Formula One: Fernando Alonso hoping Massa can home in on glory
Fernando Alonso revealed yesterday he would love nothing more than to see Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa win Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix in front of his own fans.
Ferrari's fight for the Formula One world title has been overshadowed by events at the German Grand Prix in July, when on the back of coded team orders Massa eased aside to allow Alonso through for the win.
Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner revisited the issue this week when he stated a third title triumph for Alonso “would be frustrating because we've obviously worked under the auspices that team orders have been illegal”.
With Alonso standing on the brink of another drivers' title, leading the standings by 11 points from Red Bull's Mark Webber, it is evident rancour still exists in certain quarters.
The question is, however, in front of a passionate Brazilian crowd, will Alonso expect Massa to repeat what he did at Hockenheim? It is a situation that could easily arise, with Massa qualifying on pole for the last three grands prix at Interlagos.
“Felipe is normally very strong here,” said Alonso, when asked if he expected Massa to be his willing accomplice.
“I think the best thing for us, for me in the championship, for the numbers, is to have Felipe winning the race because he takes 25 points from everybody else.
“This year, from first to second, there is the biggest difference in points — seven, but from second to third, third to fourth, there are very small differences which may allow me to keep the advantage I have. So the worry for me is the 25 points, if one of the other drivers takes those points.
“Hopefully Felipe can win both races (Brazil and Abu Dhabi). It will be the best thing for me.”
In terms of attempting to win over a passionate public almost certain to jeer the Spaniard this weekend, it was a master stroke in damage limitation from Alonso.
As for Massa, there is a natural desire to win in front of his own fans. Asked if he would cede to Alonso on Sunday should the possibility arise, Massa replied: “I did it already, in 2007.”
He allowed then team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to claim victory here three years ago, and in so doing the Finn clinched the title by a point from Lewis Hamilton and Alonso.
Massa insists he remains “a professional driver,” believing also in the eyes of the fans he is not the villain in this piece.
“I expect to win the race, and I will do the best I can to win it for them, the people,” added the Sao Paulo native. “It's true that even after the race in Germany, when I arrived in Brazil, people were very nice with me, pushing me forward.”