Let’s be honest, Felipe Massa needed to go but that doesn’t mean he’s going to go quietly. The Brazilian “nice guy” is facing down the barrel of a dying career and if he has any chances of wooing potential suitors, he’d better pull a second-half comeback like he did in 2012.
To that point, Massa told Globo TV that he’s driving for himself from here on out and his teammate Fernando Alonso can fend for himself.
“I will not race for Alonso from now on,” Massa told Brazil’s TV Globo.
“Right from Friday at Singapore I’ll be working for myself. I will attack all the time, every lap. It’s come the time to look after myself.”
If Ferrari have any hope of closing the gap between themselves and Red Bull, they’ll need everyone on the team fighting for Alonso, not Massa’s post-Ferrari career. To those ends, team boss Stefano Domenicali took time to explain that the team and everyone on it knows what they must do:
“I don’t think it’s a change of philosophy because I agree with Fernando’s comments about Felipe, in that all drivers who work for Ferrari know that the interests of the team are the priority,” he began. “It’s normal that each driver wants to do the best for himself, because it is in the nature of all drivers to want to beat everyone. That has been the way we have always operated and it will continue like this in the future.”
Changing a driver is not like changing the front wing of a race car, it involves very human emotions and Domenicali admitted that the decision to replace Felipe had been tough. “It was very difficult, from the emotional point of view because I’ve known him since he was a little boy in shorts!” joked Domenicali. “I was 19,” interjected the Brazilian. “We grew up together, spending some intense moments both professionally and personally,” continued the Team Principal. And in this instance, I learned something from him, from the serenity with which he accepted the decision, something which is not so common in this world. Once again, he showed his true qualities as a human being.”
Which philosophy will we see this weekend at Singapore? The “I need a ride so I am driving for myself” theory of Massa’s or the “shut up and support your teammate as we’ve been good to you all these years and Ferrari is the most important thing” notion of Domenicali’s? I suspect we’ll see the Stefano philosophy hold true as Massa, regardless of how well he does for the remaining seven races is a marked man. Other teams know what he’s done and what he’s capable of. No wins, poles or crashes will change his reputation in the paddock. His horse has run and most teams know what Massa would offer their team.
Some teams may find his experience appealing while others will find the last three years performances uninspiring. Giving the middle finger to the team and “driving for myself” is really not going to change much in the terms of a new offer from a team that has a competitive car. Massa’s history has already made many of those decisions for him.