'A point to prove'

Yesterday's practice hero, Massa may not have won much with Ferrari, but the Brazilian will turn the tables next season, says brother Eduardo

When a Formula One driver fails to achieve success with a world champion outfit in nearly half a decade, it can leave him quite frustrated, disappointed and a bit angry too. That's been the case with Ferrari ace Felipe Massa, who's been around in F1 for almost a decade now and with Ferrari since 2006, but is yet to taste World Championship glory. A near-life threatening injury in 2009 did him no good either.

Ferrari diver Felipe Massa's younger brother Eduardo in Noida

Currently, he is lying sixth in the Drivers Championship on 98 points and fifth place is his best show this season. Add to this, his recent controversy with McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, has upset him again. Yesterday, however, he left everything behind him, along with all the other cars at the Indian GP practice session, as he clocked a fastest time of 1:25.706 seconds.

Felipe Massa. Pic/Getty Images

Formula One drivers don't have too many confidantes given their busy schedules and high flying lifestyle, but Massa is an exception. He shares almost everything with his kid brother Eduardo, who also manages his commercial activities in Brazil. MiD DAY caught up with Eduardo, also a former racer, to learn more about the Brazilian speedster.

What was it like growing up with Felipe?
Actually, there's a good four-and-a-half years difference between us, so we didn't really do a lot of things together. But I can tell you that Felipe had a love for racing cars right from his childhood and seeing him, even I took to racing.

Felipe's not achieved too much success with Ferrari. Do you guys discuss that?
I handle all of Felipe's work in Brazil. I have a company that promotes racing back home, and Felipe and a lot of world-class drivers have driven for us. I'm also the only family member who travels to Felipe's races across the globe. That's why I know him best, and we have discussed a lot of things. He is definitely working hard on improving and wants to get as fast as the Red Bulls and the McLarens, but obviously there are limitations maybe with the team or the car and he realises that. But Felipe is very focussed on achieving success. Not this year, but by next year he sure will be on top in Formula One, and today's practice effort shows he can do it. Felipe realises that he has a point to prove.

The motorsport world has been rocked by two recent deaths, that of Dan Wheldon (Indycar) and then MotoGP's Marco Simoncelli. Do you worry for your brother's safety?
I never worry for Felipe's safety because I know he loves what he is doing. I knew Dan well and I knew that he too loved what he was doing -- racing cars. It's unfortunate what happened to him, but at least he died doing what he loves doing. We too belong to a racing family and we understand that there is a certain level of risk involved in motorsport, but then that's our life. My father (Luis Antonio) was a racer, I've been a racer, so it's in the family. We are happiest when we are racing.

In 2009, Felipe suffered a near life-threatening crash during the Hungarian GP qualifying. He was airlifted to hospital. Did that scare your family?
I was there at the race so, I know all what happened from close quarters. My family was in touch with me throughout and I was relaying all information regarding Felipe's condition to them. My mother (Anna Rafaela) was very worried and so was our elder sister (Fernanda). But even that incident did not scare us because racing is a part of our life and we cannot be away from it.

Recently, there was an incident at the Singapore GP between Massa and Hamilton that led to a confrontation between the two after the Briton clipped the Ferrari while trying to pass him. The issue continued with Lewis saying a few things later too. Massa was very angry then but how are things now?
Yes he was upset, but then these things happen. I think the issue prolonged a little bit and in the heat of the moment Massa went up to Lewis (telling him sarcastically in front of the TV cameras "good job, very good job"). But later he realised that it's all part and parcel of racing. It may have been anybody's mistake, but Felipe has moved on from it I'm sure.

Finally, tell us, back home in Brazil, is F1 as big as football?
F1 is quite big in Brazil but definitely not as big as football. Football is the No 1 sport by far a but F1 is second because Brazilians love cars. Besides former Brazilian F1 great Ayrton Senna had a huge following back home. Currently, Felipe too is followed a lot.

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