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 Post subject: Cracking the Felipe code
PostPosted: 18 Feb 2010, 13:59  
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Cracking the Felipe code
#11 | 18th February 2010

I’ll start with a quote from Martin Brundle. ‘Massa is like a good wine – he just keeps getting better and better’. We see Massa as a championship contender, a top driver. But it hasn’t always been that way...

So he’d been dropped by Sauber. He needed a rescuer and that came in the form of Ferrari. There were no race seats available however.
Felipe didn’t like testing too much. Once, in 2003, he was testing some components on Michael Schumacher’s F2003-GA that was going to be driven by the champion at the oncoming German Grand Prix. He was relatively new to the team – the 22 year old erratic racer earning a living amongst legends – Schumacher, Brawn, Byrne etc etc. It wasn’t a bad place to learn. Jean Todt told Felipe to take it steady around Fiorano and bring the car back safely so they could send it to Hockenheim.

He broke the lap record.

Todt, unsurprisingly, was livid. Even so, Felipe escaped the wrath of the Frenchman. In the two years he then spent at Sauber, it was plain as day to see how Felipe had matured. He was fighting above his weight, taking the Sauber to places it didn’t deserve to be. It was here where he beat World Champion team mate #1 – Jacques Villeneuve. Felipe was regularly in the points, including a super drive at Montreal where he finished 4th. He even led his home grand prix.

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Spinning for the first time at Silverstone in 2002; leading Jarno Trulli at Spa in 2004

Meanwhile, over at Ferrari, where he was still part of the family, tensions were building between Ferrari and Rubens Barrichello. Out went one Brazilian, in came another and Felipe had World Champion team mate #2 – albeit one who wasn’t going to be beaten by his young team mate.
At the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Michael took the 65th pole position of his career, equalling the record set by the late great Ayrton Senna in 1994. But Felipe said that he was held up by a Renault and that cost him pole. It probably did.

However, come race day and some suspected that the old Felipe had returned. An error nearly wiped out Fernando Alonso and he crawled home 9th. In Malaysia, Felipe was running 5th, Michael 6th. The radio call came. Felipe ignored it. That was a sign to the team – he was not prepared to be pushed about. But whatever Felipe did, Michael did better and usually to the tune of around half a second.

In came Rob Smedley. An Italian speaking engineer from Middlesbrough, he tamed Felipe. At the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix, he did it. He won a race. However, Michael had been held up behind Felipe at the first stop thanks to a safety car. It was a fortuitous win but deserved nonetheless.
But quite often Felipe was second best to Michael. Even in Brazil. Felipe qualified on pole, but mainly down to his retiring team mate having a fuel pump failure in Q3.

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Massa with Smedley after the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix

Michael put in one of the best performances of his career, coming from nearly one lap down to finish 4th. But the superiority of the Bridgestone tyres easily explains this. The Michelin shod teams were nowhere. Sakon Yamomoto, driving for Super Aguri, attained the 7th fastest race lap...
Felipe won an emotional race. He had improved in 2006 but another tough test was to follow. Enter, stage left, Kimi Raikkonen.
Kimi started the season by winning the Australian Grand Prix but Felipe won in Bahrain and Spain. Like McLaren, Ferrari faced a situation that they didn’t expect – both drivers competing to be number 1. Clinging on in the title race, Monza was the nail in the coffin. He lost a certain 6 points and Raikkonen crept ahead. Whilst McLaren were imploding, Kimi took the crown. He could only do this if Felipe was the dutiful number two in Brazil. He was. He compromised himself on his home track so that Kimi could win. That must have been hard to swallow. He couldn’t afford to be shoved aside by his team mate. But after 2 races in 2008, that was again looking likely. Driver errors compromised him in Australia and Malaysia whilst Raikkonen was simply supreme.

Then it all unravelled for Kimi and Felipe took advantage.

Once again, the Smedley-Massa partnership was working well. Rob told Felipe to stop being such a girl at Ste Devote in Monaco and brake later. He did just that and took pole position. It was a monumental breakthrough in both confidence and other’s realisation of his ability. Whilst he made an error in the wet race (every driver but Kubica did), he still managed 3rd. A win in France elevated him to the top of the standings for the first time in his career. Kimi continued his struggles and Felipe went to Brazil 7 points behind.

