Ferrari deny Massa told to cause Hamilton crash

2011 Singapore Grand Prix

Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton, Singapore, 2011

Massa and Hamilton clashed in Singapore

Ferrari have denied Felipe Massa was encouraged to provoke the collision with Lewis Hamilton in Singapore.

Massa’s engineer Rob Smedley urged him to “hold Hamilton as much as we can. Destroy his race as much as we can.”

Ferrari’s latest anonymous ‘Horse Whisperer’ column states: “It might not have been the most politically correct choice of word, but it definitely carried no malicious intent.”

It adds: “This exhortation to Felipe came at the exit to turn five on lap 11 of the race, at the end of which both the Ferrari man and Hamilton were due to come in to the pits together.

“In other words, it had nothing to do with the collision between Felipe and Lewis that happened on the following lap.”

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108 comments on Ferrari deny Massa told to cause Hamilton crash

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  1. vickyy (@vickyy) said on 4th October 2011, 11:18

    Absolutely, the whole thing is totally blown out of proportion.
    I am actually surprised by the inclusion of message clip in race edits.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 4th October 2011, 11:23

      Exactly. If Massa hadn’t been forced to re-pit, this whole thing never would have been dragged up.

      • John H (@john-h) said on 4th October 2011, 15:03

        To be fair not many of the comments blamed Massa, Smedley or Ferrari for the crash – everyone including myself know it was Hamilton’s fault.

        The point was that Ferrari are again just using Massa (by slowing him down AND putting him at greater risk of a potential collision) and not letting him score some decent points for himself.

        Massa is finished in F1 and this just highlighted that Ferrari really don’t care about him anymore.

        • Fixy (@fixy) said on 4th October 2011, 19:10

          I guess they tried to stay ahead of Hamilton to score the most possible points. He was not slowing, as he had catched Alonso up by lap 11.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 4th October 2011, 19:42

            I don’t really think that was what they were doing. Sure, keeping Hamilton behind might have helped Massa, but I think it would have rather ended up for him like its been most of this season, low top ten position for badly timed stops and suffering on the tyres.

            I really feel they were working on helping Alonso getting a shot at the podium (which would have kept him theoretically in the championship hunt together with Button).

            But I am almost completely sure there was no intention whatsoever to force an accident.

    • Bleeps_and_Tweaks (@bleeps_and_tweaks) said on 4th October 2011, 12:08

      Surely this whole thing is pointless anyway?

      If the FIA were at all suspicious wouldn’t they be able to request the telemetry from the teams and see if Massa was off throttle, or delaying etc which would have caused the contact?

      It was a misjudgment that’s all, Hamilton would’ve been 4th or maybe 3rd at a push without it.

    • The Ram (@the-ram) said on 5th October 2011, 0:54

      That is no proof my friend. Only Massa really knows what he did. And I still believe he went slower than normal through the corner to break Hamilton’s wing.

      • Jimmy_D (@jimmy_d) said on 5th October 2011, 5:46

        Yes, I agree with you, trying to break someone’s wing is realistic than trying to puncture someone’s tire with your wing.

        • Julian (@julian) said on 5th October 2011, 7:03

          trying to break someone’s wing is realistic than trying to puncture someone’s tire with your wing.

          Either scenario is detrimental to a drivers race and just plain stupid to boot. No driver in their right mind would do such a thing deliberately.

          (Unless of course the world championship is at stake ie. prost/senna/schumacher) :P

  2. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th October 2011, 11:24

    I wouldn’t have taken “destroy” literally to begin with. And without seeing a full transcript we should be wary of reading too much into it.

    That said, the order is a curious one. Reading (cautiously) between the lines, it seems like they were telling Massa to keep Hamilton behind as long as possible to increase Alonso’s chances of finishing ahead of him.

    As ever, if we heard more of the broadcasts from teams, and we heard it in real time, we’d be far better informed and able to judge these things more accurately:

    Team radio is F1′s wasted asset

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 4th October 2011, 11:27

      Very well said Keith, spot on as usual!

    • damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 4th October 2011, 11:28

      That said, the order is a curious one. Reading (cautiously) between the lines, it seems like they were telling Massa to keep Hamilton behind as long as possible to increase Alonso’s chances of finishing ahead of him.

      I actually feel Massa had a chance of beating Hamilton on this occasion. Massa was on the harder, slower tyres while Lewis was on the softer, quicker compound. In order for Massa to finish ahead of Hamilton, he had to negate any advantage Lewis would gain on the fresh options, and that’s what he was doing before the incident. Ferrari may use Massa to help Alonso on some occasions, but this time I think it wasn’t the case.

      • Gold Leaf said on 4th October 2011, 14:38

        Doubt it. Nothing Massa did in that race showed any indication of him being capable of finishing ahead of Hamilton. He dawdled while his nemesis disappeared off into the night.

        Instead, the genuine significance of the radio traffic in question is in fact nothing to do with Hamilton, or a crash, or the semantics of ‘destroy’.
        It is what it reveals about Massa’s headspace, in 2011, in a Ferrari. How he is clearly beaten before he starts, instead of race-radio urging and assisting forward progress, the communication is instead negative. About looking backwards, not ahead. He is treading water and clearly a broken and frustrated figure.

        From half-a-damp-lap away from being WDC, we have to witness him getting pushed around in pitlanes, pushed around by team orders, pushed around by rivals arranging seat fittings, and now the ultimate insult to any racer’s pride, being told over the radio to act as a roadblock, a mobile chicane.
        That’s enough to bring the lid down on any driver’s self-confidence, he’s beat, and he’d pretty much done … Rob Smedley just said so.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 4th October 2011, 11:31

      I wouldn’t have taken “destroy” literally to begin with. And without seeing a full transcript we should be wary of reading too much into it.

      Yes, but there is more of a story in it if you imply Massa’s action was deliberate.

      • bananarama (@bananarama) said on 4th October 2011, 13:08

        If there had been a “Massas action” at all. At the point the crash happened it was simple defending into a corner as we saw dozens of times in the race. No point discussing it at all.

      • DVC (@dvc) said on 4th October 2011, 15:22

        Which is of course the whole problem.

        What is the role of the media here?

        If they believe there is nothing to it, is it responsible to post it as news knowing the act of doing so will likely cause others to think otherwise?

        I mean I know that the media ideally does not form a judgement and reports enough to let the reader decide, but there is _inference_ in what is reported. When reporting such a snippet, is it more responsible to publish it with some commentary regarding why the piece is interesting?

        Keith’s opinion of what’s interesting about the radio message is all over the website. He’s the reporter, and thus we trust him to have done the majority of the research for us.

        I think as readers of news we have a realistic expectation that the reporter will use the research gathered to couch the story in the proper terms. I don’t think a lot of news outlets have done that, they’ve deliberately kept the reporting of this vague so that readers will draw an unlikely conclusion because that conclusion sells ad-space.

        Keith, would you care to comment on this?

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th October 2011, 15:34

          It’s not for me to decide what others make of it. If I decide it’s worthy of a place on the site I’ll put it there.

          Of course I have tighter restrictions on my time and resources than a national newspaper or a dedicated weekly motorsport magazine, so it doesn’t necessarily follow that everything I want to cover gets the attention I think it deserves.

    • sumedh said on 4th October 2011, 12:51

      Reading (cautiously) between the lines, it seems like they were telling Massa to keep Hamilton behind as long as possible to increase Alonso’s chances of finishing ahead of him.

      While it benefits Alonso, it also benefits Vettel, Button, Webber, everyone who is ahead of them at that point and it benefits Massa himself.
      So, Massa is perfectly justified in trying to keep Hamilton behind him. He was only been given encouragement by Smedley by the “destroy” comment.

    • ed24f1 (@ed24f1) said on 4th October 2011, 15:24

      I don’t think this has anything to do with team orders or Alonso.

      Considering Hamilton had one less set of option tyres, Smedley and Ferrari would’ve realistically thought they had a good chance of beating Hamilton on the night, and as such, it would be beneficial for Massa to stay ahead.

