Yas Island, 31 October – A ritual that has taken place now for many years is slowing approaching a finale, as Felipe Massa took part in his usual Thursday meeting with the F1 media in the Scuderia Ferrari hospitality. And it followed the usual pattern: questions about the last and current race, rumours about the future, a look back at the past and laughter to end the show. “We had a good race in India and I hope we can have another good one here in Abu Dhabi,” began the Brazilian. “But it’s too early to say until we see how our cars and the others go here, not really Red Bull, but particularly Mercedes and Lotus, as it won’t be an easy fight with these two, who have a quicker car. But we are not giving up and to finish second would be fantastic.
I am pretty confident we can be competitive here and fight for the podium and I feel there is a chance we can make it to the podium in one of the three races left. But, we recognise we don’t have a quick enough car to guarantee that, so we need to do everything perfectly, from a perfect lap in qualifying to a perfect strategy and perfect pace in the race. And, at the moment, I feel we can put together a perfect performance if we work hard.”
Felipe refused to comment directly on the rumours regarding which team he might drive for next year, but admitting that the top teams were all spoken for, he added: “The fact that next year sees the biggest change in rules means that anything can happen and that gives me more motivation about going to a team that is not winning now. It’s not impossible that it could be competitive next year.”
Asked about the role played by drivers who buy their seats in F1 by bringing in big sponsors, the Ferrari man had clear views on the topic. “In Formula 1 I always operated as a professional driver, paid to race and I never brought money to pay for my drive and that is something that will not change now,” he said. Bringing a sponsor has never been part of my career. It doesn’t mean I can’t help the team to find a sponsor, but not as a condition for my getting the drive. The pay-driver scenario is a big worry for Formula 1. Formula 1 is a top world sport up against other sports at this level. It’s a shame to imagine a young driver who has the talent, the ability to be in F1 and maybe be world champion but not get a chance to race. Or that a driver already in F1 can lose his place to another with a lot less talent but he has the money. But it’s been like that for a while now.” He also felt that his country need to be represented on the grid. “It’s very important for Brazil to have a driver, a successful driver in Formula 1. Now, I’m the only one and I still don’t have a contract for next year. If I’m not racing next year, or if there is no other Brazilian on the grid, it would be a big loss for the country.”
And finally, would he encourage his young son to one day be a Grand Prix driver? “I won’t push my son to be a racing driver, all the decision must come from him. It’s better if he does football, I can go to the stadium to watch him and eat French Fries. Much better than all this noise!”