Despite the general paddock perception that there are now realistically only five drivers remaining in viable contention for the F1 2010 World Championship laurels, off the back of his best-ever result in the Hungarian Grand Prix, Ferrari star Felipe Massa has asserted that it would be premature to write him out of the chase for the crown either.
Taking advantage of Lewis Hamilton's retirement, Massa came home fourth at the Hungaroring last weekend, twelve months on from his terrifying, life-threatening accident at the same circuit that many had feared would leave him unable to ever race again. Not only did the 2008 world championship runner-up betray no fear or ill-effects from his high-speed shunt, but he indeed bettered by three positions his previous highest finish in Budapest – and, he argues, kept alive his title hopes into the bargain.
“This was my best result at this grand prix and I am happy that it came one year after my accident,” the 29-year-old reflected after climbing to sixth in the points standings over the last two races, 64 markers shy of the lead with 175 remaining to play for between now and season's end. “All things considered, it was a positive result and against rivals who were really flying, we did the most we could.
“A week earlier at Hockenheim and at the start of the season in Bahrain, we were the quickest, but apart from that, the Red Bulls have always been strongest. We have to continue to push on the development front to catch up – in four weeks' time at Spa, we will see where we are compared to them. My championship definitely does not stop here; it has been a very special week for me and this has been a positive weekend for me and the team.”
The sentiment that nothing is over yet is palpably shared by team-mate Fernando Alonso [see separate story – click here
], as well as Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali and the Scuderia's
chief track engineer Chris Dyer.
“Red Bull was stronger than us,” the Italian acknowledged of the Prancing Horse's Hungarian weekend, “but we will definitely try again at Spa! I wish to congratulate Felipe, both as a driver and as a man; he managed a very difficult race without making the slightest mistake and as a man, he proved able to tackle in the best possible way a week when he was under a lot of pressure.
“Our aim was to close down the gap to the leaders in both championships, and that's exactly what we did. The situation is once again more open now, but we are well aware that there is still a lot to do. The Red Bulls have always been very strong, and I am sure McLaren will return to top form. We must stay focussed on our own work, always giving our utmost effort – on the track trying to exploit every opportunity, while at Maranello pushing hard on the development of the F10.”
“A great performance,” concurred New Zealander Dyer. “We got a result that was definitely better than the one our car should have been capable of delivering, and Felipe and Fernando both had to be perfect to bring home these 30 points.”