Felipe Massa joins the F1 title hunt

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Three races ago I was wondering if Massa had totally lost the plot over the winter. Now he’s bounced back with two victories and a second place and is only seven points behind Kimi Raikkonen in the championship.

Can mount a serious bid for the championship this year?

If so he needs to deliver at more than just the venues we are starting to recognise as “Massa tracks”. He needs to be up front at Montreal and Monza and above all he needs to on the pace when the rain falls – a big problem for him last year.

He now lies equal second in the championship with Lewis Hamilton on 28 points (see right), with the useful advantage of an extra victory keeping him ahead of the McLaren driver.

Ferrari have won the last four races in a row and if McLaren can’t beat them in the next two races, at tracks where the British team excelled last year, then Hamiton will be powerless to prevent the title from going to one of the two Ferrari pilots.

And of course Massa has to beat his team mate. He did that today but how much was he helped back Raikkonen’s problems? The Finn touched Heikki Kovalainen’s car at the first corner and blamed the wing damage from that (which he did not consider worth repairing) for slowing him down.

Massa has really turned his season around in the last few races but the hard part now will be not losing that precious momentum.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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29 comments on “Felipe Massa joins the F1 title hunt”

  1. I’m probably Massa’s only “fan” but all this talk of replacing him with Alonso is just foolish. I’ll admit
    in (heavy) traffic he’s a bit timid but he’s USUALLY in the clear and in the clear he’s a flier. Ferrari (or the public) shouldn’t expect any more from Alonso so why all the talk of replacing him? Massa has scored the same points in three races as Hamilton has in four. Again I ask, why all the talk of replacing him? If I were Ferrari I’d be looking for a Kimi replacement, I suspect he’ll win this years championship and then hang up his helmet. Massa and Alonso? Just remember who’s #1 and who’s #2.

  2. Number 38, I’m totally baffled by that comment. You’ve obviously been following motor racing a long time and you’ve driven in Grand Prix support races. But you say “Massa has scored the same points in three races as Hamilton has in four” as if it doesn’t matter at all that Massa’s in the fastest car on the grid and Hamilton isn’t? The comparison just doesn’t hold.

    At any rate Luca di Montezemolo has now said he wouldn’t replace Massa with Alonso, and as he was apparently the person who wanted Alonso in to begin with it seems Massa is safe. I would still rather see Alonso and Raikkonen at Ferrari though (or better yet, Schumacher and Raikkonen) because I like to see the best drivers in the best teams.

  3. number 38, normally i look forward to your comments.

    how you’ve come to that conclusion is beyond me, remember, Massa WAS number 1* last year, he’s now number 2.

    *because he whinged.

  4. Raikkonen’s line has a nice shape to it doesn’t it.

  5. I’m supposed to be in the group of those who dislike Massa. I don’t like his driving style (I couldn’t say it is smooth, nor fine, nor aggresive, nor nor nor…), I don’t like his attitude (Nurburgring comes to my mind…) and I believe he is absolutely flat when racing withing the pack. I’m sorry, dear Nº38, but I will feel hurted to have a world champion under the skin of such guy.

  6. William Wilgus
    11th May 2008, 18:41

    Let’s see if I have this right:
    Massa can’t pass,
    Kimi breaks cars,
    Lewis can’t set up a car, and . . .

  7. Hey guys, I think you are overrating Massa’s manouver in Nurburgring… he wasn’t too aggressive… Hamilton, for example, was quite wild on his overtaking procedure today, but still he was clean, fair, and I didn’t complain when I saw it…

    As a brazilian, I must say that Massa, with all his problems (inconsistency, lack of attention) made Formula 1 enjoyable again for us: he is extremely fast, he responds very well when under pressure, and when he runs where he likes (the “Massa tracks” Keith mentioned: Bahrain, Turkey and Brazil) he shows a supremacy that I haven’t seen in any other driver since Schumacher…

    And the most precious thing is: Massa shows clearly how much he learns from his mistakes: after two terrible races without TC, he scored 28 of 30 possible points, winning twice and being second once… he won his first race not from pole in Bahrain, he hasn’t lost the lead on the first corner, when starting from pole, since Malaysia last year…

    Now he needs, just like Keith said, to be competitive everywhere…

    I don’t think he needs to prove how fast he is, but how solid and mature he can be… Hadn’t he spun in Malaysia, he would be leading (sorry for the verb tenses) the championship right now, with 36 points…

    Let’s wait and see!

