Felipe Massa’s Ayrton Senna autograph snub story which he shared with Michael Schumacher

Jamie Woodhouse
Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, celebrate. United States, July 2006.

Ferrari team-mates Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher celebrate on the podium. United States, July 2006.

Felipe Massa told the story of how a previous encounter as a youngster with Ayrton Senna prompted him to push ex-Ferrari team-mate Michael Schumacher into giving a fan an autograph.

When Massa was a youngster dreaming of one day taking his place on the Formula 1 grid, the iconic figure of Senna in his native Brazil was the embodiment of what Massa would have dreamt of being: Formula 1’s next Brazilian star.

But it was actually a negative experience with Senna, rather than a positive one, which left a mark with Massa that stuck with him through his Formula 1 career.

Massa would explain that when Senna would not give him his autograph as a youngster, that was a memory which he could not forget, and it meant that going forward he found it impossible to ever say no to a young fan.

And this is something which Schumacher found out as well when they were Ferrari team-mates back in 2006.

“When I was a kid, Senna unfortunately refused to sign an autograph for me,” Massa began in conversation with Motorsport.com.

“It was very difficult for me to accept, because I was a child with a piece of paper in my hand, with two or three others who were with me. I didn’t get Senna’s autograph, and that’s something I’ve never forgotten.

“I got into F1, I managed to be an F1 driver, I managed to race for big teams like Ferrari, and there are still a lot of people asking me for autographs. I could never say no to a kid, because I always remembered that moment.

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“Once, in Barcelona, I and some other Ferrari people were having dinner with Schumacher in a very small town near Montmeló.

“I was with Michael, Jean Todt and Nicolas Todt. Then, when we came out of the restaurant, Schumacher got into the car and the whole town was there to ask him for an autograph. He got into the car, I got into the car. He was still driving.

“He was waiting for everybody to get into the car so we could leave. And around the car, a lot of people were waiting and knocking on the window asking for autographs, and he didn’t care.

“There was a little boy saying ‘for God’s sake, give me an autograph, do something, open the window’. That little boy was driving me crazy. I said to myself, ‘There’s no way he’s not going to open the window. I elbowed [Schumacher] and said, ‘Michael, for God’s sake, at least do it for the little boy, please!’ He looked at it, signed the little boy’s autograph, obviously signed about ten more, and then we left.

“I then told him the story of what had happened to me with Senna, and he enjoyed hearing it. He told me I was right. That’s typical of him: no emotions. And we Brazilians have a lot of emotions.

“Anyway, it’s an interesting story that happened with Michael and me and it’s worth telling. He was a closed person, really a closed German; you had to get to know him, to understand him, so that once he relaxed he really showed his personality.”

2006 proved to be Schumacher and Massa’s only season as Ferrari team-mates, Schumacher retiring from Formula 1 for the first time after that campaign, while Massa went on to become an 11-time race winner in Ferrari red.