It’s not the first time a driver has clashed with Felipe Massa; in fact it seems to be a reoccurring event.
Max Verstappen finally had the chance to answer questions about his crash during the Monaco Grand Prix in the FIA Drivers’ Press Conference on Thursday. Following the crash in which he clipped the back of Romain Grosjean’s Lotus, the Dutch teenager speared head-on into the crash barriers at Ste Devote, and was later handed a five-place grid penalty by the stewards.
Grosjean’s magnanimous response after the race was: “He will learn from these mistakes, because he is very talented.”
On the other hand, after the Grand Prix, Williams driver Felipe Massa – who had no involvement in the accident – sounded off about Verstappen’s driving, claiming: “He’s supposed to get a penalty for what he did. What happened was very dangerous.”
Almost two weeks on, we cut to the Canadian Grand Prix, in which Massa famously crashed here last year with Sergio Pérez on the final lap of the race. The Mexican was subsequently handed a grid penalty at the following Grand Prix in Austria, although the aftermath was soured by Massa’s conduct in which he labelled Pérez as a dangerous driver.
With the media keen to fuel the fire, Felipe was once again asked his thoughts on what he had previously said about Verstappen.
His response came across in a very feisty tone, claiming that Verstappen should have got the penalty.
Verstappen responded to the criticism by claiming he wouldn’t change his driving style and hitting back at Massa, referring to his clash with Pérez: “Maybe you should watch the race back from last year and see what happened.”
Massa was grilled further by SKY F1 commentator David Croft, who asked the Brazilian if he saw any similarities between the Verstappen-Grosjean accident and his own with Pérez the year before.
Felipe doesn’t respond and the question was redirected to another one. The tension between Massa and Verstappen was palpable, but Pérez – who were also in attendance – remained quiet.
Massa has always been known to be a vocal driver who’s quick to point the finger. Early on he clashed with Lewis Hamilton, and more recently there were incidents with Pérez or his first-corner accident with Kevin Magnussen at the German Grand Prix – in which he criticsed the Dane for his inexperience.
He doesn’t, however, cope well when it’s redirected at him. Let’s not forget that he was himself suspended for one race by the Sauber team in his rookie year in 2002 after being hit with a grid penalty for wild driving at the Italian Grand Prix – it was the nadir of a hit-and-miss debut season that saw him consigned to the role of test driver with Ferrari the following year before returning to the sport full-time.
Image via XPB Images