Felipe Massa has insisted that both he and Ferrari are still very much in the battle for 2008 Formula 1 World Championship glory – despite seeing a consummate victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix at the weekend cruelly slip through his fingers just three laps from home.
The Brazilian had dominated proceedings in Budapest, surprising many by aggressively driving all the way around the outside of pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton into the first corner before going on to inch ever-further away as the race progressed.
The São Paulista looked to have put his Hungaroring curse well-and-truly behind him until – completely without warning – the engine in his F2008 cruelly let go almost within sight of the chequered flag, dashing his hopes of reclaiming the advantage in the drivers' title standings for the first time since Silverstone last month.
Despite his initial disbelief at what had befallen him, Massa was keen to stress that all is still to play for – especially given the much-improved pace Ferrari displayed on race day in Hungary compared to its more low-key qualifying form.
“We still need to push very hard in the development of the car and the reliability,” the 27-year-old is quoted as having said by the International Herald Tribune
, after being deprived of what would have been his fourth triumph of the 2008 campaign and ninth of his top flight career, “but even in a worse case like this, we're still in the championship, completely.
“We're still in the fight, [and] we'll be pushing very hard over the break. I'm in a very strong position in terms of me, so I think I'm still growing a lot and learning race-to-race, and that can help for the championship.
“The confidence is the most important thing, and I think for the moment everything is completely open; we have three cars in a very small gap in terms of points.”
“We are very sad for Felipe because he drove, in my view, the best race of his career,” remarked the Scuderia's
team principal Stefano Domenicali. “It was fantastic in the way he attacked and the way he managed the race, so we are very disappointed for that.
“He's very strong. For sure, [with] this kind of race, if you're able mentally to manage after the disappointment you have, you will only get stronger – and this is what we're going to do together, because that is the way we are going to approach the next race in Valencia.”