Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Out of the frying pan and into the fire

Perhaps I spoke too soon on Saturday. Following a majestic run to pole position, Felipe Massa made yet another elementary error whilst attempting to peg the gap back to his team-mate Kimi Raikonnen, who took the lead at the first round of pit-stops with a blistering series of laps - at the time the fastest of the race. Perhaps he let his frustration get to him. Perhaps, as Martin Brundle rather neatly pointed out, he simply let 'ambition get the better of adhesion'. Whatever the case, it seems apparent that there was no mechanical problem on which Massa could pin the blame and that this was another high-profile pressure error. He now faces a 14 point mountain two championship leader Hamilton after two races. Psychologically, the climb he faces could be even tougher than that.

Despite that, Massa remains defiant and sanguine about his prospects for the rest of the season, as reported by At the same time as admitting that the absence of electronic driver aids have made the cars more critical and difficult to drive on the limit he maintains that his race-ending spin was down to 'different problems, not linked to traction control'. Whatever the truth of the matter, Massa now faces an uphill battle. Not only to get himself back into contention for the 2008 title, but also to ensure that the Ferrari team does not begin to gravitate around Raikonnen. And, attempt to pour cold water on the rumours that have begun to circulate though they may - see here - the speculation that Massa is driving to save his Ferrari seat from perhaps Sebastian Vettel (unlikely though this maybe due to the complexity of his contractual situation) or, more plausibly, Fernando Alonso, will only continue to grow if the little Brazillian cannot post some big results in the next few races.

Interestingly, Alonso has signally refused to defuse any rumours regarding for whom he will drive in 2009. What impact any continued refusal to dedicate himself to Renault's cause for the long-haul will have on the morale of his team remains to be seen. With regard to their current lack of pace, one might be tempted - mischievously and perhaps uncharitably - to wonder how slow their car might be this year if Alonso really has brought the same, infamous 'six tenths' to the team that took to McLaren.

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