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Felipe Massa shows character on a difficult weekend
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Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Sep 2013   |  11:00 am GMT  |  315 comments

Felipe Massa has not had many highs in his career since the day in 2008 when he thought he had won the world title by winning the Brazilian Grand Prix, only to find that Lewis Hamilton had managed to grab the fifth place he needed to become champion.

On the podium that day Massa was a picture of dignity; taking the disappointment on the chin and celebrating his race win in tears in front of his home fans.

At Monza this weekend we again saw Massa’s character. He looked sad all weekend, as if he knew that this could well be his last Monza as a Ferrari driver, but he still put in a strong performance, not least as a team player.

The team is making its decision on who will partner Alonso this week and Massa didn’t look all weekend like he believes it will be his name that comes out of the hat.

Nevertheless, he played the team game. On Saturday he played the lead out man for team mate Fernando Alonso, giving him a tow. When the fastest way to qualify is a single timed lap, as in Monza, this meant sacrificing his own lap. Ironically the pair got separated on the final run and Massa ended up qualifying ahead of Alonso in fourth place.

On Sunday he fought his way up into second place at the start, but then allowed Alonso to pass, under instruction from the pit wall, to challenge Vettel.


He missed out on third place because the strategy team allowed Webber to undercut him at the pit stop. Without that Massa would probably have ended up on the podium along with Vettel and Alonso.

As for what Ferrari will decide this week on his future, Massa said,

“I don’t know. Nothing is decided yet but it doesn’t depend on this race. It would be marvellous to stay at Ferrari, let’s see if there is a chance. I will speak with Montezemolo, I’m not sure when, but he knows me well and knows my value. As do other teams.”

There have been those in the paddock who have been saying that Raikkonen’s return to Ferrari is a “done deal”. German TV station RTL said it on Sunday after the race and BBC TV’s Eddie Jordan, who has had his fair share of ‘scoops’ over the last few years, has been saying it’s done for weeks.

Experienced Italian colleagues with many years ducking and diving around the corridors within the Scuderia were more cagey at the weekend, but seemed to think that in the end they would take Raikkonen, for his points scoring ability to help their Constructors’ Championship challenge and as a hedge against anything going wrong in the relationship with Alonso, leading to the Spaniard’s departure or sabbatical. The more Machiavellian third dimension to Raikkonen’s return is to show that they are standing up to Alonso, not giving him the run of the place.

However Raikkonen will not work in the simulator and will not service the team’s sponsors like Massa. Alonso referred to this on Sunday night, obliquely, when he said, “I have great respect for Felipe. He is a great professional; working in the simulator every day, working here in the paddock every day until late. Whatever the team’ decision I will be happy and if Felipe stays I will be maybe two times happier.”

Next year with significant technical changes, the simulator work is going to be important, but Ferrari also has Pedro de la Rosa, who is an expert in this area. But he’s not a race driver and from Raikkonen’s point of view, de la Rosa is very much Alonso’s man.

This brings us to the other side of the debate, which is – does Raikkonen actually want to drive for Ferrari again, alongside Alonso? I asked him on Thursday where he would like to drive and he said, “I change my mind every day!” The ongoing discussion has helped his negotiations with Lotus, with whom one senses he would prefer to stay. But he has to be convinced that they have the money and capability to produce a competitive car and only he knows whether they have given him satisfactory assurances. If he signs for Ferrari this week, it will be as much because of this as anything else.

Waiting patiently in the wings is Nico Hulkenberg, who did his chances no harm at all by qualifying a mediocre Sauber third on Saturday and then holding off the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg for a heroic fifth place in the race.

Ferrari has a close relationship with Sauber and knows something of Hulkenberg from his work with Ferrari engine technicians this year. Hulkenberg denied last year that he had any kind of promise from Ferrari when he took the Sauber drive or that they had an option on him, but he is considered by many F1 engineers to be the brightest prospect among the next generation of drivers and was able to demonstrate speed and consistency at the weekend.

Asked after the race about his hopes of a Ferrari drive he said, “It’s something I would not deny [his hopes of a Ferrari drive]. I’m definitely interested in it, it’s a no brainer. Will it happen? Time will tell.”

We don’t have long to wait.