We all know what happened next. Felipe cried. Rob cried. It was emotional but the dignified and sporting way in which he handled defeat won him a lot of fans that day.

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Releasing emotions; Brazil 2008 and Germany 2009

Hungary 2009 and there was a turning point in the season. The F60 had come good and Felipe had been on a run of points, which had cumulated in a podium at the Nurburgring.

The car, for the first time all season, was fast and Felipe was through to Q3.

Then it all went black.

A few days later and the blackness turned into light as Felipe woke up. Thankful to be alive but disappointed about what had happened – hearing that Lewis won the race, he exclaimed ‘That was my race!’

But his work was done and he had won the psychological battle over Kimi. Not many would have predicted that the Finn would be the first to leave Ferrari.

Now a father, 2010 is another season where he has to prove himself. Firstly, he has World Champion team mate #4 in the form of Fernando Alonso to contend with. The Spaniard should fit the team better than Kimi’s Iceman personality did, so Felipe has to deal with that. They are his team. His family. Also, there is the Michael Schumacher factor. Massa takes advice from Schuey, but now with the German on a rival team, he can’t do this. Testing times indicate that the F10 is fast and Felipe has shown through his pace and long runs that the accident has had no effect on him – something he has reiterated a lot. But in race conditions..?

So, Felipe has to prove himself as the de facto number one, although if he is initially beaten by Alonso, he still has 2011 (much like he had 2008). Another side he must feel is why his team always want someone who, statistically, is better than him.

First Schumacher, then Raikkonen. He beat the latter, but now, Alonso. Oh man, he must have felt, not again.

What has he got to do to prove himself?

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 Post subject: Re: Cracking the Felipe code
PostPosted: 18 Feb 2010, 16:10  
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when Massa returned to Sauber, he was quite convincingly beaten by Fisichella with Fisi getting more or less double of his points :D

i agree with you about him wondering why these teammies are being chosen. in ferrari's defence, i guess Ferrari just want the best pair, and are actually not concerned if the person's stats are better or worse.
But ass Massa proved with Raikonnen, he can hold his own against strong opposition

i still find him a cry baby because he keeps lamenting about what happened at Singapore. he says he doesnt want to talk about it, but at the slightest opportunity he starts crying over it. He and Ferrari need to man up and realise that it was a mistake by Ferrari in the pits, otherwise they still would have had a good chance of atleast getting enough points to win the title.

one more important thing is that he lacks motivation (like Lewis Hamilton), when outside the points

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 Post subject: Re: Cracking the Felipe code
PostPosted: 23 Feb 2010, 01:04  
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sdutt wrote:
one more important thing is that he lacks motivation (like Lewis Hamilton), when outside the points

I think that's a normal scenario when you're used to being a frontrunner. You could clearly see that lack of confidence in him (Team Radio at the end of the 2009 Spanish GP: "What happened? What happened to my team?"), but, when the car started improving and he reached 3rd at Nurburgring, his confidence was up again, and when he went to hungary, he was more determined than ever to make it again, and if it wasn't for that freak accident, he could've done brilliantly. Needless to say he was gutted for having a simple spring hit him in the head and kill a year that could've given him more things to look forward to, so he had every right to be enraged and say what he said to express it.
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 Post subject: Re: Cracking the Felipe code
PostPosted: 23 Feb 2010, 07:59  
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Another good article. :)


The images don't work though :(

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 Post subject: Re: Cracking the Felipe code
PostPosted: 23 Feb 2010, 14:49  
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No article this week but a bumper season preview will be posted (in a word or pdf document, its too difficult to publish it in formum format) next week somewhen.

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 Post subject: Re: Cracking the Felipe code
PostPosted: 24 Feb 2010, 09:09  
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phil1993 wrote:
No article this week but a bumper season preview will be posted (in a word or pdf document, its too difficult to publish it in formum format) next week somewhen.


Great Article Phil. Will be looking forward to the season preview. :thumbsup:
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