There’s an awkward interview in El Pais, the leading Spanish daily paper, which was done during the Spa weekend with Felipe Massa and which slipped under the radar.
Reading it through, it seems very familiar; a newspaper goes to interview the underachieving team mate of its national hero and asks him how he feels about being beaten by their man. For Massa in this scenario you could insert any driver down the years who has found himself paired with an ace.
However Massa is slightly different in that he was a contender; 11 times a Grand Prix winner, he almost won the 2008 world championship, thought he had in fact for about 30 seconds after victory in the Brazilian Grand Prix, until Lewis Hamilton scrabbled past Timo Glock into the fifth place he needed to snatch the title away from him.
Massa’s dignity in defeat that day was the most impressive memory of the whole occasion. And so it is today, faced with a Spanish journalist wanting to know what has changed since that 2008 season when Massa won six races.
“Nothing, I am exactly the same,” says the 30 year old Brazilian. “It is true that I have not got the results since then, but I have the same ambition and determination.”
Of course, two significant life changing things have happened since then; he had a huge accident where a spring from another car hit him in the face, taking him out for the second half of 2009 and then he became a father for the first time. Massa says that neither of these things has slowed him down.
“These two things give you a lot of experience, but none of it affects me when I get into the car – at that point you do not remember anything. I forget about my son, my wife, my father and mother. Michael (Schumacher) won many titles as a parent. People talk about it too much – although it is true that these two years have been the most intense of my life.”
Massa says that he feels he has the “full support” of Ferrari and that the moment he feels he no longer has it, “I will quit immediately.”
The facts are that the last two races have seen an upturn in Massa’s fortunes, certainly in terms of finding his speed. He has qualified ahead of Alonso in Hungary and Spa, although on both occasions he’s gone on to finish behind the Spaniard; in Spa a puncture spoiled his race.