Felipe Massa’s tenure at Ferrari overlapped with Fernando Alonso’s for four seasons, a period in which the Spanish driver emerged as the stronger force within the team, despite Massa having been established at Ferrari for some years prior.
Their partnership, which lasted from 2010 to 2013, was marked by Alonso’s consistent top finishes, while Massa often found himself several notches down the pecking order.
The dynamics of the Ferrari duo
Massa’s reflections on that time reveal a mixture of respect and frustration. He acknowledges Alonso’s driving ability, but also hints at a certain rift within the team.
“It felt different with Fernando than it did with Michael Schumacher,” recalls Massa. The Brazilian wanted to learn from Schumacher, but with Alonso it was a competition – a battle to be the best within the team.
Alonso’s influence and division within the team
Massa doesn’t mince his words about Alonso’s considerable influence within Ferrari, suggesting that Alonso’s actions, whether intentional or not, led to a split within the team.
“I actually always got along well with Fernando as a person. But what he told me wasn’t the same as what he told the team,”
“He had a lot of power and he tried to use it to get everyone on his side,” says Massa, pointing out that while he got along with Alonso personally, the two-time world champion’s internal communications sometimes sowed discord.
“But that’s just the way he was and I think the only problem is that it wasn’t good for the team.”
The fight for equality
Despite his efforts to remain competitive and contribute to the team, Massa felt sidelined, especially in light of Alonso’s alleged preferential treatment.
“I don’t want to say it wasn’t fair… but the way they worked and the way they looked after him meant it wasn’t very pleasant for me,” admits Massa, highlighting the mental toll such dynamics can take on a driver perceived as second best.
The simulator work controversy
Massa recounts a particularly telling episode that sums up his experience. He talks about intense simulator work, aimed at catching up with rivals such as Red Bull Racing and McLaren. But midway through the season, Alonso allegedly abandoned the simulator, claiming it wasn’t beneficial, only to go on to win the Singapore Grand Prix shortly afterwards.
Massa describes the frustration of hearing then-Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo publicly praise Alonso’s work ethic, which seemed at odds with his own observations and contributions.
Massa’s mental battle
The Brazilian’s account of those years is laced with a sense of what might have been – a career that could have reached different heights had the team dynamic been more supportive. Massa’s story is a candid insight into the psychological battles that take place off the track, battles that can define or derail a driver’s career as much as their performance on race day.
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