Ferrari driver Felipe Massa seems to have returned to the type of form which saw him go so close to winning the World Championship in 2008 as the Formula One bandwagon rolls into Malaysia.He enjoyed an excellent qualifying session on Saturday which saw him secure second spot on the grid, behind Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.
His team-mate, Fernando Alonso, is third on the grid, re-affirming Ferrari’s early season dominance after the Spaniard finished second in the season opener in Australia last weekend.
As for Massa, he finished fourth and is looking sharp in the early stages of this year despite a couple of disappointing seasons in recent years.
The Brazilian’s first step into Formula One came back in 2002 with the Sauber team where he had an average debut season and found he was dropped for the 2003 campaign with Heinz-Harald Frentzen being preferred.
Felipe enjoyed two fairly successful season in the following couple of years, scoring 12 points in 2004 and 11 in 2005, a decent tally for a midfield team.
However at the end of the season, he was released by Sauber but following Rubens Barichello’s departure from Ferrari the Italian team decided to appoint him to accompany Michael Schumacher.
Massa’s first season at Ferrari was a promising one by all accounts, securing his first podium finish with a third place finish at the Nurburgring in Germany.
He then took his first F1 victory at his home Grand Prix at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo and helped him to finish the season third in the driver’s standings.
Massa won three races in the 2007 season in Bahrain, Spain and Turkey as well as securing six pole positions as he went onto finish the season in fourth place in the standings.
The 2008 season was Massa’s most successful season to date which saw him miss out on the driver’s championship by a single point.
He won six of the 18 races that season including the final one, again at Interlagos and seemed to be about to clinch the title but Timo Glock had tyre problems at the last corner as the rain began to fall harder, allowing Lewis Hamilton to take the title by a single point.
The start of the 2009 season was a difficult one for Massa and Ferrari with teething problems causing reliability issues with the car.
However disaster would strike for Felipe at the Hungarian Grand Prix when a loose piece of suspension from Barrichello’s car struck him on the head causing him to lose consciousness and hit the barrier at high speed.
His condition was initially described as “life-threatening but stable” but after undergoing an operation at a Budapest hospital, his condition rapidly improved but missed the remainder of the season.
He was able to return for the 2010 season but finished a disappointing sixth, as was the case in 2011 as he struggled on his way to recovery.
After terrible start to last season’s campaign, there was plenty of speculation as to whether Massa would keep hold of his seat but after being awarded a new contract, he finished the season strongly, scoring points in all ten of the last Grand Prix’s, including a second place in Japan.
Felipe will be once again aiming for a first win since 2008 in Sunday’s race at the Sepang Circuit, which begins at 8am British Time.