  8. Number38, you may be on to something. Kimi has spoken about how he did what he always wanted to accomplish. He’s just racing cos he likes it and has said as much that he’ll continue as long as he likes it. Though, in my opinion, it is inevitable that he’ll stop in next year or so. He’s too darned laid back to care, ’nuff said!

    However, i like Ferrari and appreciated skill of the ICEMAN. So i wish that he’d continue, but who knows.

    Massa would bounce back. I said that after Malaysia. When most had written him off. Well, he needed to. Also, he deserves better, ‘cos he’s a decent/sincere bloke. If i’m to be honest, he’s done much better than i could have anticipated. 28 points of a maximum 30 is bloody darned good. Dont’cha think?

  9. Ah, and I have to say: obviously Massa was helped by Kimi’s mediocre qualifying and poor start, but in the second stint, when both were running without anyone ahead, Massa was clocking 2 tenths of a second faster than Raikkonen, lap after lap, so I think Felipe would win anyway today…

  10. Well, you got to hand it to Kimi though. Broken wing and second race on that engine and gearbox which was causing him trouble already. He still managed to finish on the podium. So, in my opinion, a very commendable job.

  11. For sure, after that poor start, he made a very good job, despite the broken wing, scoring the fastest lap and a podium finish.

  12. And he was carrying fuel for 5 laps or so, cause I can’t remember how long he delayed his 2nd pitstop. This extra fuel could cost him 2 tenths easily.

  13. I agree with Number 38 about Kimi leaving F1. There is a lot of rumours about Raikonnen, and most of it says that he is not longer motivated to drive an F1. I don’t think that it will this year, but he has a contract until 2009, and then…

  14. Architrion. De la Rosa said that in Istanbul Park, each 10 kg of fuel, makes you 0.4 sec slower. And each lap, cars burn 3 kg aprox. So each extra lap of fuel makes you 0.1 sec slower.

  15. Massa needs to sustain his good run. Both Monaco and Montreal are favoured toward Mclaren, so lets hope Ferrari can get some good results

  16. Well, Ferrari have since last year shortened their wheelbase, which should help them on tighter circuits. It should theoretically be better. Plus, am a Ferrari fan, so it helps if they do well. Forza Ferrari!

  17. AH! Well, that drew some comment …… but Keith’s response is equally ‘baffling’: “Massa’s in the fastest car on the grid and Hamilton isn’t? The comparison just doesn’t hold.” Not true, Kimi’s the one with the ‘fastest car’ and three fastest laps and two poles to prove it. Isn’t it a bit petty considering Ferrari faster than McLaren when grid times are usually only 1/100ths apart?

    And a little review for ‘Sush’, Massa and Kimi would have been TIED at 84 points last year 14 races into the season when a Massa DNF put him out of the running. ‘Whinging’ had nothing to do with it. Having been relegated to #2 through no fault of his, Massa showed sportsmanship as we rarely see when he gave a sure win at his home race (Brazil) to Kimi to secure the Championship for the ‘champion’. And it wasn’t a mater of merely letting Kimi pass, Massa also HAD to finish second to denigh Alonso the 2nd place points. Would Kimi have done the same for him? Would Hamilton have done the same for Alonso? Not on your life !!!!!! I don’t know why Massa is so ‘dis-liked’, he’s just what we NEED in F1.

