It’s no secret that Felipe Massa is doing badly. Not a single Grand Prix victory to his name since Brazil 2008, The race in which he nearly won the World Championship. And not a single Podium finish since 2010, The inaugural Korean Grand Prix. Massa’s horrific collision at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, which took him out of F1 for the rest of 2009, is the reason pinned to his lacklustre driving. But is it?
Felipe’s bad run began in 2010, And the new season brought a new team-mate, Fernando Alonso. There was much excitement in the paddock. Fernando Alonso, the man who is considered by most to be the best driver on the grid, joining forces with Scuderia Ferrari, one of the most famous team’s in the world.
The season started well for Ferrari with a 1-2 for the team, Alonso the victor ahead of Massa. The season continued on and the two team-mates raced on until the 11th round of the season. The German Grand Prix at Hockenheim was the first obvious display of Ferrari favouring Alonso over Massa. Felipe, In the lead, was on his way to winning the race until Rob Smedley, under instruction from Ferrari bosses, came on the radio with the infamous; “Fernando is faster than you” message. Felipe understood and moved over several laps later, giving Fernando the victory.
Needless to say the FIA took a dim view on this and awarded Ferrari with a smooth €100,000 fine for breaking the rules regarding team orders, which had been banned since the same team ordered Rubens Barrichello to move over for Michael Schumacher.
But the damage was done, The FIA did not award the win to Felipe and he was left to deal with it. And has Ferrari gone back to their Schumacher era style of management? Giving the driver with the best chance of winning the Championship all the new parts? It seems so.
But Ferrari aren’t all to blame. Realistically, Fernando Alonso cannot be the ideal team-mate.
In 2007, McLaren got it wrong, putting two strong-minded men together in the same team, both vying for the No.1 status within the team. This intense rivalry played out in several bitter occasions throughout the season.
In Monaco, Alonso won the Grand Prix, ahead of Hamilton in 2nd. An upset Hamilton moaned to the press believing there to be a conspiracy within the team citing an early pit stop as proof. The FIA however, cleared McLaren of any wrongdoing.
During the US Grand Prix, Hamilton and Alonso were in an intense battle for the victory. Alonso tried to overtake Hamilton up to turn one but Lewis firmly defended his ground, leaving Alonso disgusted and swerving towards the McLaren pitwall a lap later to show his complaint.
The Hungarian Grand Prix was possibly the most prolific fight. During Q3, The team ordered Lewis to move over for Fernando because he was on a fast lap. Lewis failed to do so, prohibiting Alonso. When Alonso pitted with 2 minutes to go, He got his change of tyre’s and proceeded to stay in the pit box, despite his engineers frantically waving him out to allow Lewis in. Alonso left the box at the last second, and the subsequent delay prevented Lewis from setting another lap time. Alonso got pole position.
During the Chinese Grand Prix, Alonso became so angry at the pace of Lewis’ car over his own that he broke a door during a tantrum in the McLaren motor home. He now fully believed there was a plot against him.
In 2008, Fernando partnered Nelson Piquet Jr. at Renault. Alonso was the No.1 driver and during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, Piquet deliberately crashed his Renault, to bring out the Safety Car and accommodate Alonso’s unusual pit strategy. Alonso won the race.
And now Fernando is at Ferrari. I myself used to think that Felipe’s bad run was down to his 2009 crash but now, after consideration, have decided that the reason for Felipe’s bad run is the combination of a No.1 driver and a team with a history of favouritism. Just bad luck.