Felipe Massa: the driver debates

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Felipe Massa is in the thick of the title battle - can he become champion?
Felipe Massa is in the thick of the title battle - can he become champion?

Felipe Massa must be the leading candidate for most improved driver of 2008. In fact, you could make that case for the last two seasons, since he put the shaky start to his Ferrari debut in 2006 behind him.

This time twelve months ago he didn’t look like being the man who would lead the Italian team’s championship bid this year, but that’s exactly what’s happened. So can he go all the way to win the title?

Finding his feet at Ferrari

Massa’s move to Ferrari in 2006 was met with a degree of scepticism. It was hard to point to many stand-out performances from his three years at Sauber, and the convenience of his manager being Jean Todt’s son led to conclusions that Massa was being planted at Ferrari as a competent but non-threatening number two to keep Michael Schumacher happy.

That assessment was borne out in the first half of 2006. Massa made high-profile mistakes at Bahrain, Melbourne at Monaco. But as the year progressed he settled down and scored his maiden win at Istanbul – he remains undefeated at the track since – and a popular win in his home race.

This season started badly for Massa with mistakes at Melbourne and Sepang. But since then he’s scored points regularly, largely stayed out of trouble, and above all he’s usually had the beating of Kimi Raikkonen.

Championship contender

This is perhaps the most surprising thing of all because many expected Raikkonen to have little trouble keeping Massa down – especially having won last year’s championship.

It’s a very rare thing for the drivers’ championship to pass from one driver to another while the two are in the same team (Alain Prost did it twice).

But Massa, just one point behind Hamilton in the standings (seven if Hamilton wins his appeal), could do it. It would be especially ironic given that Massa relinquishing the lead of last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix helped Raikkonen become champion.

Weak spots

There are two particular areas in which I think Massa is yet to prove himself capable beyond question.

This first is race craft. Although he passed more drivers on track than anyone else last year, the statistic is flattered by the occasions on which he found himself towards the back of the grid having to pass much slower cars. It’s hard to think of many occasions where he’s gone wheel-to-wheel with other front-runners and come out on top, apart from his pass on Lewis Hamilton at the start of the Hungarorian Grand Prix.

Part of this perceived race craft weakness are his defensive skills. He more-or-less pulled over and let Lewis Hamilton pass him at Hockenheim. Last year Fernando Alonso brushed him aside late in the race at the Nurburgring to take the win.

The Nurburgring race ended in wet conditions, which is the other scenario where Massa struggled. But, like his race craft, this is an area where we have seen clear signs of improvement this year, particularly at Monaco. Still, that nightmare race at Silverstone will linger in the memory for a while.

There are competing explanations for what’s behind Massa’s turnaround. I think it’s hard to discount the observation that he’s simply improved with time. Plenty has been said about the role of Michael Schumacher and Rob Smedley in getting more out of Massa but, important though they have surely been, they can’t get in the car and drive it for him. Massa has simply been getting the job done, and his technical approach and/or driving style appear to get more out of the F2008 than Raikkonen’s do.

Massa has visibly improved almost every aspect of his game since joining Ferrari. But is he now world championship-winning material? Would he make a good champion? Have your say in the comments.

Read more about Felipe Massa: Felipe Massa biography

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62 comments on “Felipe Massa: the driver debates”

  1. I can’t help but be reminded of Irvine coming close to winning it in 1999. I never rated him and I don’t rate Massa. Coincidentally both were/are in the situation driving for Ferrari and there are suspicions they were both hired to support Schumacher. Thanks Ferrari.

    If Massa wins this year I reckon he will be the least ‘complete’ driver to do so in recent times. It’s interesting though that he’ll have done so with Kimi alongside, hardly the easiest of competition, even when he can’t be bothered to race.

    Still, any victory will be tainted if it’s less than 6 points and McLaren fail in their appeal.

  2. If Felipe wins this year, it will be more of Lewis and Kimi losing it than, Felipe winning it.

    BTW, Keith : I can’t wait for where you put Vettel and Massa in your yearly driver reviews.

  3. Felipe really impressed me with his start at Valencia, but he hasn’t done things like that often enough. His wet weather driving is weak and he is pretty inconsistent. Many have said it and you can see if you watch yourself, he doesn’t take the same line through a corner each lap. What the hell is that about?

    Furthermore his implication that the blatently unsafe pitstop release was in fact somehow Sutil’s fault for not getting out of his way was bizarre. He really let himself down with that one. Anyone think he apologised in private? I don’t.

