Massa Claims Alonso Is No Better Than He's Had Before: Is He Right?

Antony Herbert@LeeUwishWritingAnalyst IIIOctober 6, 2010

SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 24:  Felipe Massa of Brazil and Ferrari prepares to drive during practice for the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 24, 2010 in Singapore.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

In moralistic terms the worst aspect of this year's Formula 1 season was the denial of victory for Felipe Massa exactly a year after his Hungarian accident.

Here was a driver who had taken a defiant stance in the face of adversity. When the piece of Brawn went inches from his eye he could have thrown in the towel then and there.

Yet he chose not to.

He did, however, find himself partnered in his full return with double world champion Fernando Alonso as a teammate.

And today Felipe proclaims that he will not be another Rubens Barrichello for Ferrari. In his view, when the 2011 season begins he will be an equal to the man who now seems to spearhead Ferrari's hopes of driver glory.

One of Massa's most adamant proclamations is the mention of Alonso in comparison to his former teammates. He states that Fernando "is not better than my other team-mates."

Some would see this as an idea born out of fantasy, whist others will revel in the Brazilian's renewed optimism.

But is Massa in a position, or will he ever find the circumstance, to beat Fernando Alonso throughout a whole racing season?

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In his early seasons at Sauber the Brazilian partnered teammates such as Nick Heidfeld, Giancarlo Fisichella, and Jacques Villeneuve. For much of this time he did play second fiddle, although it has to be said that in his final season he was a good match for Villenueve.

Of course back then we all knew Felipe to be slightly reckless and prone to the common racing incident. He built himself a negative reputation of inconsistency.

Then things started to spark up with his surprising move to Ferrari. Many felt the drive was undeserved for someone who had shown little legendary potential so far in his career.

Michael Schumacher, in the latter stages of his own career, saw Massa as the perfect   protégé, however, and took him under his wing,

Felipe learned a ton from the seven-time world champion, and both his reputation and speed behind the wheel improved.

Two wins towards the end of his debut season at Ferrari in 2006 gave him some momentum to build upon. When Schumacher retired and Kimi Raikkonen took his place, Massa proved his worth on many occasions. Yet it was still Kimi who took the title in his first season at the Tifosi.

It was in 2008 that Massa came into his own. He finally laid down the foundations for a furthered run and almost took the title in Brazil.

Since then, sadly, he has seen a slight decline, one which led up to his accident in Hungary.

Massa still has some way to go, though.

It is easy to argue that Alonso is the strongest teammate he has ever had to tackle.

Heidfeld was always consistent but not revolutionary. Fisichella and Villenueve simply did not cut it, and then former Champion Michael Schumacher became his teammate when he was already past his peak.

We can argue as well that Kimi Raikkonen did not fulfill his true potential. His motivation was not always there, and he should really have dominated Massa in a more productive fashion.

Now Massa finds himself in an awkward position. He is on a team which has taught him so much and has turned him from an unpredictable entity into an efficient and sometimes excellent competitor.

Yet Ferrari's decision to name Alonso as his new teammate has put the development of Massa's career in jeopardy. Few are surprised that Alonso has instated himself quickly into the lead role.

Even despite some early mishaps, Fernando was quick, powerful, and most importantly, he was driving like a former champion. His recent consecutive triumphs highlight his abundance of warranted credentials.

In Massa's defence we can say that he is still recovering from his accident. Yet even he should not deny that Alonso is the most difficult teammate he has had to face.

If he can come to terms with a more realistic approach, then he can force himself into a better direction and hopefully to a more successful 2011 campaign. Conversely, underestimating Alonso could prove costly.

Unless things do improve, you have to feel that Massa will never become a Champion with a teammate like Fernando Alonso. This, for someone who came so agonisingly close two years ago, may indeed be a travesty.

Yet it may be also be one for a driver to require a better car beneath him and a weaker teammate besides him to achieve World Champion status.

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