In 2008, Felipe Massa shocked most with a very competitive season in the Ferrari F2008. Such was his performance that the Brazilian often outclassed his world champion team mate Kimi Raikkonen, and managed to take the championship right down to the final corner of the final race at Interlagos. The Brazilian driver didn’t quite make it, but many people up and down the pitlane were impressed with the effort. With a new season almost upon us, can the Finn restore the balance at Maranello?
Kimi Raikkonen is considered one of the greatest drivers to have graced a Formula One car, and with 16 poles, 17 wins and 35 fastest laps to his name, there is little doubting his ability. Kimi finally took the world championship in 2007 and raced all last season with the number 1 emblazoned on the front of his Ferrari. The season started well for Raikkonen, but for many reasons it didn’t work out as well as previously and dominant wins from Massa left the reigning champion wondering where it was all going wrong.
To his credit, Felipe Massa really improved his form last year. Although the Ferrari was thrown off the road a few times, Massa appeared more mature, better prepared and down right racier than before. To take control of the team when pitstops were going wrong and the star of the team was off-form is admirable. But was it all a fluke, or can Massa repeat his performance in 2009?
The new car, the Ferrari F60, has caused some concern around the Formula One fraternity, but with masses of experience on their side, the Scuderia should still be in a position to win. And just as they did in 2008, the opportunities afforded to each driver will be equal to begin with. Raikkonen started 2008 slightly stronger than his team mate, Massa retiring in the first two races. An accident in Monaco and being hit from behind while in the pitlane in Montreal saw no points fall to Kimi. The Finn didn’t win a race after the fourth round in Spain, where as Massa was only just getting into his groove.
Raikkonen knows how to win a championship, having come so close with the McLaren and final achieving the title in the Ferrari. His car control is second to none and after a poor result in 2008, I’m sure Kimi will be fired up for this year. Massa has less experience of putting a championship together, but he would have learned a lot from last season. He will be fired up from the very first grand prix and will want to maximise his points haul in the early races.
So who will come out on top in 2009; Kimi Raikkonen or Felipe Massa?[poll id=”31″]