Massa and Hamilton favourites for Formula One titleAugust 25th, 2008 - 10:38 pm ICT by IANS
Valencia, Aug 25 (DPA) The close-fought race for the Formula One driver’s championship is developing into a two-way contest between Britain’s Lewis Hamilton and Brazil’s Felipe Massa.Massa’s victory in Ferrari team in Sunday’s European Grand Prix in Valencia coupled with teammate Kimi Raikkonen’s spectacular engine blowout has left the Brazilian in the driving seat at Ferrari.
The win saw him climb up the drivers’ standings to within six points of Hamilton, whose status as top gun at McLaren has never been in doubt.
With just six races to go, the sport’s two dominant drivers have been engaging in psychological games in a bid to gain an advantage over the other.
“Consistency is the key to the championship,” Massa said in Valencia after his ninth victory in 100 Grand Prix races.
Hamilton, who went into the race suffering from a neck spasm and ended up finishing second, took a dig at Ferrari because of its mechanical problems.
“As you can see consistency is the key. Finishing and gathering points has to be the goal. I’m not concerned about the reliability of our car,” he said.
Mercedes Motorsport boss Norbert Haug took the same view, saying “reliability and speed are the deciding factors in winning the championship.”
Defending champion Raikkonen’s engine trouble has sent alarm bells ringing at Ferrari, coming just three weeks after a broken piston rod deprived Massa of almost certain victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
“It is a serious problem,” said Ferrari’s racing director Stefano Domenicali. “We need to do everything in our power to find out the cause and resolve the problem of reliability in the races ahead.”
Raikkonen’s tally of 57 points, 13 less that Hamilton’s 70 and seven behind Massa’s 64, has put him out of the running — at least for the time being. His last Grand Prix win was four months ago.
Domenicali sought to calm his driver’s frayed nerves and promised his team’s full backing for the Finn. “We have absolutely no doubt about Kimi’s ability to deliver,” he said.
Massa said he felt for his teammate because of his own experience in the Hungarian Grand Prix. “After the disaster in Budapest this victory was doubly welcome,” he said.