he brought Ferrari both WCCs and WDCs. I don’t see that happening in Ferrari now since Alonso just comes into the team and starts taking his position in a rather ugly way. I saw the same happening in McLaren too in 2007.

Hopefully Massa keeps his class since the Italian media has already condemned Alonso’s act and once he falls out of their popularity things go only one way.

Interesting to see how Ferrari will deal with the situation. Will they keep the troublemaker or get a lapdog to ensure that the troublemaker stays calm. They have Fisichella and it might be a wise move to take him in Massa’s place. Not that it’s something admirable but it depends on how they want to solve it.

Giving out empty press releases where they assure that things are okay are only to keep up the appearance and hide what is going on behind the doors.

The brutal fact is though that the problem in itself is not solved and who knows, maybe things have already taken a turn from where there’s no turning back anymore?

To pull a stunt like that on your team mate shows utmost disrespect for the team and the team mate!

13

“Will they keep the troublemaker”? Let’s ask Santander if they’d like to supply another platinum parachute. I’m sure any image problems would blow over in no time.

14

Midnight in the garden of good and evil.

For right or wrong it seems all of you love Alonso. Everybody loves this kind of character when racing is all about

15

I echo some of the comments elsewhere in this thread; if it is not permissible to pass another driver outside of the white line on the pit lane exit, it should not be permissible to pass another driver outside of the white lines on the pit lane entry. The FIA needs to amend the regulations now, unless they want a pile-up at the pit lane entrance at a future race.

I hope that Felipe Massa told Fernando that if he tries that again, he will hold his line and there will be a collision that will result in Fernando having to answer most of the awkward questions.

As far as penalties are concerned…the only penalty that will impact a driver will be a suspension from one or more future races. Fines are chump change to most drivers, probation is merely a slap on the wrist, and either of those actions will send the signal that the FIA is not really serious about changing behaviour.

16
neil murgatroyd

a) the ‘don’t cross white lines’ rule is for the ones that separate the pit lane from the RACE TRACK, this was not the case in China

ii) the problem with suspensions, grid drops etc. is that they affect race results and can appear to be officials interfering with racing in an impartial manner. Its only OK for clear infractions (jump start etc.), admittedly one mans clear infraction isn’t anothers…

It’s much better to issue clarifications if a driver takes advantage of a grey area.

I think:

1)the overtake at the start of the pits was OK

2)dicing in the pit side by side is somewhere between a reprimand, fine, or 5 places drop next grid

3)Button slow down was marginal but OK, you can’t blame JB for behaviour farther down the grid, it isn’t a predictable event

4)Your pessimism about driver behaviour is untested and IMO unfounded, LH says he won’t try the same ‘break the tow’ move again, no fine, no problem, no distortion of the results by stewards

5)It is IMPOSSIBLE to define a set of rules which will govern all future behaviour in the way that is expected when the rules are set, see ash cloud rules 4 details

17

4). My pessimism is rooted in observation of driver behaviour over many years, and is corroborated by ex drivers. I remember many years ago after a pile-up at the start of a Grand Prix, an ex-driver said “this is bound to happen. Put 26 of the world’s best drivers on the grid, show them a red light, and commonsense goes out of the window”. Lewis Hamilton can say what he likes in interviews, talk is cheap, but when he is out on the track the insinctive competitor in him will be dominating (that is how he got to where he is right now), and I suspect that he will do what he fees he can get away with at the time.

5) the objective is not to create a set of rules that covers absolutely everything. That’s partly why they have stewards, if the rules were totally clear you wouldn’t need stewards except as a rubber stamp for a verdict. The objective should be to look at the rules to ensure that safety is #1, and that you cannot render the circuit unusable if accidents occur in a race. if two drivers collide at the entrance to the pit lane, that is likely to result in a race stoppage. That is not a smart outcome.

18

lets keep this simple. Massa made the mistake by his own admission. Alonso captalised and took the inside line which gave him right of way for left hander into the pits. The problem occurred because massa knowing he had lost the advantage didn’t want to give it up and ended up in the gravel. 50 50 alls fair in love and war and formula 1.

19

I think Massa’s problem is that he is excellent on some circuits, and quite average on others. Luckily for him, a few of those are gone now, so it will be interesting to see how he goes on a few of the tracks that he’s done well at, such as Barcelona. I’m sure he would love to win on Alonso’s home soil.

Also, considering Massa’s previous bad starts to the season, I think he has been a little too conservative, just hoping to score some good points.

It will be interesting to see what happens over the course of the season – and its great that all the promise of the 2010 season is coming to fruition!

20

Also I think the stewards really need to jump over the whole business of racing into the pit lane. You can’t tell me that Vettel’s easing Hamilton over towards the air guns wasn’t directly connected to Hamilton’s move coming in. Cause and effect on an escalating scale.

21

The situation at Ferrari between Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa was always going to be a tricky one.

To an extent, both drivers have something to prove in 2010. Alonso is returning to a top team for the first time since 2007 and wants to remind people how good he is. Massa is returning to F1 following his injury in Hungary last year and needs to show he’s still got what it takes. The Massa contract talks add another dimension. This is one of the dramatic undercurrents that will run all year, in one form or another.

Massa will have been kicking himself when Alonso passed him on the first lap in Bahrain, allowing Alonso to benefit from Sebastian Vettel’s sparkplug problem. The first corner clash in Australia put Alonso behind Massa in the race, and Massa looked utterly determined to keep his team mate behind him (if no one else) at all costs. Alonso was careful with his words after the race, but he clearly felt he’d been faster than Massa. Malaysia saw Massa finish on top again, but Alonso – carrying a gearbox problem – put in the more impressive drive. Alonso found himself stuck behind Massa again in China and decisively made his way past into the pits.

