Felipe Massa: “Alonso is giving a show”

Felipe Massa (Brazil, 40 years old) kills the bug by running the Brazil Stock Car and closely following the growth of the great talents of the future of motorsport. He is about to complete his fourth year at the helm of FIA Karting, a project that he is passionate about and in which he tries to give a boost to the largest incubator in Formula 1. The Brazilian attends AS in the international circuit of Campillos (Malaga), where the Karting World Championship is held this weekend, he praises the Spanish drivers and makes his prognosis clear in the duel between Hamilton and Verstappen.

How are you doing in your new challenge at the helm of FIA Karting?

This is already the fourth year that I am President of FIA Karting. It is very important for me to give back to the karting school part of what it has given me. I started racing karting when I was 8 years old, I managed to go through all the categories, get to Formula 1, spend eight years racing for Ferrari. When I finished my career in Formula 1, Jean Todt called me to take up some position in the FIA ​​and I told him that I am not a politician, that I like competition and that it would be interesting for me to work on something that I knew and could help. give something important back to sport. He recommended me to be president of FIA Karting and I liked it because it is something in which I have experience to contribute to young drivers.

What are your main roles as President of FIA Karting?

My job is to think about the evolution of karting, how to make it cheaper, safer, evolve at a technical level, improve its safety, the tracks …

What do you expect from this karting world championship held in Spain?

The karting world championship is a very intense race. This Campillos track is incredible, very beautiful, very difficult, very technical, very fast. It is sure to be a very competitive race. It is going to be a great show for the public.

Are there guys here with the level to reach Formula 1 in the medium term?

For sure YES. The Formula 1 driver starts in karting. Max Verstappen started karting, like Lando Norris, Leclerc, Fernando Alonso, myself … Many F1 talents come out of karting and surely here we have an important driver who in 5 or 10 years will be a very important name in Formula 1.

Can you name some of those candidates?

In the senior category we have Kimi Antonelli or Rafael Cámara. In junior there is for example Freddie Slater and there are many more drivers in the karting world championship who can reach Formula 1.

And speaking of Formula 1, how are you seeing the World Cup?

It is a very exciting World Cup. We have what we want, a fight between two drivers and two teams. It’s what the fans and I want to see. Hopefully that will be the case until the last corner of the last race, as it happened to me, who fought for the title until the last corner of the last race in 2008. I hope it’s the same.

Did you expect such a close championship?

We always hope for a balanced championship, but it doesn’t happen every year.

Are we facing the birth of a new great rivalry between Hamilton and Verstappen?

I think so, although it will depend on how many years Hamilton wants to continue competing. Until then I think there may be a great rivalry between the two.

Who is your favorite to win the title this year?

My favorite is Verstappen. It is important that a new driver wins. I don’t like that the same driver always wins. Hamilton deserves it and he’s an incredible driver, with all the records, but my support goes to Verstappen. It is first. It depends on his job now at the end of the championship, but he has a great opportunity.

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He has shown that pressure does not affect him.

Pressure is part of Formula 1. You always have pressure. The former has it and the latter has it too. I think Verstappen is a driver who handles pressure well.

If he was champion, Hamilton would surpass Schumacher in titles. Do you think it would be above the ranking of the greatest in history?

It is difficult to make comparisons. Schumacher – Senna, Hamilton – Schumacher… They are drivers who made a difference at the wheel, different, but times change and it is difficult to compare. It’s like comparing Cristiano and Messi with Pelé and Maradona. Is not easy. The world of sports is always evolving, in Formula 1, in football and in all sports.

You know Fernando Alonso well. How have you seen him on his return to racing?

Very well. It was a bit difficult for him in the first few races, but he has returned to being the competitive Fernando we know. He doesn’t have a car to win, but he’s doing a very important job. He is fast, consistent and he is giving a show to all the fans.

He always said that if he returned to Formula 1 it was to fight to win. Do you think the changes of 2022 can bring you closer to the best?

Do you need a coach. You can be Alonso, Hamilton, Schumacher or Senna, whoever you want, but you have to have a good car to have a chance to win. The difference in level between one driver and another is very small. The car makes the biggest difference.

Do you think there may be surprises in 2022 with the change in regulation?

When there are very big changes, there can be surprises, although it is difficult. I think that the big teams will continue in front, as in the cases of Mercedes, Red Bull, maybe Ferrari, maybe McLaren … Normally, the big teams have a better chance of starting the year up.

Talk about Ferrari. In his time he was fighting for the title and now he has been down for a few years. Does it surprise you?

I’m not surprised. Ferrari’s best years were with Schumacher, then 2006, 2007, 2008… After 2009, Ferrari was no longer the benchmark team and it continues to be that way. There have been many changes and it is important to have a cooler mentality and that is difficult at Ferrari. I hope that with the changes of 2022 Ferrari can win again. I am a ‘Ferrarista’, but it is not easy. It takes very intense and cooler work to get good results.

As a good ‘Ferrarista’, how do you assess Sainz’s first year in the Scuderia?

Very well. He is a very strong pilot. Ferrari’s problem is not one of the drivers, it is the car, the team. Sainz and Leclerc are a very important driver couple. Sainz works hard, he’s consistent, fast… he’s a very strong rider.

Do you see him as a world champion?

It depends on the car (laughs). He has the consistency, but it’s not easy to get there and beat a teammate like Charles Leclerc right from the start. You have to do a perfect job to get it.

Do you miss Formula 1?

Now I am living a quieter life, enjoying my family, doing another type of competition such as the Stock Car in Brazil, the karting world championship and other hobbies that I have in Brazil. Also, I am doing a job as an ambassador for Formula 1. I will go to Mexico next week, then to Brazil, Saudi Arabia, I went to Monza… When I have time I always follow Formula 1.

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