    For me it highlights just how many unecessary mistakes Raikkonen and Hamilton have made that this guy is still strongly in contention for the title.

  4. Isn’t it interesting, in most other fields of endeavour we applaud a person who betters themselves and becomes a champion by enhancing their talent with hard work and passion.

    But in sport we assess someone when they debut and then stick to that opinion through thick and thin.

    I started watching F1 in 1985 and fell in love with Mansell. I couldn’t understand why most F1 pundits didn’t rate him! It was only later that I realised how long he had been mucking about doing not too much before he got his Mojo and became a champion.

    As it is with Felipe.

    Right from the start he was very quick. And as Schumi’s teammate he showed the astonish ability to beat the great man in equal machinery! But the questions about he erratic efforts and weaknesses in the wet and pressure conditions remained.

    He has worked hard and improved enormously from those early days. I still have the feeling that he will fall apart before this dance is over, but he has put Kimi away in the same car and taken the fight to the amazing Lewis Hamilton.

    If he wins the title this year, it will be enormously well deserved and a tremendous development.

    Forza Felipe!!

  5. I agree with the analysis of the Massa ‘completeness’. He is definitely a very quick driver, but all of his wins (I don’t consider Spa, obviously) came in similar, smooth conditions for him: ahead since the first corner, the fastest car on the track, no overtakes to do, good weather conditions.

  6. @ Sumedh and Diseased Rat

    Surely a Felipe win in 2008 would be no more fortuitous and lucky then Kimi 07?

    @ Phil B

    I can’t remember Irvine racing and beating Schumi fair and square like Felipe did at Turkey and Brazil. Give him credit man, the guy is quick!

  7. I like Massa, always have. His driving has a personality and I like that about him.

    I also think the championship is his for the taking.

  8. “If Felipe wins this year, it will be more of Lewis and Kimi losing it than, Felipe winning it.”

    as opposed Massa winning the championship because Lewis and Kimi DOMINATED.

    I honestly dont understand the logic behind those sort of sentence’s, winning by virtue of your main rivals losing is still winning… they LOST

    I’ll be honest, I didn’t rate him at all, i’m in the camp of, “he’s been doing that for how long?” but my eyes are open now, on his day he can beat Alonso and ShoeMaker fair and square…. and now those days are becoming more frequent.

  9. he is quick yes, consistant no.
    tho he has been so far this year! the year isnt over yet and i also expect he may falter at some stage, but so far this year he has suprised me, and the winner of the title from here will be the guy who makes the least errors, it’s been that kind of season, so this is now a test once and for all of just how good he really is.
    watch this space

  10. Kimi’s last 10 races have been such rubbish due to rediculous cirmcanstances, Massa basically just has had to finish the race to get more points…and thus has found himself in title contention. Hamilton as well has had problems which obviously helped Massa’s cause.

    I don’t like Massa’s attitude whereas he blames everything else when something goes wrong, but when he wins it was all down to him…even france.

  11. I think Massa will win this year if Kimi is willing to help and …. if there are no more wet races. It is likely to happen that way.
    However, I do not rank him to the same level as Kimi, Lewis and Alonso. He’s lucky to drive a competitive car. If he cannot take victory this year, he will become second Barrichello.
    Anyway, Good luck to him.

  12. i agree, he’s also yet to succeed in a ‘make something out of nothing’ situation.
    as i said earlier it’s a test to see how he goes under preasure, as he has yet to prove he can cope with this situation.

  13. while I sing his praises, i get the feeling he’s may be out of his depth next year, with new regs.

  14. @ Kavana… I don’t know if Massa always blames the team when he loses, I have heard him say in press conferences, that he could have done this or that or not made this mistake and so on. But the team have let him down on at least two occasions, the first was when they failed to put enough petrol in his car, totally out of Massa’s control, the second was the engine failure in Hungary. Massa may have contributed a little by his driving, but then Kimi’s engines have failed so it seems the unreliability with the engine is there. Massa is unlucky not be leading the comp at present and he really needs it not to rain to win it

  15. I have a small suspicion that Massa may well have a bit more effect in how the cars been developed this year. Kimi is hardly known for a fantastic work ethic, and it’s become incresingly clear that the car doesn’t suit him as much as it does Massa.

    If Massa has learned anything from Schumacher (as is so often claimed), it’d surely be how to develop a car – something Schumacher excelled at.

