In a sport dominated by numbers, science and wind tunnels, Rob Smedley and Felipe Massa showed the importance of a relationship can still outweigh all

Felipe Massa was fast. Arriving in Formula One in 2002 he built himself a reputation of being incredibly quick when keeping the car pointing in the right direction, but having a distinct tendency to leave it facing the wrong way. Despite his mistakes, but because of his potential, Massa secured his dream move in 2006 by signing for Ferrari. 

Success in F1 is rare. Of the ten teams that line up on the grid it is likely that only two or three have a genuine chance of winning the race. Because of this, victories are often either miraculous anomalies or somewhat expected. A driver moving from a midfield team to a leading one is likely to go from having never stepped on the podium to suddenly being expected to win races regularly. This was the case for Massa and it was a pressure he struggled with. In his first four races for Ferrari the mistakes that had so far tarnished his career reappeared, and whilst they had been accepted in an up and coming talent in the sport, critics were far less forgiving of a driver in the famous red of Ferrari. Being put in a faster car may well have lifted Massa’s ceiling from being top of the midfield to top of the podium, but the lapses in concentration, and occasional off-circuit excursions, remained.

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