Brazil may be without F1 driver for first time in 40 years

Felipe Massa with Nicolas Todt

Felipe Massa with Nicolas Todt

For the first time in more than 40 years, Formula 1 could be without a Brazilian driver on the grid, in 2014.

Felipe Massa has lost his seat at Ferrari, but his manager Nicolas Todt is hoping Lotus will sign him as Kimi Raikkonen’s replacement.

Meanwhile, it had been reported young Brazilian Felipe Nasr was close to breaking into F1, but Dr Helmut Marko has now dismissed speculation linking him with Toro Rosso.

All this means that F1 is facing the prospect of a grid without a single Brazilian in 2014. According to O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, the last time F1 was without a Brazilian was 1970, prior to Emerson Fittipaldi’s debut.

“I don’t believe we (Brazil) will have no drivers in F1 next year,” Fittipaldi, now 66 and a two-time world champion, said. “I think Massa will sign with another team.”

Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, the longest-serving F1 driver until his exit in 2011, blames the situation on a disconnect between the junior categories in Brazil and Europe.

“There is a big difference between the racing here and the racing over there,” said the winner of 11 grands prix, who lives in his native Sao Paulo. “Today, just having talent is not enough.”

The issue could have implications for F1′s passionate Brazilian fans.

“In the short term, it has no effect at all,” said Oscar Ulisses, who has been a part of broadcaster Globo’s coverage of F1 for decades, “Long-term, yes. And just having a Brazilian on the grid means nothing – it’s important to have a driver who is doing well. Having someone at Marussia solves nothing.”

According to Italy’s Autosprint, another option for Massa beyond 2014 is Williams. It is already rumoured that his well-known Ferrari race engineer, Rob Smedley, could be about to return to Britain.

Autosprint floated the theory of Pastor Maldonado taking his PDVSA backing to Lotus, opening the door for Massa at Williams, perhaps with the support of the former F1 and Williams sponsor Petrobras, the Brazilian oil company. (GMM)

Subbed by AJN.

  • Boycottthebull

    Dont do it Lotus! You just making yourself look foolish taking in all Ferraris rejects. Massa seems to be pretending he is a former world champion saying he wont dive for a lesser team and wont be a number 2 driver. if he has a bad weekend he will crash the car several times something Lotus could not afford to replace. He may be a nice guy but he is 5 years past his best. Hulkenberg is the way forward for Lotus not this guy. Brazil will just have to encourage someone else.