    • Commendatore (@commendatore) said on 4th October 2011, 19:17

      In 2006 there was a similar radio message for Barrichello in which he was told “to kill” Heidfeld in the race!!! Now, why wasn’t that story covered as well as this one? Was it because no British driver was involved? :)

      Btw I completely agree with your opinion Keith that it was just another way of motivating the driver.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 4th October 2011, 19:43

      That Horse Whisperer collumn is nice, as it confirms exactly when the radio message was sent.

      Fully agree with you on the need to hear more of it so we can better understand what’s going on.

    • David BR (@david-br) said on 5th October 2011, 13:33

      Let’s presume it’s not a question of taking ‘destroyed’ literally, as in taking Hamilton out of the race through a collision. So what was it supposed to mean? It’s not irrelevant as it’s a strongly worded instruction. Aside from the aggression and maybe even animosity shown towards Hamilton by Smedley – and presumably shared by Massa – the curious aspect is the focus on Hamilton’s race rather than Massa’s own race. This is the damning part. It suggest Massa was secondary to some other objective: directly, ruining Hamilton’s race. But is that it? If so, it would be bizarre. More likely, then, that there was an indirect objective: protect the other Ferrari driver. So I’d go along with Keith’s conclusion. Strange, though, that Ferrai therefore seemed to think Massa would eventually fall behind Hamilton in the race. Low expectations indeed.

      However: by making this strongly-worded instruction to ‘destroy’ Hamilton’s race, Smedley was clearly asking Massa to drive differently in some way. Not faster. For me it would be enough to put a question mark at least over the collision a lap or two later, pushing it towards a ‘racing incident.’

  3. Passo (@passo) said on 4th October 2011, 11:26

    It’s quite an odd thing to say over the radio to a driver, but I can understand that Massa and Smedley have a special kind of driver/engineer relationship. Of course Smedley wasn’t telling Massa to actually crash into Hamilton – nobody does that, especially when they’re in a decent position.

    • SupaSix-1 said on 4th October 2011, 17:18

      Nobody is stupid enough to imply that a driver or any driver will on purpose crash. I dont think massa wanted to crash BUT it wouldnt be at all surprising if massa was slower on purpose to exit that corner so that Lewis would have to lift off.

      Massa & smedley probably thought that they could do a schumacher from monza…but forgot that to do that…massa would need to have some serious talent – which he hasnt.
      If you play with fire you WILL get burnt.

      Mind you piquet jnr did (crash on purpose) but that was more to do with the pressure & threats heaped on him by flabio and pat.
      -However whatever the circumstances….its not right. And instead of focussing on ruining others’ races…you should stick to improving your own races & impressing your employers….maybe then you wouldnt be humiliated for being known as someone who is going to be out on your ear.

  4. bosyber (@bosyber) said on 4th October 2011, 11:26

    Good to know when that message was said.

    Interesting that the Whisperer didn’t lament and critisize the choice by the race editors to show this message out of context, they must have really felt Massa and Stepney were unfairly treated and decided against the usual polemic response.

    So, that’s what it takes to make the Horse Whisperer change its tune and post a very sensible and calm, reasoned post, I knew they could if they wanted to.

    I do feel somewhat sad they felt they had to go out and state what could be considered obvious (well, or not, as it seems).

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th October 2011, 11:28

      Interesting that the Whisperer didn’t lament and criticise the choice by the race editors to show this message out of context

      Assuming it was taken out of context – maybe it was representative.

      • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 4th October 2011, 11:35

        Well, sort of yes, and we can’t check, because we don’t know the full set of communications. But what I meant was that showing it as a precursor to the actual collision, suggest a connection.

        While perhaps Massa’s driving was changed thanks to the message, which was a factor that lead to Hamilton making the mistake, there is no direct connection between the two events, but the edit makes it seem as if there is.

  5. damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 4th October 2011, 11:31

    “In other words, it had nothing to do with the collision between Felipe and Lewis that happened on the following lap.”

