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Ferrari reacts to media storm over Smedley’s call to “destroy” Hamilton’s race
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Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Oct 2011   |  2:44 pm GMT  |  170 comments

The aftermath of the collision between Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa at Singapore shows no signs of abating. Immediately after the race we had Massa attempting to confront the Englishman, who rebuffed him in front of the TV cameras at the track.

Then there came the suggestion that the F1 drivers want to meet with FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting in Suzuka this weekend to discuss Hamilton’s overly aggressive driving. Then at the weekend F1.com ran a race edit featuring a radio clip of Massa’s race engineer Rob Smedley urging his driver to,”Hold Hamilton as much as we can. Destroy his race as much as we can, c’mon boy!” The Daily Mail has worked that up into a story and many others have piled in behind them.

It was Smedley who delivered the infamous words to Massa last season in Germany, “Fernando is faster than you, do you understand?” – possibly the most demotivating words Massa has ever heard via radio during a race, as they were a code for him to move over.

What is most interesting about Smedley’s choice of words in the latest incident is that he feels that the best way to motivate Massa is to get him to see that “destroying” Hamilton’s race is a positive thing to do. It’s a very aggressive attitude, but it speaks to that part of Massa’s psyche which has not forgiven nor forgotten the loss of the 2008 world championship to Hamilton, largely due to the pit lane debacle during the safety car in Singapore, which was triggered by Nelson Piquet’s deliberate accident. Massa has called for that race result to be annulled and described that incident as a “robbery”.

Massa and Hamilton have tangled in the past and although there wasn’t anything in it championship-wise for either man in Singapore, Smedley is clearly trying hard to get an out of sorts Massa to rediscover his form by appealing to the part of Massa that really dislikes his rival.

The famous Horse Whisperer – Ferrari’s “bloggy” way of saying controversial things without them appearing as official Ferrari statements – described the Daily Mail’s story as “a polemical mountain made out of the molehill that was the phrase delivered by Rob Smedley during the Singapore Grand Prix.”

It goes on, “It’s true that Felipe Massa’s race engineer was caught up in the heat of the moment and chose to use the verb “destroy” at some point. It might not have been the most politically correct choice of word, but it definitely carried no malicious intent, especially when you take into account that Rob is a Middlesbrough lad, born and bred!

“It is also true that this exhortation to Felipe came at the exit to Turn 5 on lap 11 of the race, at the end of which both the Ferrari man and Hamilton were due to come in to the pits together. In other words, it had nothing to do with the collision between Felipe and Lewis that happened on the following lap.”

Massa himself has written today in his blog on the Ferrari website, “I don’t recall what Rob said. I don’t think there’s any value in stirring up trouble now and trying to link this with the subsequent contact with
Hamilton: they are two separate moments and they have nothing to do with each other. I’m sure that Lewis and I will find a way to clear this up and put a lid on this story, as is only correct between two drivers. What happens on the track should remain on the track.”

Ferrari clearly wants to cool things down a little and who can blame them? On the face of it Smedley’s words can be construed as unsporting and an extreme interpretation of the rules might see scope for some sanction against the team.

But this issue collides with the ongoing debate about Hamilton’s driving among his competitors. Let’s not forget Hamilton was the one penalised with a drive through in Singapore for tapping Massa’s wheel and puncturing his tyre, which actually did destroy Massa’s race.

Whiting meets the drivers at 5pm on Fridays at every race, so there will be a meeting. But whether any of the drivers will pipe up and say anything, time will tell. It’s never a good idea for drivers to be singled out by other drivers for discussion, as has been proposed with the drivers’ meeting about Hamilton in Suzuka. It sets a precedent which none of the drivers really needs and which could come back to haunt any of them.

This story redresses the balance a little by making Hamilton look like a victim and no doubt that was part of the motivation for this being blown up into something. That and the fact that the title race is pretty much over..

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1

Bad news for Massa: if it comes to sorting out the troubles on the track rather than in the press, Hamilton will win the argument every day of the week.

Lord knows why Massa is driving a Ferrari. It must be something to do with loyalty or status quo or something. Or maybe its because Ferrari don’t seem to like putting two quick drivers in the team at the same time. Where would this guy honestly rank in the field of drivers if he was driving an average car?

