Felipe Massa has received a boost as the 2008 Formula 1 season gets ever-closer to roaring into action Down Under in Melbourne in a little over two months' time, with former grand prix ace Mark Blundell tipping the 26-year-old for world championship glory.

The regular Crash.net columnist and erstwhile McLaren, Ligier and Tyrrell driver - who had accurately predicted Massa's Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen would seal the honours last year - believes there is still more to come from the young Brazilian, who triumphed three times in 2007 and only slipped out of title contention at Monza when his suspension failed ten laps into the race.

"I'm going to put my money on Felipe Massa for this year's world championship," Blundell asserted. "I think he has a talent that has not quite been untapped yet; there's still a lot more to him.

"He has matured a great deal, and has certainly come on with his driving from what we saw in his early days at Sauber. His temperament is right, and he has the confidence now from having been there [at Ferrari] a couple of seasons.

"Kimi wanted to win the world championship so desperately, but now he has done it I'm not so sure he has the same drive and determination to do it again. Massa will have that drive."

As to the situation at Ferrari's arch-rivals and his old team McLaren-Mercedes, the ITV F1 pundit was similarly forthright, questioning how easy it would be for Heikki Kovalainen - a man whose raw speed he said he rated as on a par with Raikkonen as the quickest within the sport - to adapt to a team that Lewis Hamilton has made almost his own. He also criticised the behaviour of former double world champion Fernando Alonso for the increasingly fractious and destructive atmosphere at Woking over the course of last season.

"If you cut Lewis open he has McLaren International written down the middle of him," Blundell argued, "but he [Alonso] could have handled the situation better. I've never seen a driver destabilise his own team like that before."

 

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