Somehow I have no doubts about Felipe Massa’s loyalty to the Ferrari cause, and I believe that he is genuinely happy that Ferrari driver has won the title again. That does not however mean, that he was happy, to have to sacrifice the chance for his second win at his home race. There is no guarantee he will in Brazilian GP again in the future. Look at Rubens Barrichello, no matter how hard he tried in a very competitive Ferrari, he never made it …
Ferrari claims, that they announced the new contract extension with Massa in order to silence the Alonso to Ferrari rumours. This sound like solid explanation, but I wonder if there was more to it. He was very vocal about his target for Brazil – he wanted to win to race. This is what he said just few days before his new contract announcement:
“At Interlagos, I will be trying to win the race,” Massa confirmed. “For sure, Kimi still has a chance of winning the championship, even if it is a small one and it will be difficult. My personal target is victory, but if we see any possibility of helping the team to win the driver’s title, then of course I will be doing what I can. But this is not the way to approach the race weekend.”
“The best way to approach it is to do what I have done at every race which is to think in terms of winning the race. If the miracle happens and maybe both McLarens are nowhere, then me and Kimi could finish first and second respectively and still give Ferrari the result it wants. There are so many possible permutations of what could happen that it is not worth thinking about all of them now. Of course the team will have done the maths for every possible situation.”
Three days later, the new contract announcement came up. I wonder if the timing was not aimed also at Felipe Massa to assure him, that he has a future with the team and to avoid some uncertainty about what would he do in Brazil in case the miracles he mentioned earlier happen …. At the end, no matter how you feel for the team, it is not exactly easy to let somebody else to win your home race…
This he said before the race, after his new contract was announced:
“For sure I would be happy to see my team winning the championship but it’s not a very easy race and I think it also depends on what happens in the race. It also depends on Kimi’s chances of winning the championship, it also depends how these two guys in front are going to do in the race as well, so it depends on many things but for sure, I’m going to start the weekend and my aim is to try to win the race.”
Not too different from what he said earlier, but nothing really threatening to the team in this statement. It looks like Ferrari team was very comfortable with Massa approach for the final race. The pole position for him might have been result of lighter fuel load to allow him to outqualify Kimi and claim and have his glory time on Saturday as a pole setter. This might have been a gift from the team in case a help from Massa is needed during the race.
We know how the race went and we know how the change of the lead between Massa and Kimi happened. Perfect team work without too many signs of dissent from Massa.
This is what Massa said after the race:
Today is a great day for the team and for Kimi, who has won the Drivers’ title. Of course I would have liked to have won my home race again this year, but I am happy to have helped my team-mate, who was the only one of us still in with a chance of taking the title. I am proud to have done it for Ferrari who believed in me even when I was not in Formula 1. It is thanks to the people in Maranello that I am here and it is with them that I have grown as a driver and as a man.
So, do I think he is happy for the team and for Kimi ? Definitelly yes, if he could not win the title himself, this is the next best thing that could happen and everybody in Ferrari has to acknowledge the huge part Felipe played in the game. But was he happy to have to sacrifice his home race to achieve that ? I doubt so. But he did what he had to and did not do much fuss about it. And that is one of the reasons why I actually think quite highly about Felipe Massa.
But as mentioned over at F1Fanatic Massa allegedly told Brazilian television that he was instructed to let team mate Kimi Raikkonen past.
Not a groundbreaking revelation we could all see the race on TV… But nevertheless not exactly smart remark from Massa. Remember Monaco and investigation into McLaren team orders after Hamilton could not keep his mouth shut. He should be careful with his words. Not really what he says, but how. I think F1 does not need another controversy surrounding the title and the final race.