  16. I don’t really like Massa. In my Word .doc of my list of who are my favorite F1 drivers on the grid, Massa was P20 for some time, and P22 with Aguri. But boy, after that race at Budapest, I had to peg him a few spots from the bottom.

    He has improved. And in all honesty, his 2007 wasn’t particularly that much better than 2006, when he had a solid second half with the rapidly improving B’Stones and the F2006. That and Ferrari didn’t know what to do with the two in July and nearly let the two McLaren drivers run away with it for themselves.

    This year though, he actually has shown enough consistency to compare himself with Hamilton. And that is what it takes to contend. Will he become WDC? Remains to be seen, but he is only one point back (that appeal won’t be rewarded) and that’s all you can ask for. He has comprehensively dominated Kimi and deserves the position he is in at the moment.


  17. @Terry Fabulous

    True and I’m not saying he’s quite as bad as Irvine, nor that he’s slow. On his day, when everything goes his way, he has a tail wind and it’s dry he can be very quick. I just think that he’s missing too many of the ‘pieces’ of the complete racing driver to be a worthy WDC.

    I reckon Eddie Irvine as WDC would have been a complete joke.

  18. Phil B – And yet, had they been using the points system used today in 1999, Irvine would have been champion: 1999 statistics

  19. Kimi is the fastest man in F1. He is also world-champion. And yet Massa has beaten Kimi to the ground this season. I mean, this isn’t luck. It is Holyfield pounding Tyson. The man is good. I think it will take one more season like this one and people will give him his due.

  20. Keith, Thankfully we had the old points system! Anyway if the point system had been different the strategies etc would have been as well, not to mention the design of the cars. Probably the results would have been as well. I’m always a bit suspicious of any mix and matching of championships components….

    Personally I prefer the old scoring method, I think first place has greater superiority over second than second does over third. The old points system reflected this. I would actually like to see more points awarded for the lowly places, maybe something like 20,15,12,10,9…….

  21. There is no way Massa will win the championship this year, or ever. Lewis wins this year and Kimi will win it again next year, w/ the slicks and new aero regulations (enough of the tire-heating issues already). Massa is a mediocre driver in a very fast car, and only wins races if he starts from pole … and we all know he can’t drive on the wet.

  22. hm, Massa is a mediocre driver in a fast car, but at the same time is 20 points ahead of his team mate who happens to be defending champion.

    I am not really sure what would Massa have to do to get rid of that mediocre label people pasted on him few years back … Looks like even winning a title would not help …

  23. There is no way massa will win the championshop this year…or any year for that matter. he can only win from pole, when its dry and the other drivers have been penalised, and also he cant drive in the wet, we’ve seen that many a time. So to me he is only doing good because of the car he is in, and everyone knows he is only in contention because of that ridiculas Spa penalty and how, rather supiciously, Max Mosley and the FIA seem to have a vested interest in ferrari(e.g. the pit lane incident in which Masaa and only got a 10,000 euro fine, which is peanuts to him, but in the earlier GP2 race the same thing happend, but a drive through penalty was given).

    In mine and many other people’s veiw (not just hamilton fans), it will be a travosty if Hamilton does not win.

  24. Massa as a World Champion – the image still seems hard for people to understand. Probably because his mistakes this year remain longer in memory than his wins… I mean who can forget his frankly embarassing slide into the wall at the first corner of the Aussie GP? And of course the near half dozen spins in the British GP… but also he has had utterly dominating wins at Bahrain and Instanbul (Massa stomping grounds) and would have had 1 more at Hungary… I agree he seems to be useless while overtaking/defending cars of near equal speed, but in any case, Massa’s points tally is ahead of Kimi’s and probably will catch Lewis as well (barring rain :P), and isn’t that what counts? Being a Kimi fan, I am confused as to how difficult it is for a team like Ferrari to iron out these issues… My heart says Kimi will win this year, my head says Massa (again barring rain/him not getting pole etc..) and everything else says Lewis will :D

    Go KIMI!!!!!

  25. ” Being a Kimi fan, I am confused as to how difficult it is for a team like Ferrari to iron out these issues… ” i mean the tyre + heat = grip issues

  26. Kimi, in my opinion has been found out this season, as opposed to Felipe. His lack of interest in technical details and absence of constructive feedback to engineers ( widely reported by media during Mclaren as well as Ferrari days ); is I guess the primary reason, why the F2008 seems to be suiting Massa more and more than Kimi.

