Strong virtual show of support for Massa from Ferrari is pretty unusual

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Ferrari has posted what to my eyes seems like a fairly unusual “day with” piece featuring Felipe Massa, who I think it is fair to describe as “embattled” at this point in the 2012 Formula 1 season.

I’ve been watching Ferrari’s website and PR machine pretty closely for four years now, and I don’t recall a post quite like this one. I’ll take it as a sign of support for Massa — although one that comes with high praise for Fernando Alonso.

At least that praise comes from Massa, though. And the whole post comes with a touch of the attitude that defined the Horse Whisperer posts of yore. Here’s the opening:

Angry could be a polite way of describing Felipe Massa’s mood, on a day spent in Maranello to work in the simulator and to attend meetings with his engineers. Five days on from the Spanish Grand Prix, the Brazilian is still annoyed about the outcome of a race that could definitely have ended differently, but for the penalty imposed shortly before half-distance and, maybe if it had not been for the traffic that penalised him in Q2 on Saturday afternoon.

[snip]

“Yes I am bloody p***ed off,” snaps Felipe. “Even today, I still struggle to understand the reason for the drive-through and that was the point at which my race was ruined.”

I’m glad to see Massa is upset, but the problem has been so far this year that he has directed his anger or other emotions to success on the track. At some point, he has to manufacture his own good luck.

That’s possible to do, by the way. Need proof? Here it is: Alonso. And Massa has noticed: “I think we must also take into account that, at the moment, Fernando’s driving is amazing: he is on super form, maybe even perfect.”

That’s an important quote, because he also says: “I think that this year, the only race where there really was a big difference between me and Fernando was in Australia and then, in Malaysia the rain made it more complicated to get a clear picture. Starting in China, the difference in qualifying between the two of us was not so dramatic. Even in Barcelona, but for the traffic, my time in Q2 was in line with previous events and on Sunday my pace was not that far off.”

I’m assuming there might be some folk who would argue with Massa’s assessment.

Here’s where this Ferrari piece gets really interesting, though. It cuts right to the chase. I’ll give it to you full:

It’s a difficult question, but equally, it’s one that, one way or another, needs to be asked. Has there ever been the doubt in your mind that you are no longer as quick since the accident in Budapest? 
“I have asked myself that forty five thousand times and don’t think I haven’t and why wouldn’t I: having won so much over three years, eleven races, the question is obvious. And it’s not as though I only stuck to asking myself: I went looking for the answer, asking a whole host of questions and undergoing as many medical examinations. All the doctors I consulted are prepared to swear hand on heart that there are absolutely no traces of the impact with the spring. As for myself, I don’t feel in any way different to the way I was before that weekend. For example, if it was true that I no longer had the same will to win as before or the same courage, then how can one explain the fact that, at the race start, I am probably still one of the best drivers and I am not the sort to hold back when it comes to overtaking?”

That’s about as clear as you get in F1.

The piece also talks about the multiple winners this season, the difficulty of the Ferrari to drive this season, tires and Monaco (terrific moment, near the end, is the use of the word “Monegasque”). I think it’s a must-read.

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