Felipe Massa: great start, awful finish

Felipe Massa gave Lewis Hamilton a taste of his own medicine at the start...

Felipe Massa gave Lewis Hamilton a taste of his own medicine at the start...

Felipe Massa got off to a scintillating start in the Hungarian Grand Prix – but was doomed to suffer a heartbreaking failure in the closing stages that robbed him of victory.

Massa’s burst from third to first at turn one has to be the start of the year so far.

He went on to lead much of the race but with three laps to go he stopped on the start/finish straight with what looked like a blown engine.

That start

Massa looked like a good candidate to pinch second off Heikki Kovalainen as the Finnish driver had to start on the dirty side of the track. And sure enough he was ahead of the McLaren within a few metres of the start.

But Massa had also gotten away from third position much better than Lewis Hamilton had from pole ,and lined him up for a pass at the first corner. As Hamilton moved to the dirty side of the track to defend Massa stuck to the racing lined, locked up his tyres, turned in early to pinch Hamilton to the apex, and snatched the position.

It was an exquisitely-judged pass of the kind Hamilton drew praise for early last year, and it gave Ferrari the inititiave in the race.

A dismal end

But Hamilton and Massa were both doomed not to win the race. Hamilton had fallen back with a puncture leaving Massa with an unchallenged lead late in the race.

Massa’s engine was on its second race – unlike Raikkonen’s – and it came within three laps of reaching the end of its life. But on lap 67 it gave up in cloud of smoke.

Mechnical failures have become increasingly rare in Formula 1 at any stage of a Grand Prix, and it’s been many years since we saw a race leader drop out with a car failure so close to the end of a race.

None of which will be any consolation to Massa – who would be leading the championship now had his engine not failed.

Ferrari’s reliability remains questionable compared to rivals McLaren. They had engine problems with both cars in the first race, and Raikkonen suffered a broken exhaust in France that cost him a win.

...but his race ended with a dejected trudge back to the pits

...but his race ended with a dejected trudge back to the pits

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21 comments on Felipe Massa: great start, awful finish

  1. michael counsell said on 4th August 2008, 13:05

    Massa’s race was reminiscent of Hakkinen’s in 2000 at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Third on the grid passing 2nd place Coulthard easily and a brave pass on Michael Schumacher into turn 1, then comfortably lead the rest of the race. Fortunately for Hakkinen his car held out for the whole race.

  2. Eric said on 4th August 2008, 13:50

    Breakdowns are all part of the game. Look what happened to Damon in the Arrows a few years back! Massa is nothing more than an average F1 driver in a superior car. Look at what Kimi did in the Ferrari in his first year, only became World Champion!

  3. Martin said on 4th August 2008, 13:55

    does anyone have more on Mani’s question about what could or couldn’t be done with the engine?

  4. JEB from Philippines said on 5th August 2008, 0:37

    For me, MASSA is still the best and will be this year’s CHAMP..

  5. Paul said on 5th August 2008, 13:15

    Didn’t Massa go out for an extra run in Q1 when he didn’t really need to? I wonder if he hadn’t done those three laps if his engine would have lasted long enough in the race, but as Murray Walker used to if is F1 spelt backwards.

    At the start of the decade when Ferrari dominated, their success was based on ‘bulletproof reliability’ as I remember commentators calling it, while it could be argued McLaren lost two championships with Kimi through their reliability issues ‘fast but fragile’ was the popular term. Now a few years later I wouldn’t go so far as to say the tables have completely turned, but the difference is surprising.

  6. Kester said on 5th August 2008, 13:53

    JEB, I think you may be right.

    I’m thinking of chucking a tenner on Massa to win the championship. He’d bring home a decent return I reckon.

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