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Herbert: Massa `gets criticised very unfairly`.

Despite having run Lewis Hamilton to within a point of the 2008 Formula 1 Drivers' World Championship, Felipe Massa still comes in for a good deal of unjustified criticism amongst paddock observers – that is the view of former grand prix star Johnny Herbert.

Massa and Hamilton duelled tooth-and-nail for the coveted honours last year, and though the Brazilian in the end came up just short – at the close of a truly nail-biting finale to the campaign in front of his adoring home fans in Brazil – he went down fighting, doing all he could possibly do in dominating the race around Interlagos' Autodromo Carlos Pace as Hamilton trailed in fifth, enough to pinch the crown by a solitary marker.

There has since been much debate about whether the right man ultimately prevailed, and whilst Herbert contends that Hamilton did deserve the title, he maintains that were it to have gone to the driver who made fewer actual errors, it would have gone Massa's way.

“At the end of the day I think the right guy did win,” the former British, Italian and European Grand Prix winner told Crash.net Radio, “with everything that went on. He left it late, but he did everything he needed to do.

“In 2007 it was a shame for Lewis, because I think the team let him down. He had the inexperience, but the team could have helped him in China where he should have won; they should have brought him in way earlier, five or six laps before they did – I really don't understand why they didn't do that.

“Yes, he had his problems in Brazil too, but that was because he was under a lot of pressure. It was a big difference to anything he had ever had before, and maybe you could say he couldn't quite cope with it.

“In 2008 he was up-and-down, and he's admitted he needs to be more consistent. If you put the two of them together and see who made fewer mistakes, it was Felipe. He got let down by Ferrari, like in Singapore, and earlier in the year he had a few breakages and non-finishes due to the team, whereas Lewis made more mistakes by himself.”

Not only did Massa triumph on more occasions than any other driver in 2008 – six – he also proved to be the season's undisputed qualifying king, with the lowest average grid position to his name of any driver, and left defending F1 World Champion Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen quite literally trailing in his wheeltracks.

“You have to give Felipe credit,” inaugural Speedcar Series Champion Herbert argued, “for the way he kept banging in the wins, because that was the only thing he could do. He needed to win in Brazil, and then it was really down to what Lewis did.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
25.08.2006 Istanbul, Turkey, Johnny Herbert (GBR), Midland MF1 Racing, Sporting Relations Manager - Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Turkish Grand Prix, Friday
McLaren - Honda MCL32
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32 F1 launch, [Credit: McLaren]
McLaren MCL32, McLaren-Honda, [Credit: McLaren]
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
Fernando Alonso - McLaren MCL32
McLaren MCL32
Ferrari SF70H

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Lamarck - Unregistered

January 06, 2009 11:58 AM

Why doesn't Crash comments handle a winking smiley? My previous comment was, of course, a joke. On a more serious note, I think Massa did an OK job, but not a great one. He's an occasional great race driver, but not a great championship contender. Overall, an average driver in a great car. He lucked in to being so close to the crown because of his nearest challenger's inconsistency, his team mate's decision to live on another planet, and an ex-double world champion (and, arguably, a few other drivers) not being in a car good enough to compete for the duration of the season.

ferret .

January 06, 2009 4:26 PM

Hello everyone! I am not going to involved in any of your arguements here.. But what i will say is, i was one at the start of the season who did criticise Massa, but as Kimi lost the plot, and Hamilton had some mad moments, Massa took advantage and got the results, and he also dominated races aswell! Hungary is one of the races where i do feel sorry for Massa as he had the win in the bag and then,, his engine blew up! Next season i hope Massa carries on where he left off in 2008 and that is winning races, or putting on a good show! He has proved himself worthy of being a world champion, even if he lost out in the end!

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