Felipe Massa has been forced to backtrack on comments made about Fernando Alonso after claiming his future Ferrari team-mate knew all along about the Singapore race-fixing scandal.
It is hardly an auspicious start ahead of their relationship, with Alonso recently signing a three-year deal from 2010 with Ferrari, replacing the departing Kimi Raikkonen.
In a briefing with Brazilian media, Massa was clear in his remarks that Alonso was aware of the plot that culminated in Nelson Piquet Jnr deliberately crashing his Renault in last year's Singapore Grand Prix, helping the Spaniard to claim a remarkable victory.
“It was the team and Nelson, but Alonso was part of the problem,” Massa is quoted as saying.
“He knew. We cannot know it, but of course he knew. Absolute certainty.”
Alonso has long maintained he was completely unaware of any plan and was cleared by the FIA, who handed Renault a suspended two-year lifetime ban from Formula One following a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council.
The incident resulted in Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds resigning from their positions as team principal and executive director of engineering respectively.
In return for his testimony, Piquet Jnr was granted immunity from prosecution.
Massa's comments, however, naturally sparked a storm in his native Brazil ahead of Sunday's grand prix at Interlagos where he will wave the chequered flag.
Within hours Massa attempted to play down and clarify his words via a statement on Ferrari's website, although he could not deny he has suspicions.
“What I've said is the outcome of a hunch I've had and is not based on any concrete evidence,” said Massa, who has previously stated he would have been world champion but for the crash.
“The FIA World Council announced that there was no indication that Fernando may have been informed of what had happened and I respect this outcome.
“Obviously I'm very disappointed about what transpired last year in Singapore.
“I have already said several times what I thought about it and now it's time to close that chapter and to look to the future.
“What is certain is that this episode will not mar in any way the relationship I'll have with Fernando when we will be team-mates.”