Felipe Massa has said he will not play a supporting role to Fernando Alonso in the championship from now on.
The Ferrari driver is being dropped by the team at the end of this year after four years alongside.
Massa told Brazilian television: “I will not race for Alonso from now on. From Friday in Singapore I will be working for myself.”
However Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo expects Massa to continue performing as before.
“They say he won’t help Fernando? Please!” said Montezemolo to La Gazzetta dello Sport. “He will definitely do so, giving us a hand for the constructors’ and Alonso for the drivers’.”
Massa also predicted sparks will fly between his successor Kimi Raikonen and Alonso next year: “I know both Fernando and Kimi on and off the track and I rate them as excellent drivers, but I’m afraid they will collide when sharing the team.”
Montezemolo praised Massa as “an exceptional guy and a wonderful person” but added “the relationship was clear – he needed results and so did we”.
“He did get some, but he was inconsistent, having some good races but not on a regular basis. In 2012, we felt the lack of his points in the constructors’. It will be good for him to have a change of scenery.”
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.