  18. Number 38, put your toys back in the pram, you don’t like it when people don’t agree with you?.

    thanks for telling me all about last years brazil race, because I completely missed it, please tell me more… where did Lotus come?

  19. Massa is doing very well, I think we will see some more surprises from him during the year. Massa’s biggest test will come now that the first part of the season is over. Most of the tracks that Massa are really good at (Bahrain, Spain and Turkey) bar Brazil of course have been really early this year. Massa now has to make use of that advantage, if he stays close to Kimi then Ferrari will not just make him the second driver.

    Massa learns very well and seems to be growing as a driver all the time. We will have to wait and see what he does at places like Monaco, Sliverstone, Hockenheim, Spa ext. that will be the real test.

    Another thing that is interesting so far is that Massa has had really “good luck” so far. While everyone else has had some mechanical or technical or even pit stop problems, Massa has actually so far been trouble free in as far as thing beyond one’s control. So it’s a bit inevitable that Massa will also have some problems at some point during the season.

    But so far so good, Massa really has the momentum now if he keeps it up the championship might go down to the last race.

  20. Number 38: .” Not true, Kimi’s the one with the ‘fastest car’ and three fastest laps and two poles to prove it.”

    Hmm, in the first place Kimi has had one pole position and two fastest laps so far. Kimi and Massa drives the same cars, so how exactly does only Kimi have the fastest car? By your logic Massa actually had the fastest car so far because he has scored two pole positions (more then anyone else;-)

    And how do you know Kimi wouldn’t have done the same for Massa if he was in the same position? I’am sure Kimi would have done the same.

    If you really review the year so far, I’am sure you will be able to see that Massa doesn’t get treated like the second driver.

  21. Lady Snowcat
    11th May 2008, 21:40

    Massa does great from pole on the circuits he loves…don’t forget he beat Michael fair and square at Istanbul…

    Kimi doesn’t have such circuits?… but he does….his is the ultimate drivers circuit…Spa…

    Massa has done OK but I’ll bet that if Kimi doesn’t make the same mistake of last year (and he won’t but I won’t bore you with why right now) he’ll be far superior in Monaco… and then we start to head into a group of races where he was mega last year…

    Massa had three wins last year… Bahrain, Barce and Turkey and we’ve been to all three… and he has only two wins…

    Kimi had Oz, France, Silverstone, Spa, China and Interlagos… and we’ve been to one and he’s won at two he didn’t win at last year…

    There’s still a way to go but if you were Kimi would you be worried about Massa… I don’t think so…

  22. Number 38, two chest thumps to you, and don’t you ever think that you are alone in supporting Felipe. That said, I understand most of the people over here going out of their way to deride him, and support Lewis, Kimi, Robert, or Fernando instead of him. it always seems to be a human tendency to support people who prove themselves to be, in a word “superhuman”.

    And that, is what is most endearing about Felipe for me, he is unlike the illustrious people mentioned above, Human. He is faulted, fallible, imperfect, and above all, emotional. In many ways Felipe represents most of us, even those who detract him, humans. In a recent post, when Keith had asked for the best championship that Schumi ever won, I remember most of the people settling for 2000, and if you look at it, it is simply because that was the most “human” victory ever. it wasn’t about the best car on the grid that just needed the best driver. It was about persistence and determination, qualities that Felipe seems to have oodles of.

    Yes, he is not a born champion. Yes, he is lucky to have a Ferrari under him. Yes, he sucks in the rain. But, he is one driver (Giancarlo also comes to mind) who is probably working the hardest to prove himself. Not only that, he also seems to be the hungriest (as opposed to desperate; read Lewis and Fernando here) to win the championship this year.

