Sep.16 (GMM) For the first time in more than 40 years, F1 could be without a Brazilian driver 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 formula one, but Dr Helmut Marko has now dismissed speculation linking him with Toro Rosso.
It means 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 formula one 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,” added Barrichello.
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 formula one for decades.
“Long-term, yes,” he admitted.
“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,” said Ulisses.
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.