Felipe Massa: great start, awful finish

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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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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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21 comments on “Felipe Massa: great start, awful finish”

  1. William Wilgus
    3rd August 2008, 15:40

    Regrettably, many malign Massa—despite the fact that he clearly deserves the opposite.

  2. Pedro Andrade
    3rd August 2008, 15:42

    Tough luck for Massa, he really deserved to win this one.

  3. I suspect that Ferrari may have taken a gamble in the engine before the race to give Massa more power. That would help to explain that awesome start he got off the line when he got by Hamilton, even though Lewis got a good start himself. It would also explain how Massa was all of the sudden 3 tenths quicker than Lewis when Lewis had been quicker than him pretty much all weekend. If there was a gamble, it clearly didn’t pay off.

    We’ll see what happens in Valencia. Given Lewis’ record on street circuits, I suspect he will have the edge.

  4. well done Timo!, he deserved to be on the podium, regardless of position.

    I really enjoyed watching the race, I was expecting a borefest, but watching the cars on such a narrow track made it look like an 80’s race.

  5. Incredible move at the start, probably the only interesting “racing part” of the race.

    I can’t believe we’ve got Hungaroring until 2016. It’s sooo boring…

  6. Wasn’t it only a month ago the world was laughing at a truly GREAT driver, a chap named Massa when he couldn’t
    keep his Ferrari going straight in the wet, a fault later deemed poor tyre choice, but when it comes to real racing he’s on par with the best at least when he’s in front. He clearly left the media darling in the dust but fate caught up with both! Who said the Hungaroring is ‘boring’ it continues to produce surprise results and likely will for 8 more years! Toyota ensconced in 4th place, FINALLY.
    Top 4 drivers only 10 points apart…….it’s been the best season in a long while.

  7. I am not big fan of Massa but that was really cruel what happened to him. I remember when Hakkinen lost race to Schumacher when his McLaren stopped few hundred meters before flag.
    None of us can not imagine how Massa have to feel right now. he did all right things and then..BANG.
    Really sorry for him, even when it gave win to finnish driver.

  8. I won’t complain about bad luck, because it happens to everyone, but I’m really sorry that his perfect start, overtaking both McLarens, and showing real talent for racing, didn’t convert in a win, that would be his best of the season.,..

  9. Massa drove well today. I think Ferrari might have compromised reliability for engine performance. There’s no easy way to explain how they got a 0.3s advantage per lap, particularly when they were 0.3s slow the whole weekend up to the race. They tweaked the car to get more mileage, hence lost the engine three laps before.

    Hard luck for Massa; sorry it did not work out for Ferrari.

  10. These things happen to every driver at one time or another – but it couldn’t have happened at a worse time for Massa this year.

    He got into the lead by a smart overtake instead of his usual dominate from pole position tactic. And he probably would have won the race even if Hamilton didn’t have the puncture – truly heartbreaking, no doubt Massa will focus these next 3 weeks and come to Valencia raring to go for another victory.

  11. As far as I am concerned… it was the best race Felipe ever drove… I had such a great time rubbing it into all his detractors at the pub today… the first lap was so amazing, it blew everyone away… if you ask me… I think Ferrari are on the up… even though they lost this race… if I were McLaren… I would be worried about Felipe’s form

  12. Massa deserved a victory, but hard luck! F2008 is struggling on its reliability when compared to the rival MP4-23. I got a question, may be silly! Is it possible to alter engine performances to such an extent in a race weekend.

    Inline to the current FIA regulations, If there is anything that a team can do on its engine, then it’ll be manipulating their Cylinder Head (adjusting intake, cam etc).

    But I wonder, if what was told by ‘MacademiaNut’ is true, then Ferrari has mathematically gained 0.6 secs per lap. Keith (or anyone), Do you think this is possible considering the current regulations?

  13. I think the term ‘Blunder’ may be applied liberally to Ferrari for this race – after all whatever they did to Massa’s engine has lost them 10 Championship points!
    As for Massa being a great driver – he is always OK in the dry, its the wet races that prove ‘greatness’ surely?
    I am interested to know what is and isn’t allowed to be done to the cars in Parc Ferme – especially after all the comments against the improved McLarens in Germany!

  14. What’s this crap about Ferrari taking a gamble on their engine? MacLaren got beat for raw race pace this weekend, it happens. Ferrari have always been great with race pace, as opposed to quali pace.

    Just because your man got beat doesn’t mean Ferrari tinkered with their engines, legally, or illegally.

    It all sounds like a rather bitter excuse to me.

  15. michael counsell
    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.

  16. 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!

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

  18. JEB from Philippines
    5th August 2008, 0:37

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

  19. 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.

  20. 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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