Massa: Unofficial Ferrari Contract Clause Made Me ‘Number 2’ to Fernando Alonso

Published 01/05/2021, 7:50 AM EST
NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JULY 05: Fernando Alonso of Spain and McLaren F1 arrives at the circuit during previews ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone in Northampton, England. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)


Ferrari is infamous in the F1 paddock for having a ‘Number 1’ – ‘Number 2’ driver policy in their team. The most notable proponents of this preferential treatment in recent memory were Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

It has made fans eager to know if this is something that is already specified in the contracts of the drivers. While the Italian outfit stays tight-lipped on this matter, Massa has agreed to share the details.

Felipe Massa, Grand Prix of Great Britain, Silverstone Circuit, 08 July 2012. (Photo by Paul-Henri Cahier/Getty Images)

While he indicates that there is nothing official in the contract that specifies as such, there are certain obligations that he needed to follow that made him the de facto sidekick of Alonso.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

“Even if you don’t see it written on the contract ‘you are the number 2 driver’,” said Massa in a podcast with Motor Sport.

“But you have some clause(s) that you need to do what the team wants. Like you have to follow the instructions of the team and the instructions of the team mean many things. So in the end, you are not the number 2 driver. But if the team’s saying ‘the instruction is to do this or do that, it is inside the contract.”

This freshens up our memory of the notorious team order scandal at the German GP, 2010. While Massa was in the lead, he was famously asked to move over for the quicker Fernando Alonso. The FIA fined Ferrari 100,000 pounds for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The team’s bias towards him ultimately had a negative effect on him. Subsequently, this affected his confidence behind the wheel.

“For sure, it is for the mentality of the driver. The (strength), you know, that you need to have in your mind… for the confidence of the driver, it is so tough.”

So, why did Massa not leave Ferrari even if the team favored Fernando Alonso?

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

This begs the question – why didn’t he move to another team? Preferably, a mid-field runner where they build the team around him. The reason is simple for Massa as to why he stayed with the team.

Felipe Massa, Grand Prix of Europe, Valencia Street circuit, 24 August 2008. (Photo by Paul-Henri Cahier/Getty Images)

“I think if you have a competitive car and if you are under the competitive team, so you know that you can have a better result there than what you can have in another team… So, in the end, you are looking for being on the best team.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Ferrari has been following this policy from the early days of Niki Lauda to the Golden era of Michael Schumacher. With the ouster of Sebastian Vettel in favor of Charles Leclerc, it doesn’t look like it’s changing anytime soon.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

Bharat Aggarwal

755 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT