First off, I never like to make excuses esp when it’s Massa as I don’t want to be a biased plank :P So he should be performing better, he’s not as good as he should be but I do like speculating.
The accident – I don’t think the accident has impacted on his pace or not much. He has been lacking compared to Alonso but that may not be the accident. It can’t have been when he came back and in Bahrain was immediately quick. However, at Bahrain he got a bad start which was partly his own fault and it being the dirty side but after turn 1 he nearly ran Lewis completely off the road. I think maybe his judgement or race craft then were a bit rusty after so long out but he should be finding his feet. Brundle did say that Massa probably is lacking that extra bit of sharpness which counts for a fraction of a second.
I do think the accident has made him lose his balance a bit. He was on top of the world before and knew exactly what to do. Smedley said when he came back he was so desperate to prove he was the same that he was taking excessive risks in the corners, “being the hair raisingest of the hair raisingest” and that he had to calm him down more. I think it’s easier for a driver to be told to calm it down rather than speed it up but it shows that he wasn’t quite as on the mark and although Felipe likes to say he’s the same, he had to find his feet again. I also think that may go some way as to why he was bloody quick in Bahrain but has had little offs like Spain with the F-duct, Canada and some full on wildness at Monaco. He’s always had a touch of mad in him though so maybe not.
Tyres- he’s generally always been a bit behind Alo in quali but whenever the harder tyres come into play he’s suddenly got a big gap to him on the grid. The first instance was Aus where he went back and forth all weekend with set up. I think it’s clearly still an issue and one he should be on top of by now but it is contributing to his struggles.
The car- Massa salavaged some results in a Sauber. He was on top of his game last year in a car that was far from easy to drive. Yes, he shines when the car is at it’s best but he can do the business when it isn’t so I don’t think that’s as much as a reason.
Alonso- Alonso’s doing a stellar job pace wise but it means he’s making mistakes. However, he’s making Felipe look mighty bad and I think that’s just because Alonso is so damn good and there’s no escaping that. I do think the timing of Alonso was at the worst possible time for Felipe. He needs to focus on himself for a bit, regain that bulletproof confidence/arrogance he did have and work out where to go next but he’s got Alonso who’s making him look bad and probably isn’t helping the siuation. I don’t mean Alonso personally isn’t, just that his presence isn’t great for someone who is desperate to prove themself again.
I do think he is gradually improving. Bahrain was made easy because he was told not to push so much after Alo had passed him as he had some car issues. The RBR was quick then the Ferrari and then there was a big gap to the Mclaren. He still had to nail his qualifying which he did but apart from that he wasn’t tested.
It’s easy to just write him off and say it’s been a rubbish year but I don’t thnik that’s the case. I think most people, including me, expected far too much after he’s been out for so long, had a family and has Alonso in the garage next door.
His pace is still there, he’s not made as many mistakes as Alonso and crucially kept it together at Monaco qualifying and Turkey. Canada was one of his best I think; cracking overtakes showing the progress he has made and good pace. I think that Liuzzi done him a favour. He showed he can still fight rather than trundling around with the big names at front with a whole heap of pressure on him.
Valencia who knows? There looked like a slim chance for a podium and definitely a 4th place finish at least but it all went wrong. He would have followed Alonso home mind. It’s easy to forget that he was hanging onto Alonso for the most part until the SC mess.
Britain? Before the SC he was lapping much quicker than Vettel. He got through most of the slower cars fine but got stuck behind Glock I think. He should have got through the cars better when the SC came in tohugh but I’d say looking at performance purely, he isn’t doing good enough. Compared to last year, it’s hard to recognise him. Taking in the context, he’s in the hardest job in the world as Alonso’s teammate but is doing alright. Expect better next year though or he is out of there.