Felipe Massa has described his victory in the European Grand Prix in Valencia as 'an important moment' in his career – as he perhaps begins to sense that his destiny is driving him towards the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship.
The Brazilian was flawless throughout the weekend around the all-new, Juan Carlos I Marina street circuit in the Spanish city, seeing off the challenge of world championship leader Lewis Hamilton to seal pole position, and doing likewise on race day to comfortably control the pace and leave the opposition trailing – a controversial pit-stop contre-temps
with Force India's Adrian Sutil notwithstanding.
The result has helped to bring Massa within just six points of Hamilton in the chase for the crown, with the same number of races left to run and the momentum clearly back on Ferrari's side. Indeed, had it not been for his late-race heartbreak in Hungary three weeks ago, the São Paulista would now be sitting pretty five points to the good at the top of the table.
“It's fantastic having won this race,” the 27-year-old enthused, “especially after the disappointment of Budapest. The team did an amazing job in preparing for this grand prix, and the benefits of that could be seen right from the very first day.
“Yesterday I got pole and today the win, with the fastest race lap as the icing on the cake. You cannot ask for more, especially in my 100th grand prix, with every single one of them powered by a Ferrari engine.
“I got a good start and I pushed to the maximum right from the early laps. In the second part of the race the car was exceptional, but also in the final stint, when I had the softer tyres, I could do the lap times easily. This is an important moment in my career, and I must continue to work in this way.
“I am sorry for what happened to Kimi; we have to look very carefully at our reliability. I am confident the team knows which counter-measures to take to react to this issue, as it has always done in the past.”
Massa's performance also clearly impressed both the Scuderia's
team principal Stefano Domenicali and technical director Luca Baldisserri, and his recent run of strong form could not have come at a more pivotal time – with many now suggesting Maranello's management should begin to put all of its eggs in the #2 camp as the championship showdown closes in.
“Felipe has had an extraordinary weekend,” asserted Domenicali. “Yesterday he was very quick in qualifying and today he drove in impeccable style, without putting a foot wrong to take what was a very well-deserved win after the disappointment of Budapest. I want to compliment him and the whole team, who have worked so hard in preparing for this event.”
“A great performance from Felipe all weekend-long,” echoed Baldisserri. “He was fantastic and deserves all our praise.”