The one beautiful thing (or worst thing ever, I guess, depending on your point of view) about the Hungarian Grand Prix coming just days after the German race is that the two drivers involved in the team order incident can’t stay out of the public/media eye any longer.
I mean, just imagine if we’d had a two-week break between races. Or if the whole thing had happened before the summer shut down.
Well, we’re in luck. Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso are in Hungary and they are having to answer the questions you’d expect them to be asked.
“The time I say I am number two driver, I will not race any more,” he insisted.
When asked what would happen if he was faced with the same situation this weekend, Massa replied: “I will win.”
He said he had received assurances from Ferrari that he was still allowed to fight for victories for himself.
“For sure I have spoken to everybody inside the team,” said Massa. “As I said I am not here really to race, I am here to win. That is really my point. As long as I am in the condition to win, we need to go to the end, to fight for the victory.
“I am a professional, I work for the team and everybody has to understand my point.”
Anyone want to insert a “Hey, Giancarlo, we know you just had a kid, but you’re needed in Hungary” joke?
“Of course it doesn’t affect me. Not at all,” Alonso told Spanish journalists in Hungary. “If we lost one per cent of our concentration in everything they say we’d be lost.
“Not only because of Germany, but because there’s always a small anecdote in every race. One time is the crash between the Red Bulls in Turkey, another time is the overtaking in the pitlane between Massa and me.
“There’s always something to talk about next week so we can’t pay too much attention.”
He added: “There are many opinions and many things have been said in the last couple of days.
“The only important thing for us is that the car is competitive and we can do well here in Hungary as well. But the opinion of everybody, some of the drivers or team principals, it is their opinion and we respect everything, but we concentrate on our job.”
“There is nothing to say right now. That is your opinion – what you think about the fans. For sure some of them are unhappy with some races and not only in Germany, there were some more races this year, and some of them they don’t care.
“I arrive today in Hungary, the airport was full, the hotel was full of people cheering for us, and that is the fans I saw today so far. Maybe I see some others that you mention now, but at the moment I only saw those ones.”
Well, actually, I guess there’s one question everyone wants to ask Felipe — the No. 2. deal — and a few more questions for Alonso:
The Spaniard echoed Massa’s comments from earlier, when the Brazilian said he was not a number two driver.
“I think there is not a number one or number two driver. I think it is more about respect of each other, respect of racing for the Scuderia â€“ which means a lot,” he said.
“I think we are happy with the performance of the car in the last couple of races and in Germany finally there was the point we arrived with both cars at the chequered flag without problems and we scored points.
I wonder from this answer if we aren’t all overstating things by so forcefully defining the “No. 1 and No. 2” drivers. There is no way there will ever be two equal drivers at a team — although in some ways Red Bull is getting close, in my opinion — but maybe it is more a matter of one of the drivers just being better.
I’d suspect most of us would agree Alonso’s better, or at least is better this year.
And then there’s this:
The Spanish driver said he didn’t believe his reputation had been affected by the events.
“That is your opinion, and you have one opinion, that is very respectful, but I don’t think anything changed to me or anything happened back to me,” he said.
“I am still the same and I will fight always for the best things possible, for my team, for the sport and hopefully I can do well always in my career.”
That’s the most emotion part of this whole deal, I think: the love/hate of Alonso. And like most, almost all, successful people, it sounds like he doesn’t really care much what others think.
Thus, the “Whatever” headline.
So… reactions? Is there any possibility I’m on to something on the better driver versus No. 1 driver angle. Massa can think of himself as on equal standing in the team even if he’s not performing as well — and it could change next year if the car suits him better or any other number of factors.
Or is he just lying to himself and the public?
I’ll go on record and say there’s nothing more I want out of this weekend’s grand prix than for Massa to win. Would be great for him, for the sport, for his history here and, I think, to keep the championship battles extremely interesting.