    If Felipe takes this season right down to the final race; I think it would be as good as a WDC. Since, he would have done it
    1. Without TC
    2. With 4 ( possibly 2 more ) wet GPs
    3. with a WDC team-mate.

    I like him more than Kimi, but he is not ‘complete’. If he wins, I would compare it to Keke Rosberg’s 1982 win.

  27. Most of you here are a bunch of Massa haters and need to get off Lewis’ nuts. When Massa is kissing that trophy in November in the home land you will all finally recognize and realize who the man is. And to the people that said that Massa will win only if Lewis and Kimi lose it, please Massa is driving great and is improving pretty much every race, while Kimi is jacking up every race and Lewis just keeps his shady track tactics, cheaters never win Lewis remember that. And if you ask what shady crap he does, well last week when he pushed Webber off the track was the latest of his doing that I can recall. I was hoping that Webber would just come back on track and hit em for that crap.

  28. Massa is a very quick driver, to be sure. However, I do not think he has elite skill. He doesn’t have the pitch-perfect manipulative ability of Hamilton, Raikkonen, and Kubica, nor the car control ability of the aforementioned.

    I’d rate Massa toward the bottom of the top-10 drivers in F1 or the top of the 11-20 bracket. He’s an average F1 driver.

  29. I still can’t figure out how he got to this position. This was a guy who was dropped from a Sauber race seat and sent to be a test driver.

    I don’t find the guy terribly likeable, and I really don’t find his driving ability to be all that amazing. For every notch he pushes himself up, like his Hungary performance or his start-to-finish win in that oh-so-wonderful Valencia race, theres an abysmal farce like his sunday drive at Silverstone to knock him back down two.

    If he wins the championship, I’d probably see him as the least deserving of the 7 champions I would have seen in my armchair Formula 1 career, the wet fish that he is.

  30. Fernando – When we did the ‘favourite drivers’ poll, Massa beat Hamilton: Which F1 drivers do you like? (Poll)

  31. “Cheaters never win”

    What about Michael?! ;)

  32. I’m happy to see Massa winning the Championship although I really want Lewis to win it. Because Hamilton’s behavour on and off the track is making him least favourable and unworthy.

    Massa is Drivers Champion.
    McLaren is Constructor’s Champion (it’s worthy one)

  33. I’d agree in that he’s the perfect number 2 driver – brings home points for the team and no real threat to the number 1. However, given Ferrari’s situation that their number 1 hasn’t been up to scratch to date, the beneficiary of it has been Massa.

    No discredit to Massa – he probably works harder in the paddock, and within the team, than Kimi – but unless he’s P1 in first corner and it doesn’t rain, he’s not an actual racer. He has PACE, copius quantities of it, but he’s been made to look so amatuerish by other drivers in many a situation, and in almost every season in F1 – yet this is his strongest performance.

    I’d like to think that Massa is vastly improved…in terms of points and WDC standings to date, yes this is his best season. But to say at Monaco he was better…well, he still had a minor off, and for a WDC at Monaco, in the wet…not good enough IMO. In one area he does seem a little, and I’m not talking a great deal, is that he seems to get less “rattled” by his frustrations and has the tendency to overdrive.

    As already mentioned, if Massa has more points than every other driver come November, it means his closest competition has bottled it. And one of them, the closest one, pretty much did that this time last year.

    We’ll see. If you think in terms of aggregate, Massa will probably win Brazil, so if that is true then he is +1 (minimum) on Lewis. But that’s some IF.

  34. The fact that many still underestimate him reminds me of post-Malaysian gp.

    Go Felipe!

  35. Ever since the preseason- with Kimi getting all the hype for a a repeat- I’ve thought that Massa should get a bit better reception from many of us fans. And although I thought he was in serious trouble after the first two races, he’s bounced back to drive very well. I know he’s often picked on for winning in certain conditions- dry weather, from pole, on a Tilke track- but let’s not forget that all drivers have their strenghts and weaknesses, and that’s just part of the way he operates.

    If Felipe wins the WDC, he’ll be just as deserving as if Kimi or Lewis won it. After all, those guys have made mistakes as well, and have had their off-days, but Massa is still hanging tough in the chase. For that, he deserves a bit of credit for sure.