2

The is a world of difference between egging a driver on – to catch the car in front (positive), and telling him to wreck another (following) driver’s race (negative).

It is to be expected of ferrari though, who respond with the usual puffed up crap from the donkey ditherer.

3

How about before Belgium when Hamilton said “I wasn’t at the top of my game in the last race, and I want to make sure I’m at my best and the team are working towards being at their best so we can destroy the field.”

As much of a non-issue as what Smedley said should be.

4

I’d like to point out that, while those words…“Fernando is faster than you, do you understand?” may have been demotivating then, imagine how demotivated he must be now given that the same words could probably be said at every race to Felipe without any connotation – he is absolutely no match for his team mate. As for the story, its really just a sad state of affairs that this is just more fallout from what was poor judgement from Hamilton, something he has been guilty of multiple times. Felipe, guess what, you’ve been guilty of it many times too. Hug it out!

5

James,

If memory serves, wasn’t this story broken by FOM on their website? If that’s the case, had FOM not publised it then it would have gone unreported like the non-story it is.

It strikes me as something Bernie would do deliberately just to try and stir up trouble inside FOTA in the build up to the concorde negotiations..

6

This is probably just me but i find it surprising no-one else has mentioned it: no problem with destroying anyones race, thats good competitive stuff and no less than expected in f1. What rankles with me about the transmission is the ‘cmon boy’ part.

Massa is not some puppy fetching a stick. The disrespect seems palpable.

7

I don’t think it’s a NON story.

Shouldn’t Massa’s motivation be something along the lines of “Let’s see if we can win this one” or “We can beat Hamilton”.

But to target another driver just for the sake of destroying him (his race) seems ridiculous and at the expense of your own performance for the sake of revenge.

Both Hamilton and Massa are suffering psychologically this season. Mass because of his team mate’s ego and dominance and Hamilton because his dream career has faded somewhat and he is being matched (and occassionally beaten) by his (not rated by many) team mate, plus all the side line bling distractions.

As a fan of F1 I don’t want to hear such motivational statements.

I have always been ‘out’ on Massa’s ability and this year I am seeing nothing to convince me that he was ever going to win a title.

8

I think one of the reasons that Lewis gets so aggravated when other drivers blatantly block and shut the door on him, is that over the last couple of years since the Petrov incident (this year especially) he has been more than fair when other drivers make a move on him. I think he feels that he doesn’t receive the same consideration in return.

As for Massa, since the accident and Alonso’s arrival he’s not the driver he was. Of all the drivers I can think of (Schumacher included) he has by far the widest car out there this year. Invariably his job seems to be to hold up the cars behind so that Alonso can maximise his own chances, such a waste of a talented driver in his own right.

9

I don’t read anything into this except it is clear that one of the best ways for massa to stay at Ferrari is to act as a good assistant to fernando.

This takes me back to Monaco and there collision there where massa clearly turned in early on Hamilton. What interests me most here is that massa I think was pitted early in Monaco to deliberately come out in front of Hamilton. James could you or anyone else confirm this or have I got it wrong?

I’m not saying that massa was at fault in either Monaco or Singapore it is more about Ferrari playing a team game. This is something that mclaren refuse to do and I think will mean that unless they build a stand out car they won’t win a championship because there drivers take points off each other.

10

I don’t see anything wrong with what Smedley said. I do hope though that Massa is a bigger man than to blame Hamilton for not winning the WDC. Championships are won and lost across an entire season not one race. Whilst I wanted Massa to win that year you have to accept that what is done is done and move on. Massa showed grace and sportsmanship above many of his peers at the time so I hope that is not spoiled now.

As for the drivers raising concerns about Hamilton’s driving you’d hope they’d be man enough to raise them direct with Hamilton first and only go to Charlie Whiting if they felt they were getting nowhere and still needed some action. For all his mistakes, that is what they are and whilst he needs to learn a bit more self control it is not like he crashes on purpose. As much as I’m not a fan of Hamilton I do think F1 would be poorer if he wasn’t there but he does need to find the right balance.