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1

Agent Orange you just don’t get it? Well its called big business Santanders IPO in Brazil in 2009/10 was worth $9 billion , sure other drivers have had accidents but how many have had head injuries like Massa? I really think you need to look at the type of injury he suffered compared to others except Lauda also you have to remember it is Santanders money paying the Ferrari drivers except Kimi his salary has been made with Shell money for 2014/15, that’s why Massa has endured at Ferrari nice guy or not he (Massa) is Santanders PR man in Brazil, also in my previous post is said Kimi got a years wages to leave well it was 2 yrs = $51million

2

one has to admire Ferrari with Massa he is very lucky to alive let alone be racing a F1 car after that accident, I truly believe that Massa had the right stuff prior to the accident he was very fast, Kimi is the best choice of the available drivers for the team regardless weather Alonso likes it or not it is a positive move, as for some of the comments about Alonso’s time at Ferrari with no WDC it took MS 5yrs to gain another title after Benetton and Ferrari have made some monumental mistakes with strategy calls with Alonso over the past 4 yrs hence him occasionally spiting the dumbie not a good look for the team but it happens , with Kimi being paid out previously why would he be upset about getting a yrs salary to leave and its been his good fortune not to burn any bridges so that he has been able to come back, there is no telling what 2014 will bring to any team with their new cars but im sure the top 4 or 5 teams will be in the mix of the tops spots

3

This is going to seem harsh but I don’t get the allowances made for Massa since his crash.

Plenty of F1 drivers crash and continue racing. Part and parcel of the job.

Kubica’s almight smash at Canada

Webber flipping in Le Mans and F1

Perez Monaco

Schumacher Silverstone

Brundle Monaco

Button Monaco

Perhaps the ultimate – Lauda.

All big, big smashes and each driver came back to drive. They performed well so no question marks.

Massa repeatedly doesn’t and because he’s a nice guy he’s given the allowance of having had a bad crash.

Sorry just don’t get it.

4

Well, we know one thing:

Massa is out.

http://www1.skysports.com/formula-1/news/12474/8915504/felipe-massa-confirms-he-is-to-leave-ferrari

Best of luck to him. We should hear from Ferrari quite soon, I would imagine.

5

James who does Grosjean think is better Alonso or Raikkonen.

6

In general I agree with what you are saying. Massa and Webber just don’t quite have what their teammates possess in terms of ability. Thereafter, I think it snowballs, and you begin to perform below your natural ability. Massa would be driving better if- random example- Raikkonen was his teammate.

On the Raikkonen front, I think they would be sensible to have him back. Results speak volumes. He is their most recent champion.

7

Like your username!!

8

I don’t get the point from Alonso praising Massa of “working in the simulator every day, working here in the paddock every day until late”

Let me explain. You can work as hard as you like but if it does not bring in the result, it is still a fail.

Kimi was given bad reputation by Ferrari because Montezemolo didn’t like him. We know now that he is a great character when he is treated with respect and independence.

In the end, you can’t beat the fact that Kimi gave Ferrari 2 WCC and 1 WDC. While Alonso has given nothing but complaints.

9

@ JB

[mod]
In 2007 & 2008 the rules were very stable like the past seasons.

To say KIMI gave Ferrari 2 WCC and 1 WDC is really hilarious

How did kimi won is only WDC ? Massa let him through to take the victory in 2007 Brazilian GP. Ferrari produced the quickest car in the grid on 2007 & 2008. Kimi has done nothing spectacular to win WDC.

In 2008 & 2009 he was well beaten by massa which raised more than few eyebrows as to who was quick and strong driver. Naively saying Massa ran rings around kimi and rightly shown the door by Ferrari for his inconsistency

Alonso may have missed couple of close WDC titles because of the abysmal machinery produced by Ferrari every season since 2009 and the operational errors

Fact is Ferrari never read the regulation changes at all since 2009. Every season they started with poor car and played catch up with RBR. Ferrari must feel glad finally they once again have chance in 2014 to start season on the right foot

It does not matter who LDM likes at the moment.
Kimi was beaten by massa and Massa was trounced by Alonso which says it all

10

Just going correct a few facts.

Kimi was dominantly faster than Alonso throughout the 2005 season. It was the lack of reliability that killed his chance to compete against Alsonso. You could argue that Alonso drove to the finish line while the Mclaren just broke down before finish.

Kimi did let Massa pass in 2008 spa. But still Massa lost the WDC in the end.

2010 Alonso won the very first race in dominant manner. 2012, Alonso had a strong 1st half season. Ferrari had started off incredibly well. So Ferrari has not been as bad as you described.

Regarding the Massa faster than Kimi. 2007 was a complete opposite story. Despite Kimi being new to the team, he was faster.

I have only read conspiracies about Kimi’s poor performance in 2008-09. So it is not worth discussing it.

I am really confident that Kimi will trump Alonso in 2014. Lets see if my hunch is correct.

