THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SAO PAULO, Brazil — Felipe Massa didn’t like to hear the suggestion he could take Sebastian Vettel out on purpose at the Brazilian Grand Prix to help his Ferrari teammate win the Formula One title on Sunday.
Vettel has a significant points lead over Alonso and will start three positions ahead of him in the season-ending race in Sao Paulo. The Red Bull driver needs to finish fourth or better to become F1′s youngest three-time champion at 25 even if Alonso wins the race. But a podium finish will be enough for the Spaniard if Vettel doesn’t get any points.
Massa, who will be just behind Vettel on the grid, in fifth place, said that doing anything on purpose to end Vettel’s day would go against his principles.
"I’ve always been an honest person and an honest driver," he said. "And that will continue to be the case. My limit is the limit of the regulations, and I will stay true to this limit."
Alonso also refused any notion that Massa would break the rules or race Vettel any harder than usual to try to take his rival out.
"There would never be any talk about that," the two-time champion said.
He did admit, though, that he wants the Brazilian GP to be as out of the ordinary as possible so he can increase his chances of overcoming Vettel and winning his third F1 championship.
"If I am to have any hopes for the title, it’s more plausible to count on a retirement for Vettel rather than for him to finish in a position where I can get ahead of him in the classification," Alonso said. "Obviously, I am therefore hoping for a chaotic race and so the rain could be an important factor even if, in the wet, it is riskier for everyone."
Vettel, who has a commanding 13-point lead over Alonso, said he was not worried.
"I don’t expect anything," he said. "I’ll prepare and react fairly quickly given whatever situation we are in down to Turn 1 and through the first lap."
Last week at the United States GP, Ferrari intentionally dropped Massa five spots on the grid — by changing his gearbox and prompting organizers to give him a penalty — so Alonso would be in a better position to start the race.
Massa said that was a unique situation and would not happen this time in Brazil.
When Alonso drove for Renault in 2009, then teammate Nelson Piquet Jr. crashed on purpose — by himself — to prompt the safety car onto the track and help the Spaniard gain track position and eventually win the race.
FEELING AT HOME: Rubens Barrichello was back at the Formula One paddock at Interlagos for the first time since ending his F1 career last season.
"This time I’ll be doing something that I haven’t done in 20 years, which is to watch a race here from outside of the track," the 40-year-old Brazilian said.
Barrichello raced for 19 years in F1 before losing his seat at Williams at the end of the 2011 season. He twice finished second in the drivers’ championship as Michael Schumacher’s teammate at Ferrari.
Known as a specialist in the wet, Barrichello said he hoped for bad weather in Sunday’s season-ending race.
"If it rains and someone wants me to go out and test the car, I’ll be more than happy to do it," Barrichello said.
He raced in the IndyCar Series this season but it remains uncertain whether he will be back next season.
"I’m negotiating with a few teams but it’s still too early to know what’s going to happen," he said.
Barrichello also made guest appearances in a Brazilian stock car series this month and returning to Brazil to race full-time also remains an option.
Local media even published unconfirmed reports that he is negotiating a seat in F1 next season, possibly with team Caterham.
CELEBRITY STATUS: Former Brazil star Ronaldo caused a stir when he showed up at the Formula One paddock at the Brazilian GP on Saturday.
Members of several teams took a break from their work to take a close look at the striker who helped Brazil win the 1994 and the 2002 World Cups. Several team members even asked for a photo with Ronaldo, who retired a few years ago and currently works with sports marketing.
He met F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone this week to help promote a book about the series.