11

In my opinion it was within the rules but unsporting and not really the sort of action you would expect from the Ferrari team. Ferrari used to have the mantra of trying their best to recieve the best possible team result at each race.

Ferrari seem to have developed a real Hamilton/Mclaren complex since 2007 that they need to get over.

I can’t imagine Red Bull or Mclaren ordering their drivers to do the same.

12

… Just as, last year, no-one expected Red Bull to directly order their #2 driver not to overtake #1.

C’mon lads, a little less naiveness. This is a sport, a very competitive one and, over all, it involves huge amounts of money.

13

What happening to Formula 1. The Italian press is pushing for drivers to meet and discuss Lewis. If its true than the drivers who speak up should be kicked out of F1.Massa is just being used by Ferrari for Alonso’s benefit.His days are numbered at Ferrari. Lewis is one of the best drivers currently, but he needs to calm down. When you try to hard mistakes are bound to happen. Hopes he does well in Japan.

14

Where does it say that the Italian media is pushing for this meeting? My understanding is that they merely reported that some of the drivers want to discuss Lewis’s anticts at the drivers meeting which is held every race weekend. And as it turns out it wasnlt a made up story. This is how things get twisted and blown out of proprtin IMO, buy some who read somehing and add their spin to it or only hear what they wanna hear instead of checing the facts first.

15
Craig in Manila

I have no problem with either the words used or the intent of those words.

F1 is a team sport and Massa was being asked to act as a team member. Delaying a pursuing driver is a valid team-oriented move, what should he do ? Move over for Lewis ? Gimme a break.

As long as Massa drives legally, there can be no concerns. All Hamilton had to do was overtake him.

If Massa drove illegally and blocked outside of the rules, he should be penalised.

In regard to the words used : MORE PLEASE.

F1 is too “nice” and a bit of emotion is good to hear.

Or perhaps the Brit media would rather that Smedley said “Felipe, please go to Strategy 7. Confirm please” and this whole thing would never have been mentioned.

16

Wow James, are you actually admitting that the British media makes mountains out of molehills when there is nothing much else going on 😉

17

More interesting than this is the interview with Tombazis on 2012 Ferrari car….

18
Adrian Newey Jnr

The problem is that the media has built up Hamilton to hyper status. He has used this to his advantage. However the downside is all the scruitiny when things are going badly. I can’t help think if Hamilton had had a few tough years at the beginning, he may have matured a bit more and not said/done some of the regrettable things that are now distracting him. Perhaps for the sake of his career, this year is a learning exercise.

19
Grayzee (Australia)

Oh dear! This is exactly the sort of “politics” that Mark Webber wants nothing to do with after his F1 career(see other article)

Get over it and move on, please!

20

Isn’t Smedley’s choice of words more about the car than about Massa? Isn’t it surely that Smedley knows that the car isn’t the best perfoming car this year, and thus not really all about Massa’s status at Ferrari, or Alonso profiting?

Unfortunate choice of words, yes, especially seeing the hullaballoo about them since, but more about the realities of the Ferrari rather than a deliberate ploy. (“Keep racing, but seeing as your car is slower than his car, you’ll maybe gain something – some points! – at the end if you can keep him behind for as long as possible”, rather than “Mess his race up”.)

I’m far from a Ferrari fan, but I’m not convinced that Smedley is malicious. But then, maybe I’m being naive.

21

Hamilton has destroyed more people’s races this year than any other driver in the last decade.

Antagonising him however… Not a good idea.

22

Can you imagine if it was Lewis’s race engineer telling him to “destroy” Massa’s race. Ferrari would be up in arms about it and start throwing there toys out of the pram trying to get Lewis thrown out of the next race or get Mclaren detected some points.

23

This might enlighten you! Have a guess who said this.. “I wasn’t at the top of my game in the last race, and I want to make sure I’m at my best and the team are working towards being at their best so we can destroy the field.”

