x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Massa remaining upbeat for race

He is Brazilian, he is a Formula One driver, but that is all the comparisons Felipe Massa wants with Ayrton Senna.

The Ferrari driver Felipe Massa prepares for the 2008 British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
The Ferrari driver Felipe Massa prepares for the 2008 British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

SILVERSTONE // He is Brazilian, he is a Formula One driver, but that is all the comparisons Felipe Massa wants with Ayrton Senna. After winning in Magny-Cours last weekend, the Ferrari driver became the first from his country to top the championship standings since Senna. But he admits there was no extra emotion, no extra celebration at matching the feat of his late, great compatriot. In fact, Massa remains focused, single-minded on the task ahead; staying in front to win his first title. Remind you of someone? It is something he obviously picked up in his one season in 2006 with his former teammate Michael Schumacher, his "teacher". "It was a great moment to match Senna's achievement, but anything else? No," he admits. "There is no comparison with us. He is the best driver ever along with Michael. It's very difficult to say who was the best; they are a similar level. Senna is Senna, what else can you say? "But there's no comparison with him and other drivers. He is an example of a great driver and you want to remember him as a kind of the best-ever. "I am trying to do things he did, learn things that he did, but it is also completely different times so you cannot look at what Senna did and try to do the same. "I prefer to remember more Michael because we raced together and I learnt a lot from him. He was a great teacher." Schumacher will no doubt be pleased to see his pupil finally make his mark. If Lewis Hamilton thinks he is getting a hard time from the critics, spare a thought for Massa. It has not been easy for him in the Ferrari hot seat. Armed with the best car in Formula One, people automatically expect him to be fighting it out for the drivers' title. Third in 2006 behind Fernando Alonso and Schumacher, fourth last year behind his new teammate Kimi Raikkonen, all eyes were on him to see if he could make the step up this season. So after failures in the first two races in Australia and Malaysia, the knives were being sharpened again. His job was on the line and Fernando Alonso touted to replace him at the end of the season. Massa is used to that pressure ever since he joined the team two years ago. He kept his head down, kept working and now sits proudly in front as he goes into today's British Grand Prix. You could forgive him if he had said something unkind and unsavoury to those who discounted him. O ye of little faith. "The most important thing was I had a team that supported me 100 per cent," adds Massa, looking for his fourth win of the season on a Silverstone track where he is yet to claim a podium finish. "Even if you don't have a good start you always have the next race. I kept saying one day the win will come and it came. That is why the most important thing is not what you read or listen, but what you feel you are doing with your team. "You have to have belief and my concentration is on my job not what people say. It's true I have not been consistent because I didn't score any points in the first two races, but now I am so I want to continue that. But the next race can be different." That latter comment serves as a warning and the reason why he is not getting carried away by his current lofty position. With 10 points separating Massa from his rivals Robert Kubica, Raikkonen and Hamilton, he knows it could all change in one race, but hopes that will not be the case today. A right rear wheel problem meant he lost time in yesterday's qualifying and will start in ninth on the grid. Despite that setback however, Massa says he is still feeling good. "For sure I am in the best moment in my career, definitely," he said. "I am doing what I love to do in my life and I am in the best team. But you always want more. You see what you have, but you still want more. "That's why we have to keep going and working. I will try do my best and in this position you can't say you are not ready to win the title. "You are, but I still think it is too early to think about the championship. There is still a long way to go so the approach is very much the same. My dream is not to lead the championship, but to win the championship. "I am still confident for today (Sunday). I still have belief that I can score points. You never know what will happen in the race, especially if it rains. The car was not as competitive yesterday and we will find out why." The title race is competitive and while Raikkonen, the current world champion, looks his biggest threat, Massa is not discounting the challenge of his other rivals. "We have four drivers with a small gap between us; all my opponents are competitive not just Kimi," he added. "With three drivers chasing you it is more difficult. If you have a bad race you can have three drivers above you so that's why it is a very difficult championship this season. "There are four leaders so you cannot think you have won anything at this time. We know things can change very quickly so we have to do what we have been doing to stay there. "It is nice to be first, but we still have a long championship to go. Even if I was fourth, or 12th or 13th like after the first two races, it does not matter. We need to adopt the same mentality and same way of working day by day. "In racing if you have a bad day you are not the leader anymore so you should not change anything. I have done the same at Silverstone as I did in Magny-Cours."