Praise for Hamilton on his debut season
After spending a couple of days in Tokyo, after the deluge in Fuji, Felipe Massa faced the media in Ferrari press hospitality area - a building perched on stilts in an ornamental pond.
One of the highlights of the Japanese
GP was Massa's last lap dice with Robert Kubica. The Ferrari man was asked what he recalled about it. "I remember it very well," began the Brazilian. "I was trying to catch him on the last lap. I caught him and passed him in turn six and then he passed me again. After that, every corner was exactly the same as we kept overtaking one another for the whole lap. On television, viewers only saw the very end but we had been fighting much earlier than that and it is a great memory to have. We were both fighting in a very honest but aggressive way and I enjoyed it."
A race here on Sunday and another in Brazil and then the championship is over, but as far as Massa is concerned, the Japanese result put an end to his title aspirations.
"The position in the championship is that my hopes of taking the title are over. I already knew before last weekend it was going to be very difficult because being 20 points behind at the time was a big gap. Only a miracle could have changed things. But I am not concerned about that now. My main concern is that this year, our team has had some ups and downs which our main rivals did not have. That put us behind in the championship."
"But in terms of our potential and our car, we had a good year in terms of having some very good races in a very competitive car.
Unfortunately, we were not one hundred percent consistent, finishing every race in the way that, for example, Hamilton did. When a championship is as close as this, you can see that with Alonso for example not finishing one race, that already put him quite a bit behind in the classification."
Like most of his colleagues, Massa is a fan of the Shanghai circuit. "I like this track which is very interesting," he said. "The key is to have a very good car that combines good top speed with excellent downforce so that it is easier to find a compromise between these two elements, and to be able to work the strategy well. I think we can be very competitive here and I am looking forward to trying to win the last two races."
Asked for an assessment of his rival, Lewis Hamilton, who is in a position to win the Drivers' title this Sunday in his rookie season, Massa gave this generous assessment. "I am not so surprised at how he has done as we had been able to see his pace in testing. But to put together wins and to fight for the championship is very difficult. But he brought all his good experience from winning the GP2 series last year and of course, he is in a very competitive car. He has been very consistent, which has been the key to his year."