Could Felipe Massa ‘do a Prost’?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Monaco, 2008, 470150

On his current run of form Felipe Massa stands a chance of achieving something very rarely seen in Formula 1: he could turn the tables on his team mate by taking the title off him the year after he won it.

The only driver to achieve this in recent F1 history is Alain Prost, who did it twice while at McLaren. In 1989 he infamously turned the tables on Ayrton Senna and took away the title the Brazilian had won in 1988 when the pair were also team mates. And in 1985 he did likewise to Nika Lauda, the year after the Austrian had pipped him to the title by half a point.

Before then you have to go back over four decades to 1967 when Denny Hulme, driving a Brabham, pinched the drivers’ title off his team mate – Jack Brabham!

As noted here earlier the drivers’ championship race has closed to just six points covering four drivers. Lewis Hamilton may sit on top of the pile but Ferrari have won the most races and in the past four events Massa has trimmed Kimi Raikkonen’s advantage over him to a single point.

It seemed unthinkable a few weeks into the season when Massa had gone off three times in two races.

Why is it so rare to see drivers in the same team take titles off each other? In Formula 1 the competitiveness of a car counts for a lot, so you might imagine it would happen more often.

In recent years we have become used to seeing the top teams focussing their efforts on a single driver – it was certainly the case for Michael Schumacher at Ferrari.

One team that have consistently bucked that trend is McLaren. Their policy on signing drivers appears to be to compile a list of the best drivers in the sport and try to sign the best two who are available.

This has had destuctive consequences in recent years: the class of 2001 – Raikkonen, Alonso and Juan Pablo Montoya – all stormed out of the team on less than happy terms within 18 months of each other. Which is something else that Prost could tell us a thing or two about…

Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, McLaren, Montreal, 1988, 470313