Although he has moved to Williams, Massa is one of the few drivers who still remains a firm favourite with the Tifosi Ferrari fans. He is great at building relationships both on-track and with the fans and he will always do his best with little complaint. No wonder Rob Smedley followed him to Williams, a move which seems to have paid off for both so far.
So, what’s he like?
He is down-to-earth. I mean, he is in close proximity to the ground. At just 5ft 5” the Brazilian is the shortest driver on the grid, which can be a massive advantage as it means you fit easier into the chassis and usually weigh less, which allows for better weight distribution of the car. He is also a nice and relaxed guy, much like the tallest driver on the grid, Nico Hulkenberg.
He is the only Brazilian on the grid. You might be asking yourself why on earth I think that is an important fact, as there are many un-represented nations. But Brazil has a strong place in the F1 history, not only because of Ayrton Senna’s special standing in the sport, but because of the exciting and unpredictable races seen in Interlagos, which has been the final race circuit on the calendar in several seasons and is generally considered one of the “classics”.
Alonso is faster than him. Well, at least we was in a certain 2010 race, which saw Ferrari issue a thinly veiled team order for Massa to let a struggling Alonso overtake him. At his point in the sport, team orders were not allowed and the pleasure of the move cost them a £100,000 fine. This isn’t the only time where Massa has sacrificed his own chances to facilitate Alonso, for instance he spent all of qualifying in Monza 2013 trying to drag Alonso around in his slipstream.
He had a pretty bad accident. Thankfully, the safety of F1 has improved greatly over the past decades and serious accidents have become more rare. Massa’s accident in Hungary 2009 sent a spring from another car at Massa and hit his helmet. He then went on into the tyre barrier at high speed before the car finally came to a stop. Despite his life-threatening injuries Massa made a good recovery and after having a titanium plate fitted to his skull to strengthen it for racing, he re-joined the grid with Ferrari the following year. We can only hope that Jules Bianchi will be able to make a similar recovery from his accident. #ForzaJules
He was world champion for 30 seconds in 2008. While Lewis Hamilton won the 2008 F1 World Championship in Interlagos, some would claim that it was Massa’s to lose. Massa won the race by 38.9 seconds over Hamilton and was celebrating his victory until Hamilton managed a surprise move on Timo Glock in the very last corner, scraping through to win 1 point more than Massa. While Britons were celebrating I think it’s safe to say the Brazilian fans have rarely been quite so gutted. Massa himself took the defeat graciously and congratulated Hamilton and McLaren like a true sportsman.