Former team boss Eddie Jordan reckons Hamilton will have to watch his back in Brazil, while Massa insists he is focussed only on winning.
Michael Schumacher’s appetite for controversy and carbon-fibre has never really rubbed off on his protÃ©gÃ© Felipe Massa. That was until the Japanese Grand Prix in Fuji that is.
Massa’s reckless collision with Lewis Hamilton in the opening laps for which he was penalised, but let off the hook by virtue of identical punishment for his victim may not have been intentional, but it certainly planted the seed about the Brazilian’s respect for clean racing.
Such was the success of the move that it may have even been an eye-opener for Massa: it ultimately enabled him to close the gap to Hamilton in a race he had no hope of winning.
Indeed, with a seven point deficit to Hamilton going into Brazil, Massa will be hard pressed to appease his home crowd with the title he and they crave.
Will the Ferrari ace succumb to temptation should he find his Bridgestone rubber in kissing distance of Hamilton’s suspension? Team principal turned pundit Eddie Jordan thinks so; retaliation the Irishman’s prescription.
“People may not like me for saying this, but if Massa tries to take him out as he did in Japan in order to steal the title then Lewis has to be ready for it,” he told the Daily Express.
“If he tries that on then Lewis has to turn his wheel into Massa to ensure he does not finish the race either – he has to take his wheel off.”
“Hamilton needs to be careful. He knows that right now the world is against him – the other drivers are against him and the stewards are against him.
“Yet I think what happened to him after his win at Spa was ghastly and his penalty in the Japanese Grand Prix was harsh too. That’s what he has to contend with.”
To his defence, there is something unconvincing about the picture painted of Massa as an underhanded racer. He says he is intent only on winning the race in front his home crowd.
“Yes it’s true I have a tougher job than Lewis in terms of the points situation, but my own objective for the weekend is much more straightforward than his,” said the Ferrari driver.
“I only have to focus on winning the race on Sunday afternoon, hopefully with my team mate second behind me. The only thing I am thinking about is winning. After that, the matter is not in my hands and we will have to wait and see exactly what and how much we have won.
“For sure, Lewis will try and put pressure on me, but I have zero pressure, because I have nothing to lose.
“I have my people behind me and all the pressure will be on him, especially when you think about what happened at this race last year. I can’t wait for the final Sunday of the season.”
Kimi Raikkonen is Massa’s best asset in Brazil. Should the Finn come second to Massa – a real possibility given Ferrari’s dominance at Interlagos – then that would put pressure on Hamilton to keep a clean nose and bring home the points. And don’t rule out Alonso taking things into his own hands either.
Just how willing Raikkonen is to have a world champion alongside him in the garage next year is another matter.
“It is a team sport and both me and Kimi know we have to do what is best for the team,” upholds Massa. “For sure, psychologically a racing driver always wants to finish in front, always wants to win: it doesn’t matter if you are playing a friend on a computer game or driving a Formula One car.”
“But all drivers have a contract with their team and so you are not racing as an individual.”
“When you are fighting for the championship, with only one driver with a mathematical chance of winning, then all the teams in the pit lane would do the same, which is to put that one driver in a position where he has the best chance of winning. That is part of this sport.”