  36. Felipe Massa is benefitting this year from being the only championship driver to be ‘underrated’ by nearly all of the pundits. At the beginning of the year, especially after the first two grands prix, Massa was written off, almost to the man, by most. He has pulled that around by some quite brilliant drives this year, Bahrain and Valencia are two that stand out, and at the same time, comfortably seeing off his team mate and defending world champion, Kimi Raikkonen.
    To be brutally honest, I never thought for one moment that with just four races to go, that Raikkonen would not be Ferrari’s main driver in the championship. I always felt Massa was a quick driver, but against a man of Raikkonen’s calibre, I expected him to be put firmly in his place. When you look at the other team mates Raikkonen has had in his career, Montoya, Coulthard, none of them have achieved the sort of ratio Massa has achieved this year in the same equipment as Raikkonen.
    That all being said, Massa is not immune to the odd gaffe, especially in wet or changeable conditions. His performance at Silverstone in the wet was one of the worst drives I have seen a ‘leading’ driver make in some time, and when you look at Hamilton’s wet weather race craft, that is a problem Massa needs to rectify.
    His one crumb of comfort is that Hamilton, and McLaren, are not immune to making costly mistakes themselves, illustrated perfectly in Monza a week ago.
    He has the speed, and skill, to be champion. I am not saying that he would make the greatest driver in history, far from it, but you are only as good as the people you are racing against.

  37. Massa, you will only win the title with the help of Ferrari International Assistance as Kimi is unwilling to give you any assistance at all, and i agree Massa has had his best season so far but next year with the new regs. i don’t think you stand a chance to be honest as it takes you too long to adapt. As a driver i think your good but not great as your not consistant enough.

    Kimi, the party boy will never win another title so its time to retire mate and give way to a younger driver who has more balls and guts than you, your problem is that you don’t know how too set your own car up as a someone else does this for you (your lazy ), the only thing your interested in is driving and partying!!!

    Lewis..i think has been harshly treated this season and if he hadn’t recieved so many penalties this season he would well ahead by a mile.The difference between Massa and Lewis is the fear factor the older you get the more fear you get when making overtaking manouvers and braking as late as possible. You can argue that Schumacher never lost the fear factor, but he would try everything to win the title even cheating which he did many times and got away with it, but give him is due he still was a great driver…so lets watch closely at the rest of the season and see two drivers battle it out for the title without the help of the FIA.

  38. Felipe can’t catch a break..
    His car broke down twice this season . In my recollection this took some 15 points from him (10 in Hungary and, say, 5 in Australia). He lost a further 5 points in Canada when the team made a mistake and he had to be refuelled again after the safety car – a move that put him dead last in the race and he still managed to finish fifth. Rain is not his forte, but more to the point, Ferrari does not have a good car in the wet this year (Raikonen is also strugling in those conditions) and he had to brave 4 races in the wet so far.
    At the same time the great Lewis-the-balls has driven a car that hasn’t had a single mechanical problem in the whole season. The team never forgot to put fuel in his car. Mclaren has one of the best wet whether cars in the grid – everybody seing how Hamilton would overtake the adversaries in the middle of the straight in the Monza GP could see that his car had way more grip than anybody else. One cannot put it down to his “extraordinary” talent – pressing the accelerator down in the straight is hardly a demonstration of skill.
    And yet the untalented & unlucky Ferrari driver is 1 single point behind the bigger-than-life, super-hyper-extra Hamiboy. And before the ******** starts, they made a similar number of mistakes throught the season: Massa had problems in Malaisia and Silverstone, Lewis scrwed it up in Bahrain and Canada.
    Hamilton fans must be getting a hell of a year to come up with the necessary spinning to explain such a close fight between your Greatest-Ever and, as one of you put it, a driver that belongs to the bottom of the top 10 (or rather in the top of the 11-20) drivers. Keep up the good work, Hamiboy fans, and may Planetf1 and the force be with you.

  39. Antifia – yes, Hamilton has made mistakes this year and it’s not as if I ignored them when I wrote a comparable piece to this one about Hamilton: Lewis Hamilton: the driver debates

    As for unreliability, you’re quite right that Massa’s lost more points than Hamilton through it (Though not quite so many: he was seventh, not fourth, when his engine went at Melbourne; and how many points did Hamilton lose with his wheel problem at Sepang?). But this is F1, failures happen, and who’s to say Hamilton won’t have another car problem late in the season this year? After all, he did at Interlagos last year.

  40. Keith: First of all, may your words come true: I would love to see some Mclaren mechanical gremmlings before the end of the season: Amen!
    When it comes to Australia, although Massa was seventh when his car broke, I don’t think I am too partisan when I tend to believe that he would have got at least fifth had his car held itself together. There was more than half a race to go and it was a clear sunny day – he!
    But my main point is that in a car that is at best equal to Hamilton’s (speed/reliability altogether) his is up there with him in the championship fight. If the Brit-Brat is so good, Felipe cannot be that bad.

