The Brazilian racing community breathed a collective sigh of relief this week, as the news spread that Felipe Massa’s Ferrari contract had been renewed. To say this was expected would be somewhat off the mark, I doubt many people at home or in the paddock would have thought Felipe would be driving a Ferrari in 2013, but there he will be.
The contract was the sweetener. It will now be Felipe’s job to be Fernando Alonso’s bitch for the next four races, how willing do you suppose the Brazilian would have been to do that if he was out of F1 at the end of the season? They must think we’re stupid – or at least Felipe is.
The first port of call? Drafting. Using another cars slipstream to pull yours down a straight, allowing you to find extra speed when you finally peek out and throw the nose into the corner. We’ve seen them do it before, Felipe sacrificing his own qualifying laps to drag an extra couple of thousanths out of Fernando’s, and it didn’t work… again. Today Fernando starts in fifth with his team-mate beside him, which can only mean that Felipe is incredibly fast or Fernando has lost control of that prancing pony. The purpose of this tactic is obvious, but the fact it hasn’t worked at all makes me wonder if Fernando has enough to take it to Sebastian, and Felipe can’t hold his hand all the way through.
I feel for Felipe, he’s a racer at heart and I wonder if the only reason he’s agreed to stay at Ferrari is because without them he wouldn’t be in Formula One at all. Is it the lesser of the evils? To be the epitome of the number two driver, meek and eager to assist, handing over potential wins to a team-mate who isn’t faster on that occasion? It seems to be a Brazilian’s fate at Ferrari, Barrichello’s tears are still as fresh in my mind as they were the day they were shed.
Felipe’s future won’t be an unexpected disappointment, he will know his role now and with have agreed to it when he signed the contract.
I hope it won’t make him bitter.