    I suppose some people fail to realise that the race edits are exactly that; edited. The radio message could have come after the incident for all we know. (I know that’s not the case, but before this statement from Ferrari, we couldn’t tell)

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 4th October 2011, 11:39

      In fact, during the race we also have no real idea how long ago that message we hear was actually sent, although we do indeed know it isn’t from the future :-p

      The radio is often only heard when the significance of a message has become clear already; even Brundle and DC often have trouble realising that. But for all we know it could have been said half a race ago, or more usually, several laps before.

  6. The Edge (@the-edge) said on 4th October 2011, 11:34

    no one ever said he deliberately tried to make him crash…

    its just called ‘karma’ or in this case ‘bad karma’ as it totally back-fired!!!

    of course massa didn’t want to crash but had he had both eyes on getting a good result instead of one (or both) eye/s on trying to hold up a car behind then this would not have happened

    I mean, its not as if he could have kept lewis there for another 44 laps was it…had it have been 12 laps from the end then sure…hold the man up but come on…who holds up faster cars these days???

  7. Faraz (@faraz) said on 4th October 2011, 11:44

    Yep people as always blowing it out of proportion,I’m sure this would not be as big a deal, If a Mclaren driver was asked to destroy a Ferrari drivers race. Now I can’t to read Andrew Benson’s thoughts on this,he never misses an opportunity to have a dig at Ferrari.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th October 2011, 11:48

      I’m sure this would not be as big a deal, If a Mclaren driver was asked to destroy a Ferrari drivers race.

      I don’t see any reason to assume that. I certainly would have run it because it’s a strong and potentially revealing quote.

      And Andrew Benson doesn’t work for this website so if you have a problem with him, go complain to him.

      • Faraz (@faraz) said on 4th October 2011, 12:04

        And Andrew Benson doesn’t work for this website so if you have a problem with him, go complain to him.

        Yes I know he doesn’t i’m just stating a fact.
        I know your job is to inform us of news in the world of F1, I was referring to others blowing it out of proportion. Thats all :)

    • vickyy (@vickyy) said on 4th October 2011, 11:56

      It amazes me that fanatism for a particular team eclipses the rationality of right and wrong.
      It would have generated equal reactions if this episode would have turned other way round.

      • Faraz (@faraz) said on 4th October 2011, 12:07

        Well said. But what team are you reffering to??

      • STSCM (@stscm) said on 4th October 2011, 16:35

        vickyy comments = a breath of fresh air. Thank you. The irrationality infrequently displayed here is remarkably similar to observations of American politics…
        The rest of my comment has been redacted due to scar tissue not quite healed from my previous comments, specifically in other forums far less rational than here…

    • John H (@john-h) said on 4th October 2011, 15:07

      But a McLaren driver wasn’t asked to destroy a Ferrari’s race.

      That’s the whole point.

      • STSCM (@stscm) said on 4th October 2011, 17:04

        So, it’s not that a Ferrari driver did the common sensical thing and hold up a rival while his points leading teammate disappeared over the horizon, it’s that the common sensical thing was vocalized.
        Irt to a McLaren driver destroying a Ferrari’s race (some would argue that was the result anyway) I think it’s wholly dependent on which McLaren driver was asked irt the reactions seen.

  8. Matt B said on 4th October 2011, 11:51

    Hamilton’s pass may have been ill judged but Felipe backing him up wouldnt have helped matters, that tactic was always going to lead to contact.

  9. Toby. (@toby) said on 4th October 2011, 11:51

    None of the issue makes sense. I saw nothing wrong with it the first time, but knew that the media would stretch it to its limits. If the Barrichello had an incident with Heidfeld after this radio message, who would claim that Rubens was literally trying to kill Nick?

  10. maxthecat said on 4th October 2011, 11:56

    God, why are people still going on about this? Smedley told Massa to destroy Hamilton’s race, NOT his car. Move on.

    • John H (@john-h) said on 4th October 2011, 15:11

      Because it shows Ferrari don’t care about Massa.

      It has nothing to do with Hamilton or is car.