A driver who wants to destroy the field? how shocking, how dare a driver use such an emotive word as “destroy”

Anyway, here’s a hint, it wasn’t Felipe Massa, it was the guy who’s only real chance of destroying a field would be if he went out of control (very likely) while ploughing or spraying crops while driving a Massey Ferguson/John Deere.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/formula_one/14670478.stm

24

Must admit I didn’t see that, but a driver (of any team) saying he wants to destroy the whole field means (to me at least) that he wants to win and have the best car to give him that chance of wining. Different situation of targeting one driver. I’m not really a Hamilton fan or a Ferrari one come to that but I do think Rob Smedley telling Massa this, was just wrong even if it was to try and motivate his driver.

25

Probably would have cost McLaren a $100m fine in the Mosley era !

26

Like I say, “extreme interpretation of the rules”, as we used to see sometimes.

27

Lewis is nowhere near as immoral behind the wheel as Ayrton Senna was at the height of his career – or Michael Schumacher throughout his.

Has anyone ever seen Lewis deliberately drive into another car to secure a win, let alone a World Championship – or even attempt to force another driver into the wall ?

Remember the infamous Schumacher / Barichello incident in Hungary last year ?

Can you imagine the outcry we would have heard had it been Lewis who almost drove Rubens into the wall ?

He’s has never faked a loss of control and parked his car on the track either !

Yet Schumacher consistently gets off scott free and Lewis has criticism heaped on him from all sides.

Last week’s incident was an unfortunate minor incident. The cars were so close, the smallest misjudgement on Hamilton’s part or a miniscule lift by Massa would have been enough to cause the cars to touch. Yet Lewis gets a penalty for it.

It seems very clear that Lewis is consistently being judged by very different standards to every other F1 driver, past or present. One has to wonder why.

It’s a fact that if you are faster than those around you and overtake more often than others you are bound to be involved in more incidents.

Unless, of course, your name is Jenson Button.

28

We could compare this to last year when Mark Webber accidentally hit Lewis’s car. Lewis even claimed it to be a racing incident and not Webber’s fault they just touched. That’s maturity, but Massa may also feel what he did was over the top, but he was also frustrated with himself and with the incident.

At Singapore GP, Lewis was frustrated as he started up in 4th and ended up down 7th or 8th after the start, a good fight back apart from the unintentional hit on Massa. Lewis is in a phase at the moment and will come out of it sooner. I do feel he has come out of the phase as the second half of the GP Lewis did drive exceptionally well. He can overtake if he connects his mind, like Jackie Stewart observed.

30

Yeah, I’m not sure what to make of it, but the catcalls to me seem viscerally partisan and over-the-top. Smedley’s call had an aggressive tone, but hardly unsporting.

I think a commonsense interpretation of Smedley’s message would be just be something like “hold him off” – with motivation.

Likewise the scheduled meeting over Hamilton, if it is to take place. Granted Hamilton’s been in accidents this year, but they were all very minor infractions so far as I could see. I actually think his driving in 2008 was more over-the-top – I’m thinking of pushing Timo Glock off the circuit at Monza – but it just happened so that there were fewer incidents for him that year (albeit he still racked up 5 penalties from the stewards for his behaviour).

31

All that I can say is… F1 is turned into Yuck1… If Kimi doesn’t come back in 2012 or if Mercedes doesn’t give Schuey a competitive car… I really don’t have time Yuck1 no more… Sorry, but this has become a sport of classless and the immature.

Oh and the constant unjust praising and justification of actions… All I can say is Hamilton is nothing but a Senna wannabe with a serious speed deficit compared to Ayrton… Unless a driver can beat on a regular basis his teammate by over 1.5 seconds in qualifying… Leave comparatives to Senna alone… its a dishonor to the great man.

32

But when Martin Whitmarsh says he wants his team to be “feared” next year, that isn’t considered a ghetto/non-F1 type of statement, and is swept aside. Smedley makes a fairly typical “coaching” type comment over the radio, and since he works for “that bloody red” team, it’s a massive tempest in a teacup…

33
Brazilian SpeedRacer

Ferrari´s (literature, ha, ha, ha,…) and Massa´s (“I can´te remenber what Rob said…”, ha, ha, ha, and no one told you,…) “reaction” tell no lies that it was planned, and in a very bad way.

BTW, i´m brazilian.

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