OCTOBER 3, 2011
Massa/Hamilton: storm in a teacup
You can tell it's a slow news week. Race engineer passes driver obvious message and it's headline news...
The amount of fuss that appears to have been stirred up by Ferrari race engineer Rob Smedley's message to Felipe Massa during the Singapore GP, beggars belief.
Massa and Lewis Hamilton had a brief TV pen spat after the race, in which Hamilton had accidentally cut Massa's right rear tyre when he made contact with his front wing following an attempted overtaking move.
Hamilton received a drive-through penalty for his trouble, en route to an eventual fifth place, helped by a Safety Car. Massa finished ninth.
Subsequently, a radio message from Smedley, released on www.formula1.com is being topspun into something almost as Machiavelian as Renault's 'crashgate' stunt in 2008...
Smedley tells Massa, before the incident: "Hold Hamilton as much as we can. Destroy his race as much as we can. Come on, boy..."
Hamilton's race had already been effectively 'destroyed' when he was squeezed by Mark Webber at Turn 1 and completed the first lap in eighth place, having qualified fourth.
Smedley's instruction is nothing more than a gee-up to his driver to alert him to the fact that Hamilton is behind and that he should resist the McLaren as long as possible. Nothing that should not already be obvious in other worlds.
Suggestions that Ferrari could face disrepute charges under a new FIA code applicable to senior team personnel who are now 'licenced' are as daft as they are unlikely. The world gets sillier every day...