Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Ferrari's Felipe Massa turns around his season

Felipe Massa's strong performance at the Chinese Grand Prix could be the breakthrough that will rescue his Formula 1 career.

He was a little disappointed at how his race fell away in the late stages at Shanghai.

Having spent much of the distance within a couple of seconds of Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull, the Ferrari's rear tyres finally surrendered and left Felipe tumbling down the order in the last few laps, unable to hold off a host of three-stopping cars on fresher rubber.

It left him crossing the line in sixth place.

But disappointment in a race in which he finished 15 seconds clear of team-mate Fernando Alonso demonstrates a real turnaround in both his form and mentality.

It built upon a breakthrough that had actually been made a week earlier in Malaysia but was disguised there by a problem pit stop that lost him vital places.

Otherwise, he might have beaten Alonso there too.

But do not get the idea that this is anything other than Alonso's team.

The double world champion remains the absolute focus of Ferrari, as emphasised by the words of team boss Stefano Domenicali when asked if he had any observations on Alonso's somewhat low-key China race.

"I do not want to get into anything that might be interpreted as negative about Fernando. He is a fantastic driver and the biggest asset of this team," he said.

Massa and his engineer Rob Smedley fully understand this reality.

The key to rescuing a reputation that is now far below that of 2008 - when Massa came close to delivering the team a world title - will be in working within that understanding.

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