11

Definition of Insanity – To do something over and over again, expecting a different outcome.

That’s what Ferrari has been doing with their driver line-up since 2010. That’s 4 years of insanity.

Ferrari should get out of their comfort bubble and hire some proper drivers. Get Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Hulkenberg.

Alonso can go back to his fallback team (Lotus). Massa can do the same going back to Sauber. LOL

12

Kimi, I came to F1 world with you in 2007 when you were in red overalls so come on man, you are the samurai not a pseudo one – do it again – put your helmet on.

13

I’ll be sad if Massa ends up without a drive. He seems good when the team pressures him and he was good with Kimi where the team was very much around him given Kimi doesn’t talk to anyone, drive the sim etc.

I think with Alonso as a clear no1 and the team built round Alonso he has been a bit demotivated.

Also a shame if Kimi moves for me, I like Lotus a lot as a team and they seem to have been good at getting the best out of him like his old Mclaren days. He never seemed quite settled with the Ferrari before.

14

This is what is so frustrating with Massa. He only turns up and puts in a performance when he really, absolutely has to. When he turns up he’s clearly got something – just he rarely turns up.

Maybe his data would suggest otherwise but he never seems to give it his all race in, race out. Professional? Yes to a point but I’d also argue lazy and maybe not the cleverest driver. Smedley appears to have to walk him through each race corner by corner.

Solely for his inconsistency he shouldn’t be able to keep a seat in a team that want to be fighting for championships.

15

My thoughts exactly.

How can any fans tolerate this – “an engineers needs to teach the driver how to drive”?

16

I think it is too late for Felipe Massa. I believe he is going to be fired, or removed from the seat at the end of the season. I feel that they should go for Nico Hulkenberg, as part of future planning for success at Ferrari.

However, just going a bit off topic, Sauber are planning to have 18 year old Sergey Sirotkin in one of their race seats next year, if he gains a FIA Super Licence. My personal view on this is that it may be a year or two early for him, although looking at his results, it suggests he may have some talent. What do you think, James?

Also, James, have you seen Sirotkin drive, and does he have the talent to become an Formula 1 World Champion?

17

18 with his level of experience is way too early and other drivers would be concerned.

I’ve not seen him race, so I cannot comment further

18

Can they do something to ensure, or make it very difficult to get his FIA Super Licence, or block his entrance to a race seat? Can the drivers and team owners block his entrance to a F1 race seat?

19

I don’t understand the No1 driver situation – Schumacher & Rubens was a different era, testing,tyres etc.

Alonso has been a clear No1 and hasn’t reaped the rewards. When Massa got the ‘Fernando is faster than you’ message, (if I’m not mistaken?), had Massa won that race he’d have led Alonso in the points table? Surely it’s more beneficial to let your guys race until it’s mathematically impossible for them to win the WDC? What does such a situation do for Massa’s motivation? He arrives at every GP knowing that, bar an Alonso retirement, he would not be given the opportunity to win the race. Even in Australia his strategy was compromised for Alonso, that’s the first race of the season – what does that do to a racer’s motivation?

Better off letting him race and think he’s got a sniff than shackling him from race 1.

Comentators are always saying the first person to beat is your team mate, well Alonso doesn’t need to and Massa isn’t allowed to. The best way to get the best out of the car is to let your team mates push each other, not beyond the limits, but to the limit as per prost/senna, mansell/patrese, hamilton/alonso, kimi/massa, hamilton/button, hamilton/rosberg, vettel/webber – yes possibly a bad example but they do push each other, webber has never been asked to pull over to let vettel by.

It’s the way ferrari go about it that’s the problem. Kimi and Massa were WDC contenders in 2007/2008 when they just raced each other, but with respect. Once one was out of the running he helped the other. They were just as close to wining the WDC in those years (obviously did with Kimi) as they have been with Alonso.

There’s nothing to say that having a No1 driver has helped Alonso or Ferrari be more competitive in recent years. In fact it’s probably made Ferrari less competitive as it’s demoralised Massa.

20

Ferrari let Massa race Fernando, that actually is what they want. But at the midpoint of the championship, Alonso is always miles ahead on points, and has already destroyed his teammate.

In Australia Felipe’s strategy was not compromised. He was asked if he wanted to pit to do the undercut, but he felt it was too early and he feared not being able to make the next set of tires last long enough. So he said no. Instead Fernando took the risk and did pit. But Felipe was asked before as he had preference from having track position. So please do not distort the events.

I challenge anybody to name a single time, during the first half of the championship, when Felipe was not supported by his team if he had track position advantage over Fernando. That has happened on very few occasions, so you can review those races and judge by yourselves.

