Sunday, August 7, 2011

Felipe Massa - classic F1

Ferrari's Felipe Massa is the latest driver to choose his five all-time favourite grands prix for BBC Sport's classic Formula 1 series. The idea of this series is to whet your appetites for the race coming up. And, for better or worse, the Brazilian will always be linked with the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Massa produced one of his best performances at the Hungaroring in 2008. An intense battle with Lewis Hamilton ended when the Englishman's McLaren suffered a puncture, seemingly handing victory to Massa. But, with only three laps to go, the engine in his Ferrari failed. The points from that win would have made the Brazilian world champion that year, rather than Hamilton.

The following year, Massa suffered a terrible freak accident in qualifying for the same race. He was hit on the head by an errant spring from the car of his friend, Brawn driver Rubens Barrichello, and taken to hospital in, what doctors called, a "life-threatening but stable condition". Amazingly, he made a full recovery, returning to Ferrari for the start of the 2010 season.

Massa, like many Brazilians of his generation, grew up idolising the late Ayrton Senna, so it comes as no surprise that three of his five choices feature the former world champion. The other two reflect key moments in Massa's own career.

Massa's choices are as follows, in chronological order:

The 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix

It was a quite brilliant drive from Senna, who was recording his first victory in his home race. He held off the faster Williams of Riccardo Patrese despite spending a significant portion of the grand prix struggling with no fourth gear. He also lost the third and fifth gears in the final two laps.

After taking the chequered flag, Senna had to be lifted from his car, exhausted and in agony. When he finally did make it on to the rostrum, his face contorted by a mixture of pain and unadulterated joy, he sent fans - and the country that loved him - wild.

The 1992 Monaco Grand Prix

This was the race in which Senna brought to an end Nigel Mansell's dominant start to the season, although the Briton would go on to claim the championship.

At Monaco, like the five races before it, Mansell and the ground-breaking Williams-Renault FW14B were controlling the race before a late pit stop caused by a loose wheel nut put him behind Senna. Mansell tried everything to pass in the closing laps but was beaten by Senna's guile and experience in the tight confines of the track.

The 1993 European Grand Prix

The one race that has come to epitomise Senna - and therefore the inevitable choice by any driver who is a Senna fan.

The race at a wet Donington Park has passed into F1 folklore. A quite brilliant first lap lifted Senna from fifth at the first corner to first by the last - and he proceeded to drive at a higher level to the rest of the field on his way to one of the greatest of his 41 wins.

The 2006 Turkish Grand Prix

This was Massa's first F1 victory, an impressive and dominant performance from the front after taking pole position ahead of Ferrari team-mate Michael Schumacher.

Dig below the surface, though, and it was not quite as impressive or dominant as it looked. This race is often held up as evidence that Massa was occasionally fast enough to get on terms with Schumacher, who was in the final year of his first F1 career.

That's what it looked like from the outside. But Schumacher would have beaten Massa to pole, despite a higher fuel load, had he not made a mistake on his qualifying lap.

In the race, too, Schumacher was on target to win until the advent of the safety car meant Ferrari had to 'stack' their drivers in the pits. The German rejoined behind Renault's Fernando Alonso and failed to get past the Spaniard for the rest of the race.

The 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix

Massa has chosen this because it was his first win at home - and it was a victory that was as dominant as it looked. He took a comfortable pole and never looked like losing the race, winning by 18 seconds from Alonso, who claimed his second consecutive title.

The action was all behind them - and it centred on Schumacher, for whom this was the last race before retirement. The German, whose faint hopes of winning the title ended when he suffered an early puncture, fought back from 18th to fourth to end what turned out to be his first F1 career in style.

Highlights of the race, not broadcast since the day itself, are embedded below. Beneath them are links to short highlights of last year's Hungarian Grand Prix.

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The classic grands prix will be available on the BBC red button in the UK as follows:

Satellite and cable viewers will be able to watch them from 1500 on Wednesday 27 July until 0850 on Friday 29 July.

On Freeview, they will be shown from 2200 on Wednesday 27 July until 0600 on Thursday 28 July, from 2110 on Thursday until 0245 on Friday 29 July and again from 0435 until 0600 on Friday.


Ken Downing Bob Drake Paddy Driver Piero Drogo Bernard de Dryver Johnny Dumfries Geoff Duke

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