Why Felipe Should give Ferrari the Finger

Posted: October 4, 2011 by thevillainf1 in Insights

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 😉

  1. Kiel says:

    At least you have the common sense to believe there was no malicious intent involved. Unilke the idiots on the Yahoo. Eurosport forums…..I do feel sorry for felipe baby but sometimes he doesn’t help himself ie his reaction after the race

  2. JourneyTH says:

    “(which again, you have to be mentally challenged to believe)”


    Still, that “destroy” thing was blown WAY out of proportion. Yeah, Massa was holding Hamilton up for Alonso. Yeah, that’s what Ferrari does. No, there was no brake testing or malicious intent from Felipe in that turn of any sort.

    If you want to be angry at somebody, Internet, pro tip: that somebody shouldn’t be Felipe Massa or Rob Smedley.

  3. Raj says:

    well said journeyth

  4. Gareth says:

    Ferrari just seem to have warped minds when it comes to strategy / managing drivers etc. They will never win another Constructors title until they give both drivers’ a chance, and that probably won’t happen whilts Alonso is still there.

    I would love to see a really ballsy driver get signed up and shake things up there, but I won’t hold my breath for that!

  5. Im still wondering what would happen if Massa would unexpectedly win the first 2 races of 2012.
    Would Ferrari refuse to pit him, or not give him tires, so that Nando can be No. 1 again??
    Oh.. And of course they would call that a disappointing result!
    Massa should really get out of there. He’s broke and he doesn’t look like he has too much fun racing at the moment. He could do wonders in a midfield team. And maybe he’ll shine again somehow. I really feel sorry for the guy for how he’s treated at the moment.

  6. Totally agree with the article. Felipe is not my favourite out there, but nobody deserves to be treated like that. I think he should swap seats with Perez — after all, he has driven for Sauber before…

  7. JMD says:

    Taking the title as the main message of the blog …. I gotta disagree …

    In terms of the tabloid type reporting …. that’s just drumming up paper sales and those not able to see the wood from the trees in the story are hardly of much risk to the sport or the drivers. Maybe it’s the presentations of pristine garages in F1 that fool people into thinking it’s a clean, nice relaxed environment and not a dog eat dog one! LOL

    Steve, your blog seems to ignore the critical point, that being, Massa is there to perform a job in a team that has for a long time run a very clear #1 or #nothing driver setup. Massa is merely the latest in a lengthening list of drivers. Even in the Prost, Mansell days, there was a clear #1 and #2 and some questionable goings on to boot. The #2 pulls a salary and has a defined boundary within the team in terms of expectations etc.

    Without going further back that I can remember well, take Irvine for example, who commented something along the lines of “It’s better to be a #2 at Ferrari than a #1 in another team” or words to that effect, by way of defense that we was never going to be the #1 there. Eddie was one who knew which side his bread was buttered on. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him comment any dis-satisfaction with his role unlike this successor. He was employed on the terms of his contract. The conspiracy theorists claim Irvine was robbed of his WDC because Ferrari did not want a designated #2 to break the duck! LOL!

    Rubens was next in line during those dominant MSC years and we can all remember some of the highs and lows. Austria in 2002 anyone? The point is that Rubens was brought in to play a team role also and to fully support the team strategy. Rubens knew this and generally played his part well but I think some of the ‘incidents’ were probably too much in the end and he parted company to charge his own path. We’ll have to ask next time we meet him eh? Ferrari had eyes on a younger talent for their #2. The cycle is repeating unsurprisingly.

    Massa followed and with MSC as the #1 there was hardly any question to ask who #2 would be. With MSC retiring, Kimi was brought in and quickly established himself as the #1. Whether he really was brought in as the #1 is questionable at the time though my take is that he was. Less questionable is that Massa was there as the #2.

    Now Alonso is #1 and again being a double WC, there was never going to be any question.

    So, Massa flipping the finger is kinda a little too late I would suggest. Massa has accepted, albeit, not enjoyed every experience, being a Ferrari #2 driver. Ferrari clearly showed a certain sense of family when they effectively protected Massa potential to return following his accident. But that was as much about business as any other decision as you’ll agree surely.

    For Massa to depart Ferrari and not finish out his contract and take full opportunity of 2012’s races to improve is grid status would be foolhardy and premature. He’s got some nice salary to pick up and unless Ferrari wish to buy out his contract, he has little incentive outside of Ferrari to choose to leave early.

    So I disagree, Massa should certainly not flip his finger at Ferrari for no other reason than he will not have a better opportunity to improve is F1 grid share price in any other car in 2012.

  8. thevillainf1 says:

    What good will it do to Massa to stay another year and get his races compromised by Ferrari strategy so at the end of the road he’s a year older and has 3 crap seasons behind him? I’m also not convinced Massa ever really accepted a no2 role, but was bullied into it. Fernando IS faster than Felipe, no question about it, so he will never consistently beat him. He’s lost all support in the team, is a bit of a joke to the fans and the paddock. To me the only way to redeem himself is to beat Alonso…which will never happen, OR go to a new team, put in some impressive performances racing his own races, beating a teammate regularly and with that comes confidence; and we’ve seen with Vettel what confidence does to a driver. That said, there’s not many seats available, so if he does make a move, he should start secretly sending out feelers right now. Leaving now would show confidence, drive and ambition, leaving next year as Ferrari doesn’t renew his contract puts him in an even weaker position.

  9. JMD says:

    You said it “…. there’s not many seats available ….” and there are none that offer him high points scoring positions that Ferrari will offer.

    He’s the lap dog #2 there for sure, but Ferrari need both drivers to score WCC points and whilst there’s plenty of ammunition to support the mindset that Ferrari only cares about Alonso, it’s too far for me to go to say they’ll completely sabotage Massa’s every race.

    Sure, there will be races when Massa will be ordered to yield …. but there’s be plenty of races where Massa can show his talent too ….

    I get what you’re talking about ….. but if I was Massa, I’d live out my contract. My stock value is not going to go down ‘cos I stayed at Ferrari and lived up to the obligations of my contract!!!

    Besides, Massa is not longer the driver he was in my opinion so he’s is the best position he can expect for 2012 season.

    Sorry to the Massa fans for saying this but that’s what I think.

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