Then sadly for Ferrari, except 2012, at midpoint of the season Fernando has always been very far from the leader, so both in 2010 and 2013 Ferrari asked Felipe to move over as they are and where in a critical situation. If Felipe had been close to Fernando on points (remember he has not even half his points) that call to move over would have been delayed till the last few races.

So please stop saying Felipe is not allowed to race Fernando. What Ferrari wants above all is to have the best car. This image of a great driver in a bad car of the last few years is not what they want, and is one of the reasons why Montetzemolo is not comfortable at the moment with the situation. By not letting Felipe race as you suggest, is detrimental for them, as they would be favoring this image of one driver miles ahead of the other, hence a bad car but a great driver. If Felipe had been close on points to Fernando these past years, people would think the car was pretty good, and not just a supreme driving putting a car where it does not belong.

So as you see, this theory of Ferrari favoring Fernando right from the start of the year, just for divine right, is rubbish.

21

If I’m Ferrari (or more accurately, Santander) I’d do a slightly different shuffle – swap Alonso for Kimi and paying Lotus for the privilege of sending Fernando back to Enstone. The disharmony that an upset Alonso allegedly causes (if the media reports are to be believed) seems to be very, very costly for PR.

There is no need for Alonso if you have Kimi in the team in terms of results. The Kimi Mk2 who has returned from rallying is now an even better driver. So that caters for the actual F1 side.

And then, Massa is more important to Santander and F1 in general then most here realise – the Brazilian market is immensely lucrative. That’s where the money is.

It won’t happen, but that’s what I’d do! And frankly, provide Lotus sort their finances out, with Fernando’s infamous 6 tenths, they’ll be back with a shout of beating Red Bull 😉

22

Actually I’m pretty sure Fernando, with his “infamous 6 tenths”, would have beaten Red Bull for the 2012 championship in the Lotus car. Not only me, but Jacks Villeneuve and Flavio Briatore think exactly the same, you can check the statements by yourself. Probably if you speak with Grosjean he could tell you the same, as he knows what Fernando can do from their time together at Renault. xD

23

Yes, sure we can trust in Briatore’s impartiality and integrity…

24

I think an Alonso / Raikkonen pairing at Ferrari would be very formidible indeed, although I believe that over a season Alonso would win. From a team point of view, each driver has tracks that they are incredibly strong at which the other isn’t and offers the team a better opportunity at winning more races in the season, for eg Kimi virtually owns Spa while Alonso ironically owns the German GP. Conversely, Alonso has never won at Spa or Raikkonen in Germany.

Ferrari need a driver who can deliver on the occassion Alonso doesn’t and Raikkonen would definitely fit that bill, which Massa clearly hasn’t.

As for comments on Alonso using Massa as his development driver and not doing much simulator work himself, it’s simply not true. It’s been reported that during the YDT, Alonso and De La Rosa were in Maranello working on the simulator to correlate data from the track.

If anything, it could Raikkonens lack of commitment to the entire team package that irks Alonso.

25

Not much different- he had Alonso coming his way in 2010

26

If Massa is booted from Ferrari and then retires…I will definitely miss him.

I wonder how things would have been different had that spring bounced harmlessly away without hitting anyone back in 2009?

27

Massa, can be mega on his day, he just han’t had enough of those days unfortunately.

I’d love to see The Ice-Cream Man back at Ferrari.

Fernando is faster than you.

Leave me alone I know what I’m doing.

28

Any one know when Nico Rosberg’s contract runs out? Martin Brundle said the “Silvers” might be interested in Kimi

29

And when is Wayne Rooney´s contract run out? At this point I wouldn´t be surprise to see people in the media saying that Manchester United is interested in Raikkonen

30

Felipe needs to leave Ferrari to have any chance of salvaging his career. He should have done this at the end of 2010 following the infamous German GP. He’s still fast but mentally crushed after 3 years supporting Alonso.

However I still can’t see Kimi going back to Ferrari and if he does it will end in tears and I also can’t see Ferrari dumping him for Hulkenburg. So unless Felipe walks, I am not sure, despite all the media hype that anything will change. I sincerely hope for Felipe’s sake that it does. He’s a great guy and a beautiful driver, who could thrive in a different environment.

31

Good read. Thanks! James.

I feel sorry for Felipe cause I like him a lot but results matter. Can’t argue with numbers.

Almost everyone here thinks that Kimi would be a threat to Fernando and not Nico H. I disagree. I think Nico H is a bigger threat to Fernando than Kimi.

