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Championship contenders: Felipe Massa - The Ferrari driver is in with a shot at the 2008 F1 title

Published by Mr. C

Massa had possibly the worst start to a season that a championship contender could have, retiring in both Australia and Malaysia. However, it was definitely a case of third time lucky, as Massa went from zero to 10 points in Bahrain. Since then, his fortunes have improved drastically, but has he made the most of his opportunities?

Felipe Massa

Everyone knows that Massa has a reputation for being fast but reckless, and this year seems to be the first time he's really managed to tame his racing style enough to concentrate on the long game. I’m pinning it down to Monaco, where he spent all week telling us how the circuit didn’t suit him, how he didn’t enjoy it and wasn’t expecting to do well. Then, he nailed the lap, and pole position was his. Granted, the race didn’t work out, but since then, we’ve seen some of the spark that makes a champion.

Of course, we’ve also seen the other side of Massa. Silverstone was possibly the most embarrassing race drive I have ever seen. Any time you can lose count of the number of spins one man achieves in a race, that is a bad afternoon’s work.

Nevertheless, Massa has won five times so far this season, which is more than anyone else. He had Hungary in the bag too, before suffering a cruel mechanical failure. Things have often happened to Massa that were beyond his control. The engine retirement. The pit lane traffic lights. The traffic light system again, and again. Through it all, Massa has demonstrated a level head, and taken it on the chin. He’s defended anyone who makes a mistake, including himself, because he knows it’s a team game. Whilst the driver is out there on the limit, if it all goes wrong in the pits, as it often has at Ferrari, then it’s game over.

So, he’s won more races than any other driver, he’s matured, improved, and tamed his wild style, and has worked with his team to make it happen. Surely this makes him the worthy champion? Well, I’m not sure. You can’t forget those little errors that creep in, and his driving in Fuji frequently crossed the line between being on the edge and being reckless.

Massa is just five points behind the leader, which means it’s entirely possible for him to sneak through and take the championship title. But will it be a tainted title? The all too regular penalties that fall in Massa's favour I have deliberately ignored, because while they may be biased in favour of Ferrari, they don't specifically appear biased in favour of Massa.