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Felipe Massa says he can work with Fernando Alonso

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Exclusive interview - Felipe Massa

By Jonathan Legard
BBC Sport at Madonna di Campiglio

Felipe Massa believes he will have no difficulties working with new Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso despite their history of disagreements.

The two men clashed over a number of on-track incidents in 2007 and the 2008 Singapore race-fixing controversy.

But Massa said that those problems were in the past and would not affect 2010.

"I have no problem with him," he said. "I can do a good job with him. I hope we do a good job together because when you work well you have a better car."

Massa admitted that he and Alonso had fallen out after the 2007 European Grand Prix, when the Spaniard, then driving for McLaren, passed Massa around the outside in the closing laps to win the race.

"I had a problem with him in 2007," Massa said in an exclusive interview with BBC Sport, "because I came to say congratulations for the race and he told me I was not fair. Which is not true - I am very fair.

Exclusive interview - Fernando Alonso

"I was disappointed. We fight. You saw. Everybody knows. But after he said sorry, and then for me it is fine. I am not really a problem personality."

Last year Alonso was cleared of any involvement in the conspiracy which saw his Renault team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr deliberately crash in Singapore to aid the Spaniard's drive to victory.

But Massa has subsequently said Alonso "must have known" about the plot, which impacted on the Brazilian's 2008 title hopes because he lost a race win following a mix-up in the pits.

Like Massa, Alonso has also shrugged off their previous disagreements.

"We were competitive people in 2007 but we have a good relationship and this is the past," said Alonso.

"I never ask to be the number one driver in any team but I do not want to be the number two."

Massa, 28, added: "We need to work well together, otherwise it's not positive for both of us and the team.

"I don't think it will be a problem, we can develop a great car. I know he wants to do well, that's the job and I think we can do well.

"We're working together, not opponents with the car, but then opponents on the track.

I've spoken more to Fernando already than I did to Kimi [Raikkonen] in three years

Felipe Massa

"Things have started very well - we've started to talk about the car, what we have to do to have a competitive car.

"I've spoken more to Fernando already than I did to Kimi [Raikkonen, his previous team-mate] in three years. But I worked well with him even without speaking!"

Massa, who was talking at Ferrari's pre-season ski event, said he believes he will return to Formula 1 in 2010 stronger than before after recovering from his life-threatening crash last season.

The Brazilian was forced to miss the last seven races of 2009 after suffering a fractured skull in a crash at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

But he said a test in a 2007 Ferrari in December had convinced he was "better off than before the accident".

"I am more experienced and ready to get back to the fight and be competitive."

Massa said he had never had any doubts about returning to an F1 cockpit after the crash, which left him in a coma and with concerns that his left eye might have been permanently damaged.

Ferrari boss predicts close fight

And he said he had been so keen to return that, before doctors informed him about the full extent of his injuries, he initially thought he would be able to race in the next race in Valencia.

"I was sure after the accident when in hospital in Hungary that I was not in the position not to lose any races," said Massa.

"When I was talking to family, doctors, I almost fight with my wife who said you're not going to race in Valencia. I said, I need to talk to doctors, not you - three weeks before the race, for sure I will be OK.

"I was never in the position to [have doubts]. I was sure I was in a position to go back to normal fitness and normal life.

"Everybody knows the accident was quite big, but I don't remember it, so that is also positive.

"The accident did not change my life, change the way I think, the way I work. For sure, it gave me even more experience.

"The biggest problem was my sight, I couldn't see with my left eye. I went to three different countries to make a check. Most doctors said you'll be OK. Now my sight is fine, 100%. That was the biggest issue.

He added: "The most important thing is I'm fine - 100% normal like I was before the accident.

"Sometimes in the difficult moments in you life you learn more, you grow up more.

"When I was fine after the accident, I did so many things, go-kart tests, races, tests with an old F1 car and everything was good.

"So I feel really in a good position to come back and fight with I hope a competitive car and I hope with the possibility to fight for the championship."

Massa was Michael Schumacher's final team-mate at Ferrari before he retired at the end of 2006 and he said he did not know how the German legend would fare on his return to F1 with Mercedes this year.

"It's difficult to know if he's done the right thing," said Massa. "Maybe he'll take some time before he achieves the same results he had before he stopped."

Massa, 28, said he was surprised that Schumacher, who spent 11 years at Ferrari, was driving for another team but that the move was inevitable given that the Italian team already had Alonso contracted for 2010.

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"He had ended a perfect career," added Massa. "It's always difficult to stop when fighting for championship. But he never stopped racing in reality, he never stayed at home without doing what he'd been doing in the past.

"If I had wanted to race, if I felt something was missing in my life then maybe I would do the same.

"Of course it's strange given what Michael and Ferrari achieved to see him in another car. But then Ferrari had done a deal with two other drivers."

Massa said he expected the 2010 season to be a close fight on the track, with "maybe five or six drivers fighting for the championship".



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see also
Alonso relishes Schumacher return
14 Jan 10 |  Formula 1
Alonso cools talk of Massa 'war'
15 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Massa completes Ferrari F1 test
12 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Renault cost me title, says Massa
02 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Ferrari confirm capture of Alonso
30 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Massa fearless over racing return
08 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
F1 to investigate Massa accident
26 Jul 09 |  Formula 1


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