      • TheScuderia (@) said on 4th October 2011, 15:41

        Massa would have helped himself by holding up Hamilton. Not just Alonso. So I don’t see how this is a case of Ferrari not caring about Massa.

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 4th October 2011, 15:58

          Scud, Alonso helps himself by not wasting time defending against a car that is to fast to keep back, Alonso looks to be close to the frontrunners not a lap back acting as a moving chicane, the points tell which tactic is more successfull.

  11. nivek252 (@nivek252) said on 4th October 2011, 12:01

    Storm in a teacup

  12. sebsronnie (@sebsronnie) said on 4th October 2011, 12:11

    I still can’t believe this developed into a major story. Are we that bored?

    • Bobby_B said on 4th October 2011, 12:23

      It’s all part of the showbiz of F1 to cause controversy to feed the media interest. F1 is much TV entertainment, as a sport and big business . Just like Xfactor is no more a talent finding competition than TV entertainment. Oh and bad news sells !

  13. Kiril Varbanov (@kiril-varbanov) said on 4th October 2011, 12:21

    I hope that’s the last article on that topic, because it’s completely pointless.
    RS could have just said “Give him hard times” and the whole “scandal” wouldn’t exists.
    Still, despite the many “don’t waste your time” comments from fans, different media keep on posting about it, trying to do … what, I’m not even sure, visits to web sites, comments?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th October 2011, 12:28

      Well, Smedley didn’t say “give him a hard time”, so there’s your answer.

      It was obviously a potent comment, and who knows where a story might lead. I was sceptical about the “Piquet crashed on purpose” claims after Singapore 2008, and look what became of that.

  14. Mike Monji said on 4th October 2011, 12:37

    It seems to me like it’s a Brazilian thing to crash on purpose to affect the outcome of races…
    First Piquet now Massa???

  15. pejtec (@pejtec) said on 4th October 2011, 12:42

    Alonso benefits from a guinea pig team mate being ordered to act in an unsportsmanlike manner at the Singapore GP. Deja Vu?

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 4th October 2011, 13:08

      I think you’re looking too much into it. It’s not like Alonso is fighting for the WDC, or Ferrari for the Constructors for that matter.

      • SupaSix-1 said on 4th October 2011, 17:08

        Which is exactly the reason why I think the excuse to massa to keep Lewis at bay in order to cover off alonso is a load of tripe.
        Massa hasnt made any effort before to help alonso so why start now when its too late?!

        Massa and smedley had a severe case of sour grapes towards Lewis especially after quali…so once Lewis fell behind….smedley and massa had an opportunity for some payback.

        But what they forgot to remember was that if you poke Lewis with a stick and toy with him…you will get severely burnt.

        So serves massa and smedley right!
        Massa has proved that he is not even a half-decent no.2 driver – a number 2 driver who should be helping out his team mate.
        So to think that massa may all of a sudden be great at holding up a driver is just wishful thinking.

        I hope this ‘own-goal’ by massa and smedley make them realise that instead of trying to be clever…they should stick to try and improving their own performances whilst they still have a chance!
        -But it is too late which is what I think they’ve already sensed hence the temper-tantrum and running to the headmaster…uncle charlie!

        • lopes (@lopes) said on 4th October 2011, 19:42

          So to think that massa may all of a sudden be great at holding up a driver is just wishful thinking.

          According to Button, Massa is one of the toughest drivers to get past (Australia 2011).

          I think that Alonso wouldn’t agree with that, though. He would say that Petrov is the toughest…

          • mystic one (@mysticus) said on 7th October 2011, 17:42

            “…I think that Alonso wouldn’t agree with that, though. He would say that Petrov is the toughest” all Alonso needs to say the magic words: “This is ridiculous” and Rob will do the magic for Alonso, so no reason for Alonso to try to pass Massa :)

            For the radio message in singapore, i think if no one intervene, massa/hamilton will have some serious issues later on out of frustration and vengeance of previous issues. I dont think Hamilton did anything wrong into the corner, but there is more to his side of story, as whenever he tries similar things he gets burned more than anyone else and other usually get away with it.

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