The race-finishing chequered flag at Interlagos next weekend will be waved by none other than Felipe Massa. This year’s race marks the first time since 2003 in which Felipe – who won in 2006 and 2008 – will not race in São Paulo, leaving Rubens Barrichello as the sole local driver on the grid.
Having been injured in his freak qualifying crash at the Hungaroring, Massa has been out of action but will be testing the 2007 Ferrari in Italy next week. After that, he will travel home to greet fellow F1 colleagues at the circuit before welcoming the winner over the line on Sunday.
Massa becomes the third celebrity flag waver in Brazil since 2002; the leading cars that year were in fact hilariously missed on that occasion by football hero Pele, who could be seen chatting as Michael and Ralf Schumacher crossed the line. In 2004, model Gisele Bundchen did the honours as Juan-Pablo Montoya won Williams’ last Grand Prix to date.
Here’s hoping that Felipe does a better job than Pele!