Although we are yet to reach half the season mark I think it is safe to say that the result of Canadian GP reduced the number of 2008 F1 title contenders to four – Felipe Massa, Robert Kubica, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen. I do take the liberty to count Kovalainen and Heidfeld out of title fight and it will probably not take too long before their teams do the same… Let’s have a quick look at these four and begin with Felipe Massa.
Current position: shared 2nd
Points: 38 (4 behind the leader)
Results so far this season: DNF – DNF – 1 – 2 – 1 – 3 – 5
Massa’s start to 2008 season was a nightmare. His DNF in Melbourne may have been result of a mechanical trouble but it was the spin on lap 2 followed by similar spin a week later in Malaysia (throwing away 2nd place) that prompted media talks about his immiment departure from Ferrari. He however handled the media pressure well and came back with vengeance in Bahrain. Still the Bahrain win did not help him to silence the critics, it was just another win from pole position without having to overtake anybody … The win in Turkey, although thrid in a row for Massa in Istanbul, did not help him much either. After all, it was just a win on his favourite track …
Monaco was the turning point, especially the qualifying. Scoring pole position on what is Massa’s least favourite track on the calendar has impressed even Massa himself. Although he lost 2 places in the race he finished 3rd in difficult conditions – his best Monaco result to date.
Canadian GP, although 5th place was the worst finish of the season for Massa (not counting 2 DNFs), was in my opinion Massa’s best drive of the season if not of his career. He started from lowly 6th after not exaclty perfect qualifying run on the crumbling track. After refueling problems made him to make extra pit stop he dropped to the back of the grid. And that is where Massa’s big Montreal chase started. Massa probably overtook more cars in this one race than in all his previous F1 races combined. After taking 2 cars in one go he climbed up to 4th for a while before having to make another pitstop. Unlike many others he kept the car on track despite the difficult conditions and brought it home in 5th place.
Here is what is working for him:
- Ferrari car
- He is quick
- Qualifying form – Massa this season outqualified Raikkonen 5-2. With the drivers getting equal treatment in Ferrari at the moment the qualifying form may be significant advantage for Massa.
- As the last 2 races have shown Massa can come up with the goods also when the circumstances are not exaclty favourable.
- He can overtake …
What is working against him:
- Unlike Kubica in BMW Sauber and Hamilton in McLaren, Massa has a team mate to beat and can’t yet rely on the team putting all the eggs in his basket.
- Ferrari, while perhaps the strongest package on the grid, is not as relaible as it used to be
- Massa is prone to some odd mistakes (Australia, Malaysia even Monaco) and this makes himself his own worst enemy
So can he go on and win the title ?