As usual the FOM race edit revealed some more juicy team radio from the Singapore GP. One wonders why these gems are not broadcast live but that’s food for another post in my seemingly unending series of FOM criticisms. What I’d like to focus on today is the team radio quote which has spilled the most ink. In his efforts to motivate his fledgling driver, Smedley came out with some powerful words, instructing Massa to destroy Hamilton’s race and hold him up as long as he could.
Any conspiracy theories believing Massa was instructed to deliberately cause contact with Lewis are a bit too ridiculous to even entertain imo, and I find it a tad astonishing that most bloggers tend to focus on whether there was true malicious intent or not (which again, you have to be mentally challenged to believe), failing to see the elephant in the room. This bit of radio revealed yet again how Ferrari race strategies revolves around one man and one man only, and we all know that man is not Felipe baby.
Hamilton was obviously faster and as the Mercs and later on the FIs recognized, it’s pointless to fight too hard and lose laptime while defending against a guy who’ll almost inevitably get by no matter what. Skeptics might point to Schumacher in Monza fighting like crazy to keep a faster car behind with success for 30 odd laps- coincidentally Lewis again – but this comparison doesn’t really fly as circumstances were very different. Schumi’s high top speed prevented Hamilton from making any serious challenge as long as the Mercs’ tires held up. In Singapore this was clearly irrelevant when considering the Massa-Hamilton scrap. Some still argue that Massa was instructed to hold up Hamilton for his own benefit, but I find it really far stretched to believe Ferrari though they had a chance against the Mclarens on pure pace, and Lewis would have gotten Massa within a few laps anyway.
The people on the Ferrari pitwall are no idiots, and proof of their realization of their lack of pace is that Smedley added: ‘hold him up as long as you can’. Even Smedley didn’t believe his baby could have held up Hamilton for very long. So why lose lap time defending hard against a guy you realistically know you are not racing to the flag? The answer is simple: you are Fernando’s whipping boy and if you hold Hamilton up long enough, you may give Alonso a chance to finish ahead. That it compromises your race is of no importance to the team.
Remember how disappointing it was for the team when Massa qualified 4th and Alonso 8th in Spa? Remember the countless times this season Massa was forced to stay out on track with worn tires to keep the window open should sir Nando decide to come in? Remember Hockenheim? Alonso is a better driver than Massa, no question about that, but must they really continually compromise his races to give Alonso a better chance? Does Ferrari still not realize that to challenge for the WDC you need two strong drivers and give them roughly equal chances (granted, a little favoritism is to be expected and beneficial for a team with a driver having a better chance at the WDC than his teammate, but not at the levels Ferrari takes it to).
As most of you know I am not fan of Massa at all and believe he is hogging a Ferrari seat he no longer deserves, but you can’t help but pity the guy and think getting booted out of Ferrari may be the best thing that could happen to him in his career. Being the established no1 driver in a midfield team might just breathe fresh air into him and revive the Massa of 2008. Felipe should really just give Ferrari the finger instead of waiting for the inevitable as they dump him for 2013. It shows the lack of confidence and ambition within Felipe, as he propably does not see much place for him in F1 besides Ferrari, but the world is for the takers!
This is probably the first ever f1 blog post from Nigeria and interwebz issues here are sort of interfering with the day to day running of this blog and podcast but never fear: expect the official backmarkersf1 alternate wdc standings on the blog soon. we’re working on it 😉