Felipe Massa’s task in Brazil is clear; do what he has done the last two seasons and dominate the race.
Felipe Massa’s task in Brazil is clear; do what he has done the last two seasons and dominate the race. He looks like he has his head down a bit now, after being outpaced not only by Hamilton but also by Raikkonen in China. However he’s amazing at Interlagos and will no doubt be inspired by his home crowd, but there will be a bitterness about the experience too and this could really undermine his weekend. It's a psychological issue and I'll be watching very closely to see how he deals with it.
Massa knows that there is a very real possibility that this will be his only chance to win the world championship. You never know when a chance is going to come and you have to take it when it does. Robert Kubica has been making a similar point to BMW recently, annoyed that they didn't pursue this year's title.
Massa was presented with this chance because his team mate Raikkonen had major problems getting to grips with the 2008 Ferrari and fell behind in the points. But this is unlikely to be repeated as the team has set out an intensive winter test programme for 2009 which will see Kimi doing 9,000 kilometres of testing to make absolutely sure that he has a car he can challenge with in 2009. And as a motivated Kimi is always going to be stronger than Massa, this could be it for the little Brazilian. He looks back on the engine failures in Australia and Hungary and on the pit lane cock-up in Singapore and sees something between 20 and 26 points gone begging, which would otherwise have made him world champion.
At the final race, the whole of Brazil will be behind his shoulder, which is positive, but he’ll know that it is very hard for him to deliver and will be bitter about what has been lost. That will have its own unique pressure on him. It's out of his hands; he needs Hamilton to hit problems to give him the title. His mentor, Michael Schumacher’s motto was always ‘Don’t give up’ and Massa will no doubt follow it, but with some heavy doubts.
You can always look back on a racing season and think of what might have been. Massa had those technical failures I mentioned, but Hamilton will point to Spa, where he was docked four points for cutting the chicane and Massa picked up an extra two points for being awarded the win. Without that penalty Hamilton would have been champion in China. In racing, if it happens it happens and if it doesn't, you are always left with a feeling of what might have been.
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Massa's task at Interlagos
- Formula 1