  41. Memory refresher on Massa’s racecraft:
    1. His fight with Kubica last year (widely mentioned to somehow defend LH manouver in Spa but sorely absent from this discussion)
    2. His move on Kovi and Barrichelo (at the same time) in Canada this year.
    3. One for his defence abilities: Super-Hamilton was overtaking everybody in Monza until his streak ended. When? When he found Massa ahead of him.

  42. i wouldnt say hamo was faster than most at monza because he had his foot down on the str8!
    viewing the sector times, he was at times over a second faster than massa over a whole lap!
    if u r so correct on all of this Antifia then he’ll win the WC this year as from here, the guy who makes the least errors from now on will win it!
    P.S love the nick!

  43. Jonesracing82: Thanks, the nick is a result of the Suzuka 89 Prost+Ballestre shenanigans. Addressing your point, I think that Ferrari is more likely spoil Massa’s chances than Mclaren is up to mess Lewis’. But, then, only the next races will tell.

  44. According to so many people here. Massa only wins this years WDC due to Hamilton’s and Kim’s erros/mistakes. So if this happens i believe you all must consider him better than Hamilton and Kimi. Because if a driver makes less mistakes than others he must be better, more consistent, more focused, right? funny isn’t it. Logical sense.
    As for Kubica, the only great thing i’ve seen him do in F1 was a crash.

    By the way i’m a Kimi fan.

  45. For me Massa is a really good driver who drives with his heart and has real pace when he´s on it. Tecnically not quite a Hamilton or Kimi but still pretty bloody good.

    It seems everyone is very quick to criticise Massa every time he makes a mistake, but just about every driver has done so this year including Lewis, Kimi and Fernando. He´s also drove some great races from the front and if it wasn´t for the engine letting go right at the end in Hungary he´d be leading the title race.

    He´s basically paying the price for his early “wild” days when granted he did come unstuck a bit too often, he´s worked hard to loose that tag but some people have very long memories and are very hard to convince that he´s actually matured into a top F1 driver.

    To conclude, If he wins the championship it´ll be fully deserved. Even though the likes of Hamilton and Kimi are better all round drivers, they wouldn´t have done as good a job and been as consistant as Massa over the season, and that´s every bit as important if you´re going to challenge for the championship.

  46. Hello everybody

  47. Go 7 points Felipe !

  48. Why Felipe’s helmet is not yellow?

  49. Well, I think Massa is not a Hamilton, in terms of natural talent or aggressiveness, but still is quicker than anybody else in the field during a single lap…

    I totally agree that Massa is the “most improved driver” of 2008. When you say he is rubbish in the wet, you mustn’t forget that he was one of the few who didn’t acquaplain in the first corner at Nurburgring 2007, where even Hamilton lost control and went to the gravel…

    Yes, Hamilton is much better than Massa when it’s raining, but Felipe now is at least smart enough to keep going, like he did in Spa, and not ruin everything, saving a reasonable number of points…

  50. I think everybody is missing an extremely important point this year, which is Ferrari’s overall lack of pace and competence relative to their Brawn/Todt years.

    They’ve made playbook un-Ferrari-like mistakes that destroyed a few of races both from Felipe and Kimi. And their car just has no grip in rainy conditions: just remember Kimi’s Monaco and Spa races where he lost the car on the straight! Similar thing with Felipe’s Silverstone nightmare, he just couldn’t keep the car on a straight line.

    It is true that Felipe is only in contention because of so many ridiculous mistakes by Lewis throughout the season (he likes running into the back of people, let’s not forget Canada and Turkey, as well as cutting chicanes), but that says more about Lewis’ clear tendency to jump the gun than anything else.

    It seems ironic to me that the British fans are criticising Felipe’s consistency (calling it ‘unexciting driving’) in collecting points, considering it’s exactly how Lewis managed be in the title fight last year. When you’ve got the package you can push: that’s what Lewis is doing so brilliantly this year.

    Felipe is having the best season of his career, being audacious when necessary (overtaking Heikki and Rubens at the same time in Canada and repeating the feat at the start in Hungary, one of the most brilliant pieces of driving in a long time) and bringing the car home when it is so obviously below the pace, something the current world-champion has been unable to do. Give him some credit.

