Massa: I was thinking of Ayrton
1 January 1901
Felipe Massa became the first Brazilian for 13 years to claim grand prix victory on home soil, and the Ferrari driver admits that the last man to do so occupied his thoughts as he crossed the line at an ecstatic Interlagos.
Massa led from start to finish when team-mate Michael Schumacher hit problems and Renault's Fernando Alonso showed no sign of relinquishing his grip on the world title, and was able to show just what form he will carry into 2007 by romping away from the field to claim a dominant second F1 victory.
Not since Ayrton Senna in 1993 has there been a Brazilian winner at Interlagos, despite the best - and often thwarted - efforts of Massa's predecessor at Maranello, Rubens Barrichello. The success, just like his pole, was cheered to the rafters by a crowd starved of local success, and it was an emotional Massa who took the flag - in more ways than one - at the end of 71 laps.
"When I took the flag, I remembered about Ayrton but I remembered not so much the Brazilian Grand Prix when he took the flag, but the time he did it at Monaco," he revealed after the race, "I always remember that moment and it was very special to see a driver getting the flag from his home country - and, for me, it was special to do it in my home grand prix. I stopped straight away in the first corner to find a flag.
"I remember when I was in karting and fighting for wins, so I got the flag. I saw the people and I was screaming in my helmet, remembering all the times from my past, particularly the difficult times. The most easy thing to remember is the difficult times, instead of the good times. This is for my family, my friends, the whole crowd and everything..."
Although he has no pretensions of ever matching Senna's popularity in his homeland, Massa admits that he expects to notice some changes now that he has established himself as an F1 race winner.
"I was thinking that, for sure, after today's victory, my life will change a lot, especially in Brazil," he said, "But that's really nice, because I always dream to be here, I always dreamed to be on the top of what I'm doing and, hopefully, I can get a lot of support from Brazil.
"I know Brazilian people love Formula One. Sometimes they are even stronger, because they want to see the result and, today, I had a fantastic result and I'm really happy about that. Hopefully, I can get a lot of support to have a lot more good results like today."