Emnity between Ferrari drivers is not exactly a novelty. Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello fell out on occasion, notably in Monaco 2005. Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost were never the greatest of friends when they were teamed at Ferrari in 1990, Prost accusing Mansell of nearly taking him out at the start in Portugal. The Gilles Villeneuve/Didier Pironi feud in 1982 is the most famous one, given that it arguably killed one of them. Niki Lauda was dismissively contemptuous of Carlos Reutemann in 1977 (Reporter: “Do you see Carlos as a rival or a team mate?”, Lauda: “Neither”).

And perhaps that’s the nearest historical precedent to the Massa/Alonso situation. Returning from his near fatal crash at the Nurburgring in 1976, Lauda pulled out of the title deciding final race and left James Hunt to win the title. For 1977 Reutemann replaced the genial Clay Regazzoni alongside Lauda, who saw Reutemann as symbolic of Ferrari’s loss of faith in him. Lauda’s response was devastating – he won the title with two races to go and promptly left Ferrari before the end of the season.

The pitlane pass was a raw deal for Felipe and he’ll be feeling somewhat bruised. But he’s doing himself few favours by being off the pace and holding his faster team mate back. He needs to get his head straight and recapture his previous form, fast.

22

I would say this event has brought Massa to a crossroads: He can either say that’s it! get his head down, focus his energies and step up his game – which I think he has the ability to do. Or he can relinquish the path to greatness and follow in Barichello’s footsteps. Maybe the arrival of a child has rearranged his priorities.

After reading most of the comments above I still think Alonso’s move was not acceptable – purely because this was a teammate and the consequencs for the whole team could have been severe. The wrong tires on a wet pit lane entrance and you make a decision that risks collision with your teammate??!?

If Massa had held Alonso up in previous races – why did Alonso not find a way past him? If he couldn’t he should have no complaint about being behind – clearly he was lacking sufficient speed or skill to pass?

Personally I think Alonso is a damned fool for alienating Massa. He may well need his help later in the season. Not a man who learns from past mistakes it seems.

23

I think Massa knows he is now a #2… There is no way he would have let Kimi get away with that, but then again he and Kimi were equal, I think Alonso and Santander have a lot of power already at Ferrari…. Plus they have always won with a #1 driver at Ferrari so I assumed they would find their way back to that again.

24

When you exit the pit lane, you have to stick within the white lines. The same rule should apply to the entrance too. If those Ferrari’s had crashed, it would have effectively closed the pit lane until their cars were cleared from the scene. With the rain falling even harder, this would have meant a lot of cars would have had to either slow down comepltely or spin off. Granted it wasn’t just the Ferraris that did it, but it’s only a matter of time before someone has a crash there.

25

I’ve been reading these comments this week and getting increasingly annoyed. First I’d like to assume the stewards know the rules and how to interpret them better than a bunch of guys on a f1 website (myself included).

Secondly what is mostly here is complaints about people’s least favourite drivers not getting a penalty for a risky bit of driving.

When did people start clamouring for so many drivers to get penalties? When the FIA started handing them out en masse that’s when. At the time most people complained that it was ruining the actually racing spectacle and the FIA have backed off somewhat with a more balanced system of warnings and reprimands which seem to have been heeded, hence no weaving on Sunday in China.

If we’d seen drivers avoid the moves people want penalised this weekend we would have seen a much more processional race without half the excitement.

I’m all for arguments on whether Alonso is better than Hamilton or whether Massa should be number one at Ferrari but forget the penalties. And don’t use the ‘it’s dangerous’ argument, motor racing is dangerous.

26

Who said dangerous?

It was greedy, selfish, not thinking about the team but himself….if Massa didnt react and avoided collision, Alonso would be responsible for 2 crashed Ferraris in the pitlane and people would call it one of the most pathetic moves in F1.

27

Alonso is bad news…..lol

He’ll bring Ferrari to its knees, you watch.

28

There are reports from Brasilian media which says that Massa talked, or rather shouted at Alonso after the race and told him that next time he wont change his line to avoid a collision Alonso was creating…..he used very colorful language.

….and so it begins.

29

Like him or not, Alonso is the most complete driver on the grid at the moment. He’s nearly as talented behind the wheel as Hamilton, and handily exceeds him in racecraft. While I root for him to lose, I give him respect when he wins. Were it not for Lewis’ magnificent first season and Fred’s subsequent exile in a diminished Renault squad, he would be chasing after Schumacher’s records.

30

Err no, he is not the most complete driver on the grid, he makes too many mistakes. Jump starting the grid was beyond a school boy error, it was unforgiveable. When was the last time a driver jumped the start?

The most complete driver on the grid is Jenson Button. He doesn’t have ultimate pace, but his racecraft is the best at the moment.

Alonso is driving like a headless chicken. Massa only allows a driver to get the better of him once, ask Lewis.

31

I wonder whether Kimi would have done the same thing? I don’t think he would.

So what does this say about both Alonso, Massa and Ferrari?

I hope there’s a big falling out as it’ll add another dimension to the season as I fear when the rain stops all the excitement on track will disappear, after all we have been spoilt with the last 3 great races haven’t we?

32

Does anyone think that Massa has lost some pace since his accident last year?

33

I don’t want to sound like an Alonso advocate, but the fact of the matter is he was on the inside and Massa could have slowed down to avoid going onto the gravel once Alonso had got on the curb on the inside of him. Vettel did the same when Hamilton overtook him on the same spot.

I really don’t understand what’s the big deal about this maneuver.

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