Is Massa actually the ‘next big thing’ in F1?

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We discussed the finishing position of Williams at the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday and while they’ve slid a bit and allowed Ferrari to jump them in performance, one thing that is a storyline coming out of the team for me is the battle between Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas.

Bottas is being touted as the next big thing in F1 and I will admit that there are days when he reminds me of Mika Hakkinen on track and the way he drives. I think he’s very special. He did put a great pass on his teammate in Malaysia on the penultimate lap and he is quick.

All that said, he’s not consistently leaving Massa for dead in a ditch and that has me wondering just how well his career might fair in Formula 1. If you are being touted as the next big thing, you’re going to need to start beating Massa every single weekend.

Massa had his moments with Schumacher and Alonso but for the majority of the time together, he was beaten by his world champion teammates. Bottas was out qualified and beaten in Sunday’s race in China.

That’s not to say that we should panic on Valtteri’s behalf but perhaps the reason could be Massa himself. According to Rob Smedley, the Brazilian is having a second coming:

“I think one of the biggest changes that I have seen in Felipe over the last year-and-a-half is not only where he has got his head to – so he’s very comfortable with himself and with his surroundings now – but I think technically how he is managing the tyres is really, really impressive,” said Smedley.

“He knows what to do with the tyres, he knows what corrective action to take.

“He knows how to get them working in qualifying and he knows how to make them last in the race as good as any particular car will allow him to do.

“What we are seeing at the minute is definitely the best Felipe Massa that we have seen, definitely as good as 2008.”

While we think Bottas is a man to watch, perhaps Massa is the next big thing? If Valtteri wants to get the best shot in F1, he’ll need to up his game and beat the best Massa the sport has seen…according to Rob.

Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT

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Mr. Obvious

Consider the source. Isn’t this the same Rob Smedley that’s been Felipe’s BFF and biggest fan for the bulk of his career?

MIE

Massa took a long time to recover from his accident in 2009, and just as he was getting ready to win again he was told to pull over for Alonso. Maybe it has taken him a year at Williams for his confidence to build knowing that he won’t automatically be asked to give way to Bottas?
It is a shame that his renewed performance has coincided with a drop in the team’s competitiveness.

Carinni Kwong

Usually the difference between team mates is around 0.2s, mass’s dominance in china is more than normal. To be wc, car is more important, so no hope for bottas or massa, what a shame to both driver

jakobusvdl

I’ve long wondered how significant the 2009 head injury has been to Massa’s driving career. He was points away from being the WDC in 2008, the injury nearly killed him, and after he came back, he was inconsistent, and / or had naff cars.
It would be great to see him live up to his potential, even if it makes Bottas look not quiet so stellar.