There are two things which in my opinion have affected Felipe Massa's career more than any other. The first is the 2nd November 2008. Felipe Massa was seven points behind Lewis Hamilton in the race for the championship, with just one race left, at Brazil. Massa took pole and drove a storming race, possibly his best ever, to win in the wet, and on the last lap, he was in a position to win the title: as he crossed the line for victory, Hamilton was in sixth. In the dying corners, on the last lap, Lewis Hamilton passed a struggling Timo Glock for fifth place, and with that, took the World Championship from Massa on the last lap. Jubilation in the Ferrari garage turned to despair as they realised Hamilton had beaten Massa by just one point. Massa's behaviour after this was impeccable. He praised Hamilton, and celebrated his stunning race victory in a professional and mature style. I was so impressed with him, and tipped him for the championship in 2009.
|Massa came so close in 2008|
|Massa's 2011 was a disaster|
So, is Massa really that bad? No. Like with Hamilton's 2011 season, you don't just lose talent, and Massa is still talented. He was excellent in 2008 and 2009, and clearly the injury had a bad effect on him. Whether he will win another race or not is a tough one, but he has the ability to. I don't think he's in the same league as Alonso, Vettel or Hamilton, but with a bit more pace and just getting closer to Alonso, he could be a winner again. Massa is still a strong defender, as he proved by keeping Jenson Button behind him in Australia, and Fernando Alonso in Korea for a long time. The main things he needs to improve on are qualifying and overtaking. Having said that, he did seem to have a lot of bad luck in 2011. His 2011 season was all over the place, but he knows that, and he knows he is now fighting hard for his seat at Ferrari. He is still a talented driver, and I hope he can re-find his 2008 form, because it would be very sad to think that the injury caused his downturn.
Over the next few weeks I will be looking at the six world champions on the grid, as well as three other drivers in top teams, in articles like this, as we prepare for the start of the season.