Nico H is young and the lap times he did in Monza in a Sauber were very impressive. I am starting to like the young guns – Nico H and Daniel. Even Perez and Grosjean are starting to get their act together.

All in all great stuff happening for the sport. However, I miss multiple pit-stops and refueling. Those were the ways to stop someone disappearing stating from pole.

32

Nico is definitely very quick in qualy…bt i doubt his consistency and race craft compared to Kimi…Hulk made pretty clumsy moves in races specially in Brasil 2012…Kimi just seems to be sublime in races…plus even though kimi seems to be slower in qualy compared to his early years, I still doubt whether it is more to do with Lotus’s car characteristics or Kimi’s age

33

I think the reason alonso has been p***ed the last few weeks is because he knows Kimi is going to Ferrari

34

Strangely enough, for all the crap talk that’s going on in the media with the whole Ferrari/Alonso/RBR/Raikkonen/etc. business and whatever else… post-race at Monza, Alonso looked the most at ease I’ve seen him in a long time. Normally he comes out of a race looking like he’s about ready for murder-suicide. At Monza he congratulated Vettel, chatted away with him and Newey, was even smiling. And it looked like a genuine smile (from what I’ve seen Alonso’s not particularly good at faking a smile).

Maybe it was the thousands of diehard Ferrari fans outside screaming for him… but he’d just once again not won a race, once again Vettel had beaten him to it, and the result, unless the remainder of Vettel’s season is utterly disgraceful, pretty much put the nail in the WDC coffin. And for the 4th time running, it’s Vettel/RBR in the way of his 3rd title.

35

“However Raikkonen will not work in the simulator and will not service the team’s sponsors like Massa. Alonso referred to this on Sunday night, obliquely, when he said, “I have great respect for Felipe. He is a great professional; working in the simulator every day, working here in the paddock every day until late.””

This implies that Alonso doesn’t do as much of this work a does Massa, and when Alonso misses the first tests of the season it undermines his assertion that they start each season equally. He’s always the number one from the start, and he has a hissy fit when he’s beaten fairly or when Massa doesn’t compromise his own race to help him. Massa’s lap times suggest he would have finished the race in 2nd position if not for slowing to let Alonso past on lap 8. I don’t understand why they made the switch so early, if they waited until later in the race Massa would have kept third, and three more points for the team. Is Alonso so fragile or volatile mentally that he has to be managed so early in the race, and the team have to lose points to keep him happy?

36

If Alonso got stuck behind Massa it could have taken away any chance of being able to catch Vettel later on. Switching places meant Alonso was the one running in free air at whatever pace he wanted, able to manage the tyres however he wanted (not that tyres were really an issue), etc.

What if they hadn’t switched and then when Red Bull brought in Webber for the undercut he came out ahead of both Ferraris?

37

Hi, James in all fairness Alonso didn’t use strategy toasts Weber, he did it on the track. That’s the difference between the two, Alonso makes things happen

38

Hulk seems to be flavour of the month so I will quote Flavour Flav “Don’t believe the hype”

That is all.

39

Hulkenberg has been impressing people prior to this year. If anything, aside from his fantastic Monza performance, this year has been mostly nothing to rave about. Crap car that he can’t do much with, against a team mate so slow you can’t even begin to make a useful comparison.

When Massa was on the block last year people were saying Perez or Hulkenberg. When Hamilton was rumoured to be leaving McLaren people were talking about Hulkenberg. When Grosjean’s seat was looking questionable at Lotus, people were talking about Hulkenberg.

40

I’m not denying he is good but I completely and utterly fail to see why he is so hyped vs others in the midfield. Having wasted far too much time analysing stats I don’t feel the hype is justified over 1 or two others. A soon to be 4th team in 4 competitive seasons speaks volumes over and above fashionable hype. The short memories evident in all aspects of F1 absolutely astound me.

41

He’s not being booted from teams for being rubbish/average. He was booted from Williams for Maldonado’s $, left Force India for what should have been a better team (having just beaten di Resta), and if he leaves Sauber, it’ll be because a better option is available to him for next year (or he gets booted to make way for the Russian kid and another driver with a bunch of money).

42

Is there more to Raikkonen’s re-hiring by Ferrari than just a balancing act against Alonso ? My feeling is that Alonso will quit the Scuderia if they don’t win the title next year. And Ferrari will have to wait atleast until 2016/17 for Vettel to join them.

In the meantime, they would want to fill the gap for 2015/2016 with a top tier driver. Given Kimi’s is 33 already, he seems like the most natural choice to serve Ferrari for the next 3 years and then retire making way for Vettel.

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