  51. I’ve never been a fan of Massa, and I absolutely couldn’t understand Ferraris decision to sign him. He has always been too inconsistent and looses it too easily (his concentration).

    At the begining of this season I was predicting him binning it without traction control, and whilst he’s had his moments, he definately has improved (silverstone aside).

    That said, I’m still amazed that he leads Ferraris challenge, this is turning out to be a year to forget for Kimi. He probably has already.

    Can’t see him winning the championship this year, unless Mad Max has some more say in the outcome of races.

  52. In nearly 40 years of following F1, I can’t think of a Champion who wasn’t deserving. Was Irvine a ‘deserving champion’? Don’t know, because he wasn’t. Would Regga have been a deserving champ in ’74? Doesn’t matter, he wasn’t champ come the last chequered flag. Piquet (’87) and Rosberg (’82) may not have dominated, but come the end of the season, they had grafted more points than anyone else by the rules of the time. Villeneuve (’97) might not be the greatest ever champ, but at the end of the year he had more points than his competitors and good on him. If Massa makes it, he deserves it. It’s not as if he is in clearly the best car, or is clearly a superior driver. But at the end of the day, if he gets more points than everyone else, he has done the better job – not just on the day, but for the season.

  53. Everybody must remember, that most F1 drivers would sell their very souls to drive for Ferrari. Massa has been given that opportunity, and is driving like a man that knows that it cannot last forever. Unlike Irvine and Barrichello, he has the freedom to race his team mate, and really fight for the championship.
    One cannot forget his role in last season’s title decider at Interlagos, inwhich he handed Raikkonen the lead after beautifully playing the role of ‘spoiler’ to the two McLarens. Raikkonen is a great driver, and beneath that frosty exterior maywell lay a real personality, but the truth is that he has not performed in 2008, up until this moment.
    At the end of the season, when the dust has settled and the champagne has been guzzled, the championship table never lies. The fastest, most consistent driver, always prevails in the end.

  54. It’s not a matter of “Massa hating” (“Hamilton hating”, perhaps…) The facts say he’s not just as good as Lewis. He is plain bad in the wet, he was luckier at the Monza qualy but ended just a few seconds ahead of Hamilton, who had started a whooping nine places behind! (On the other hand, I take my hat off to his Hungary start, but it was the one and only time he showed outstanding form). If he ends bagging the championship it will be only thanks to the past (and future???) FIA assistance, remember that it works two ways, not only pounding Hamilton, but forgiving Felipinho as well. I believe Massa has a great deal of chances of being champion, but it will not make him a better pilot than Lewis.

  55. At the end of the season, when the dust has settled and the champagne has been guzzled, the championship table never lies. The fastest, most consistent driver, always prevails in the end.

    Yeah, right, like Prost at ’89… And the results of presidential elections are never wrong, neither…
    Please give me a break!

  56. Come on people. Look how easily everyone forgets that momentary lack of talent by Lewis Hamilton in Canada. Look how long Massa’s Silverstone has lingered in everyone’s minds. Every driver makes mistakes. Some drivers are more penalised by the fans for those mistakes than others. Massa only wins on a good dry track? Well, lets not forget that Lewis Hamilton has yet to win a race having started lower that 2nd.

    Lewis Hamilton came into Formula 1 ripe and ready and into a front-runner team with an already great car. Perfect combination. Felipe Massa came into Formula 1 perhaps a bit too early and into a team that was never a front-runner and perhaps an awful car. Then into Ferrari, where he had to relearn how to drive a “proper” F1 car. Circumstances, I know. But they make all the difference.

    That’s my two cents.

    (Yes, I’m a Brazilian rooting for Massa)

  57. qazuhb: I would have some objections to your position. First of all, is it LH who is so good in the rain or does he drive the better wet whether car? Ferrari is so bad in the wet that it cannot even compete with Toro Rosso (a car that uses last year’s Ferrari engine)in those conditions. You say that Massa was lucky to have qualified 9 places ahead of Lewis. The funny part is that when Massa clocked the time that brought him to Q3, he and LH were on the track on full wets. He managed to set a time – Lewis didn’t… Then it came the race, where LH accomplished the astonishing feat of overtaking some Hondas and Toyotas (and the kind) to get to 7th. What you don’t mentioned is that he stoped right there. Who was the driver in the 6th position that he could not pass? Massa. LH just sat behind him for 14 whole laps.
    Just for curiosity, are you Brazilian? I ask that because you say “pilot” instead of driver and refer to Massa as Felipinho – you must have a good grasp on how Brazilians say things, which prompted me to ask.

