“In several countries they say my image is not good, but when I land at airports or go to the hotels or racetracks, what I see is the opposite,” he is quoted as saying by The Daily Telegraph
. “I'm not worried about it. My job is to get results at the track, and to have the team happy with my work.
“For sure there are some people who understand [the situation] – they have the knowledge about this complicated sport – but there are some people who will never understand. The crowd have opposing views, but I insist our work is not to understand the opinion of the crowd but to do the best on the track.”
But here's the rub. Paulo Castilho – a prosecutor in Brazil's Special Criminal Court and palpably a man who does not
understand – has told the Folha de S. Paulo
newspaper that if Massa goes ahead with his promise to help Alonso out by ceding position to him should he find himself able and required to do so, even if it is of his own free will, he will find himself in hot water indeed in his homeland and facing up to six years imprisonment for 'defrauding' fans of their right to honest competition.
For years, Rubens Barrichello was sarcastically nicknamed 'The Tortoise' in Brazil for the subservient second fiddle role he played to multiple world champion Michael Schumacher at Ferrari, and the country is not about to stand for the same thing happening again with Alonso and Massa – with the latter, indeed, finding himself vilified by his countrymen post-Hockenheim for having meekly rolled over and effectively put his own ambitions to one side in favour of someone else's.
Whilst conventional wisdom goes that the best way to ensure that Alonso wins the championship is to ask that the out-of-contention Massa help him wherever possible – and Red Bull Racing and McLaren-Mercedes have both conceded that should one of their drivers mathematically fall out-of-the-reckoning, they too would likely do the same – the Brazilian public, accustomed to cheering on heroes of the ilk of Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet and the late, great Ayrton Senna will not react kindly if the country's present standard-bearer sacrifices a popular victory in two days' time to aid his team-mate's cause.
Or, as Castilho remarks, 'if he does this he will have to leave Interlagos in handcuffs'. Felipe, Fernando and Ferrari, you have been warned...