Felipe Crasha on road to redemption at Red Bull Ring today?

Felipe Massa has qualified on pole for today’s Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Austria today. It represents the hitherto high point of a season in which his Williams team has promised much but delivered less. Will Massa bring home the bacon this afternoon? Or will he succumb to the pressure and choke? Hugh Podmore looks at the case…

Felipe Massa is an enigma of a driver. In 2008 he was at the peak of his powers, having learned from the great Schumacher, having taken the fight to Kimi Raikkonen and emerged on top. Then came his accident at the Hungaroring in 2009 and popular wisdom has it that he hasn’t been the same driver since. Maybe not. But he has shone, and still has that ability to shine. It is no accident that he has comfortably had the measure of highly-rated Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas this season – nor is it serendipity that he found himself in potentially a race-winning position in Canada last time out.

Ah yes, thought we’d have to get to that sooner or later – the elephant in the room. Canada 2014. Massa was very well-placed to win the race when the two Mercedes began to falter. A number of Williams insiders are reported to believe it was virtually his to lose, and lose it he did. His crash into Perez at the end, therefore, was a kind of frustrated lashing-out at the world because of his own failings with tyre management, opportunity-taking and incisive, race-winning speed when it mattered the most.

And not only that; it was bloody dangerous too. And it was Massa’s fault. Why? Because the following car always has much more responsibility for avoiding an accident, because he can see much more than can the leading driver. There was categorically no need for Massa to be that close to Perez, and even though the Mexican may have moved slightly in the braking zone, it would not have been enough to cause an accident if Massa had been positioned responsibly.

So crashes apart, will Massa triumph today? While has not shown consistently the kind of mental resilience required at the top level in this sport, we can’t exclude the possibility of a one-off barnstormer, the like of which he has produced before. I would bet against it though…

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