  58. Antifia: No, I’m not Brazilian, I’m Argentine. That doesn’t preclude me to say that the best driver I’ve ever seen, light years away from any other (except only perhaps Villeneuve, the father) was a Brazilian! (I’m not old enough to judge our “El Chueco” Fangio). An anecdote from Juan Manuel Fangio: he used to meet a former Governor of the Buenos Aires Province, who would always ask, in a joking mood: “Who is THE best driver ever?” and Fangio would answer, in the same vein: “Juan Manuel Fangio, of course!” Well, one day “El Chueco” changed his answer: he said “Alas, it’s Ayrton Senna!”.
    Back to Monza: Kovalainen was also running a McLaren, and started from second place. However, the only real threat to Vettel came from Hamilton, I think that had rain not stopped he could well have won the race. So, for me it means the car is good BUT Lewis puts an extra something to it… or the Finn (Kovi)is just not up to the task.
    On the fact that Lewis did not choose to attack Felipe too hard, I think it was due to the tyres condition and too few laps remaining. Now should he had ten laps more…

  59. Sorry Antifia, but your analysis of Hamilton´s performance in Monza doesn´t really give a fair reflection of just how awsome his performance was (granted, until he cooked his tyres on his last stint)

    Firstly he overtook about 2/3 of the field including Kimi, the two BMW´s and Alonso, on a HEAVIER fuel load than most of them. He was also just about the only driver to have to make an unscheduled stop for inters (due to the changing weather conditions) Had he not needed to make that stop I think it´s fair to say he probably would have won the race.

    Let´s not be silly here, his drive was awsome and up there with some of the most complete and agressive drives we´ve seen for quite some time. Let´s hope theres more to come this weekend in Singapore.

    At the end of the day, if you cant appreciate that drive, then why are you watching F1 in the first place?

  60. It is kind of amusing the way that people have been so knowledgeable about Massa and Kimi’s, bad driving in rain. Stefano Domenicali has said that the car is difficult to drive in the rain. Schumacher himself has recently said that the car is not just difficult to drive in the rain, it is difficult to just keep it on the track. But even if they didn’t say anything you can see from the onboard shots that the car is very twitchy, snapping in the straights and generally just unstable, compared to some of the other cars on the grid. And yet both Massa and Kimi remains positive, and they have never complained about it why people keeps on questioning their skills.

    Ferrari has obviously seen something in Massa from an early stage. They have believed in him and he is now “paying them back”. If Massa wins the championship this year, it will be more then deserving. Massa has driven very well this year, and he has kept his head more then his competitors. It would be fantastic to see him take the title in Brazil in front of all his fans.

    Throughout this year one of the most prevalent reports by the journalist has been that Ferrari should replace their drivers. At the beginning of the year and middle parts of the year it was Massa that should be replaced, and now they have moved onto Raikkonen. Yet thought all the “advise” Ferrari keeps receiving, they have kept their faith in the drivers they have. Ferrari has all the inside info, and they can basically get any driver on the gird they want, and yet they have decided to stick with Massa and Raikkonen.

    That says something at the end of the day, people will keep on underestimating Massa and he will keep on surprising them.

  61. In my opinion , Massa is now more than good enough to win the championship. Many (Lewis supporters of course) say above if he wins by less than six points , they will not recognise it in view of the Spa penalty to Lewis , but they conveniently forget his bad luck in Hungary , which was a convincing win without the engine failure . And there have been some previous reliability issues this year as well , while McLaren – and all credit to them for that – have a billet proof car this year. Given that , Massa would have been well ahead of Lewis by now. Then there is the rain question – again I think it’s more the problem with the car than Felipe’ . As for qualifying , which is a great measure of a drivers talent under the most extreme pressure , Felipe’ has excelled , especially considering the Ferrari is known to be slightly slower than McLaren in view of the tyre warming issue. That said , even if he does not win this year , just watch him in the future , when everything comes together.

  62. I’m with qazuhb on this. If Massa is so good, why wasn’t he on the podium in Monza, when Hammy had been able to make up all those places (and leave Kimi far behind)? Then we would all be able to jump in our seats and applaud him (like we did for his start at Hungary).
    There’s been too much interference from the FIA on the results this year to see the true picture of where the drivers are in relation to each other.
    I promise I will call Massa a Superman if he can qualify 18th and finish first!

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