Felipe Massa may come from the same country as racing legend and many people's hero Ayrton Senna but his own hero is four time champion Michael Schumacher. Massa was only thirteen when Senna's fatal accident happened in 1994 at the San Marino...
Felipe Massa may come from the same country as racing legend and many people's hero Ayrton Senna but his own hero is four time champion Michael Schumacher. Massa was only thirteen when Senna's fatal accident happened in 1994 at the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola; Schumacher taking the first two of his titles was more of an influence on the Sauber driver.
Massa admitted he tried to follow Schumacher in Malaysia to see what he did, only to discover the German was to fast to observe: "I tried to go behind him one time to see the line he took but he was much too quick and he just went away," he said. "I think Schumacher is the best; he is the number one. He was born with an incredible natural talent but he also worked quite a lot in himself to improve. On the technical side he knows everything about the car and when it's the best time to go out in qualifying. When he goes out on that first lap he always seems to set the best time. He is also very aggressive when he is in the race and when he arrives at another driver he always tries to overtake."
This weekend Massa will line up on the grid for his first race in front of his home crowd in Brazil but he is quick to refute that he is the new champion his compatriots are looking for and knows he has to be realistic.
"It's my first home race, so it's going to be amazing. F1 in Brazil is very important, so they are very passionate about it." Massa commented. "It's the second most popular sport after football. It is going to be great to race with everybody there with their Brazilian flags. But, of course, the pressure from the Brazilian people will be there because we have a lot of history. Senna and Nelson Piquet won a lot of times, and they are looking for a new good Brazilian driver. They are looking for a new Brazilian world champion, but it is quite early for me. It will only be my third race, so for now we have to look at the reality."
Massa was only five years old when he was roaring around on a mini-moto bike but his father thought it too dangerous and bought him a go-kart instead: "I was five years old and I was so crazy with my mini-moto that my father gave me a go-kart," the young Brazilian explained. "I raced go-karts until I was 17; then I did Formula Opel in Brazil in 1999 before going to Italy to do Formula Renault; then last year F3000."
"I won each championship in Italy, which got me my opportunity with Sauber. When I got the call to say I would be in F1 this season it was amazing, because that is the dream for every driver. I always had two dreams - one was to drive in F1 and the other was to maybe one day win the world championship. Now it is important to learn because everything is new. I would like to finish in the top 12 in the championship this year but in the future I would like to complete my dream."