Tuesday, 21st April 1981, Felipe Massa was born in Sao Paulo. By the time he was 8 years old he was a keen karter and came fourth in his first championship. When they were not karting he and his friends loved to spectate at the interlagos circuit, especially when his heroes Ayrton and Nelson were there. Now, just thirty and a half years since he was born here, it is he who is the hero of thousands of young and old Paulistas whose enthusiastic support will be worth at least twenty horsepower on Sunday.
This is the last race of a pretty rubbish year for Felipe, but it is very important to him. It marks ten years in formula 1, but even more significant, it is his one hundredth race for the Scuderia. Having won here twice already (2006 and 2008) Felipe knows he can do it. He approaches the weekend with the confidence that comes from playing in his own back yard. On Tuesday he organised a kart race for many local journalists to compete against him and then on Wednesday he visited a local specialist children's hospital where he brought joy to many of the young patients and their carers. Afterwards he said “It was a moving experience for me; seeing how these children deal with their suffering is yet another reminder of what life is really about....”
Thursday 24th. Felipe received a special letter from Luca de Montezemolo, congratulating him on his one hundred F1 races for Ferrari. To further mark the occasion Felipe has commissioned a special helmet designed by Jens Munser, and featuring a chrome and gold prancing horse, on which are mounted a further one hundred small horses, one for each race.
Friday 25th. The day for open practice and Felipe worked hard putting in seventy-three laps. Times were slower than 2010. Felipe thought maybe the Pirellis are harder than last years Bridgestones. At the end of the two sessions Felipe was sixth fastest. The level of competition can be judged by the fact that Lewis who was fastest was only 0.358 seconds faster with four others in between.
Saturday 26th. Qualifying. Final free practice. The pace picks up with times almost a second quicker than yesterday. Felipe spent most of his time on medium tyres and did some practice starts. Towards the end of the session he switched to soft tyres and then got caught in traffic, so at the end of the session he was only tenth fastest. Mostly he was preparing for the qualifying session that starts after lunch. Qualifying was a disappointment with the car prone to locking its front wheels, understeering and lacking traction. As a result Felipe opted to use two sets of soft tyres in Q2 which then compromised his position in Q3 as it was then only possible to do one run. Felipe was not happy with his seventh place, the only consolation being that it put him on the clean side of the track. But the day was not over and worse was to come later when a technician discovered a puncture in one of the soft tyres used for practice. This meant that the whole set could not be used and as a result they had to opt for the (theoretically) slower two stop strategy.
Sunday 27th. The Race
After the race Lewis went over and had a big hug with Massa. After all the problems between them on track this year it was a great gesture and much appreciated by Felipe.
So, it doesn’t matter how much you want, need, should, and deserve to win, in motor racing anything can happen. Felipe has already enlisted the help of Felipinho to help him draft a special letter to Father Christmas to ask for a fantastic car for next year.
After the race Pat Fry said “I have to say Fernando has had an incredible 2011, if you just think how often he managed to finish in the top three. Now it’s up to us to give him and Felipe a much more competitive car than this one. That is our aim, which we have been thinking about day and night and on which we are pushing as hard as we can. I want to congratulate the entire team for the way they have worked at the track this year. We have made significant steps forward and we must continue down this route for next year. We can expect some busy months ahead when there will be plenty of opportunities to improve still further.”
Sounds like Father Christmas has some strong backing. Let's all cross our fingers.
Click here for FIA lap chart.
Stefano Domenicali:“We had hoped and wanted to end the season with at least one more podium finish, even if we knew it would be very difficult given the quality of opponent we had ahead of us after qualifying. Fernando came close to achieving our wish, fighting to the bitter end, but he had to settle for looking up at the podium, which along with Webber’s win, means he won’t be off to India to take part in the FIA Gala for the top three finishers in the Drivers’ Championship. We congratulate those who did a better job than us and we look forward to facing them again next year, when we will try to be the best of the lot.