    Apart from this, any team bringing in Fernando has to understand that the other driver can’t be as quick as him. Ferrari was probably OK with that in Schumi’s days, but Schumi had proven himself after 5 years of hard work, to earn the number one status. On the face of it, in terms of pace, I think Felipe and Kimi are evenly matched (yes, I can hear screams of foul murder), and unless and until Kimi wins this year’s championship by outclassing Felipe (as opposed to Felipe doing it to himself), I don’t see Kimi getting the number one status. From the looks of it, it still seems to be fair game at Ferrari, and giving the number 1 status to Fernando, because he WAS two time world champion, two years ago, doesn’t make sense.

    My hunch for Fernando as of now is that Jarno will once again get dumped to make way for Fernanado. I really like Jarno, and I hope it doesn’t happen. But then Jarno, like Felipe, is also human, and given the amount of support that “humans” seem to get these days, I guess Number 38 and I would be the only ones left giving two Chest thumps to them.

  23. #38… it’s like we’re talking different languages. “Not true, Kimi’s the one with the ‘fastest car’” – I know that you know they both drive Ferraris, so what point are you trying to make? Do you think Ferrari give Raikkonen a faster car?

    As far as I’m concerned the difference between Massa and Raikkonen in the points standings is purely down to the Raikkonen’s better performances on balance over the first five races of the year, do you not agree?

  24. I love to say this: I told you so.

    Since malaysia i’ve been telling you every time is the same with Massa, he takes a couple of races to get with things, and what do you know, he’s back.

  25. I had to laugh at Peter Windsor interviewing Kimi Raikkonen after the race. ‘Well Kimi, despite your broken front wing you still managed to set fastest lap’, that was met with the typical Kimi grin. LOL.
    Back to Felipe Massa. I think he is a contender for the championship, which is an obvious thing to say after today’s performance, but the real test will be under adverse conditions.
    Massa’s chief rivals, Hamilton and Raikkonen, are both very cool customers and very composed in wet and slippery conditions, like Lewis at Fuji and Kimi in Shanghai for example. In the past, Massa has struggled in these instances, highlighted perfectly in last years Nurburgring battle with Alonso.
    To become a champion, you must be able to handle adversity and pressure. Massa is at his best when he is out front, in clean air, unpestered by anybody.
    Hamilton proved today, as Alonso did in Germany, that when Massa is put under pressure, he is the more likely Ferrari driver to crack.
    That maybe harsh, but its true. If Massa can begin to handle those situations a little better, when he is under the cosh, then he is in with a serious chance.
    Remember Alonso at Imola back in 2005, with a charging
    Schumacher on his transmission, and how Fernando kept his nerve and the points. Massa will, without doubt, have to go through that to be champion.
    He has the raw speed and the horsepower, I see no reason why he cannot mount a title challenge!

  26. sChUmAcHeRtHeGrEaTeStEvEr
    12th May 2008, 8:40

    i agree with people who say massa is too inconsistent. out of the five races so far 3 of them have been on tracks where massa has performed well normally. spain,bahrain and turkey, and all his points have come in them races. if we see him starting challenging for wins in places like silverstone, spa monza then only then would i consider him to be a real contnender for the tittle. until then i think hes just a lightening fast teamate to raikkonen who on his day (generally specific circuits on boiling hot days starting from pole) can beat kimi. this will cost kimi points and who knows maybe even another tittle.

    how true are the rumours about kimi retiring then
    ?? seems odd to me as id say right now hes the best in the field

  27. and the fact that he’s only 29!

    As for Massa he is too inconsistent, more likely to crack under pressure (although that can change) and not to great in adverse weather conditions.

    However he is in the right car to win this championship so I would never rule him out for being able to piece together a season full of great weather, a lot of luck and a lot of wins on his “Massa” tracks.

  28. Melaine: Massa made a terrible mistake at the start in Melbourne, but what actually made him retire was an engine failure, so, he had his bit of misfortune already, I just hope it doesn’t repeat this season!

  29. Keith and Number 38: Can I be the referee? ;)

    As for Kimi, he’ll retire when he wants to. And that could be anytime between now and, oh, about 2018…

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