Guest Author - Christine Blachford
For the first few races of this year, Massa had zero points. A mixture of reliability issues and bad luck meant that it really looked like he was out of the championship race before it had even begun.
It also seemed as though it had always been his destiny to never quite make it. When he joined Ferrari he was in the shadow of Michael Schumacher, although itís clear he learnt a lot from the seven times world champion. Then he teamed up with Raikkonen, and again it looked like the driverís title would always be swinging away from him.
He has been considered a bit of a wild driver in the past, with a lack of consistency favouring only the tracks that he likes and feels comfortable on.
I think this all changed in Monaco this year, and now he is ready to fight for the championship.
Ahead of Monaco, Massa was already making excuses for a potential bad performance, saying he didnít like the track and it wasnít suited to the Ferrari car. Then he worked extremely hard and took pole position. He didnít go on to win the race, but a good showing meant his confidence was restored. Even his race engineer, when talking to some TV presenters seemed impressed, even a little surprised, by the change in confidence of his driver.
And since then, Massa has charged towards the front of the championship table, and is now fighting up there with the best of them. His demeanour seems much altered as well, and when all the drivers on the grid refused to talk to the ITV presenter in Canada, Massa was calm, relaxed and open to a conversation.
Whilst I am happy to see this upward change, not only in luck, but also temperament and ability, I am worried about the future. The real test will be when a downward spiral of luck causes problems again. Will Massa be able to keep his chin up and remain optimistic, even if he has a couple of bad races? The real secret of winning championships for people like Raikkonen and Alonso is that even when the chips are down, you just put a race behind you and move on. You are grateful for any point you can get, because like we saw last year with Raikkonen, one single point can make all the difference.
Massa is starting to show Raikkonen up slightly, and no one would have thought that at the beginning of the season. I hope the on track battle between them can continue throughout the year.