Ferrari ace Felipe Massa has revealed that he will make a personal $25,000 donation to the victims of the catastrophic flooding and earth sliding caused by the heavy rains that hit the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina last weekend.
More than 100 people died and some 54,000 families were left homeless following the worst natural tragedy ever to hit the region. During a press conference in the state's capital of Florianópolis ahead of the sold-out fourth edition of his International Challenge of Go-Kart Champs this weekend, Massa explained why he had decided to go on with the event, in the light of the national and local trauma caused by the catastrophe.
The race – which is expected to have an attendance of 12,000 spectators on Sunday – has once again attracted such leading names and international superstars as record-breaking seven-time F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher, four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jeff Gordon, the most experienced driver in grand prix history, Rubens Barrichello, Force India test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi and Ferrari counterpart Luca Badoer.
“It's a sad coincidence that we are promoting the race during these days,” Massa acknowledged. “I have heard a lot of criticism, people stating that we should cancel the race – but we think exactly the opposite.
“We do want to help people. This is the message we are sending – to give an example of solidarity, to give the maximum for those people in need.”
The eleven-time grand prix winner and 2008 title runner-up won the race in 2006, before his former Ferrari team-mate Schumacher stole his crown last year.
“Maybe this year we will make things not that easy for him”, the 27-year-old joked.