Felipe Massa has stressed that Ferrari is supporting him '100 per cent' as he endures 'a particularly difficult time' in the latter stages of the F1 2010 World Championship campaign – and he insists that despite what he describes as a weekend where 'everything that could go wrong did go wrong' for him at Suzuka, 'you have to maintain a positive approach'.
Massa's Japanese Grand Prix adventure was indeed something of a disaster, as the Brazilian found his qualifying efforts badly stymied by traffic – consequently leaving him just twelfth on the grid, eight spots behind team-mate Fernando Alonso when he had been purposely tasked, now that his own title hopes are mathematically over, with aiding the Spaniard's bid to clinch the crown.
In endeavouring to make up ground when the starting lights went out, he then got a little over-ambitious into Turn One and ended up on the grass, subsequently shooting straight across the track as he lost control and harpooning the Force India of an innocent and doubtless rather startled Vitantonio Liuzzi, putting both men out of the race on the spot. It was not, the 29-year-old reflects, his most glorious moment in the sport.
“I had really been looking forward to returning to Suzuka for the first time since 2006, as I had always enjoyed the circuit and had missed its return to the calendar last year while I was recovering from my Budapest accident,” Massa wrote in his blog for Ferrari's website, as he currently relaxes at home prior to heading back east once more for the inaugural Korean Grand Prix next weekend.
“Therefore, I was very keen to tackle this race – and you can imagine how very disappointing it was come the end of Sunday, when everything that could go wrong did go wrong for me.
“It was clear right from the start that the Red Bulls were going to be practically unbeatable, but even so, being so many rows behind them [on the grid] was very frustrating for me. The story of qualifying was all about traffic – when I fitted the soft tyres in Q2 I had traffic in the first sector with Jenson [Button] coming out of the pits, and then I got a lot more of it in the second sector at Spoon Corner, where I found myself behind [Robert] Kubica, and all that cost me enough tenths to miss out on getting through to Q3.
“Of course, when you start from the sixth row of the grid, there is always a chance you are going to get mixed up in some trouble and that is exactly what happened, when I ended up crashing out of the race at the first corner. A very bad Sunday for me...”
That it was, but the real issue for Massa is that there has been a string of bad Sundays of late, and just a lone podium finish from the last five grands prix has done little to boost Ferrari's chances of lifting the constructors' laurels, sitting now as the Scuderia
does a gaping 92 points adrift of world championship leaders Red Bull Racing in that battle.
It has been rumoured that contract or no, the eleven-time grand prix-winner's seat at Maranello remains under threat for next year from Renault rival Robert Kubica – and Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo's suggestion that Massa will be 'the surprise of the last three races of the season' [see separate story – click here
] has been interpreted by some as a 'perform-or-you're-out' style warning. The Paulista, though, is adamant that he could not ask for a better or more 'understanding' team boss as he strives to turn his recent bad run around.