A brief glance at the standings is all it takes to realise than Felipe Massa has been comprehensively overshadowed by Valtteri Bottas this season.
The Brazilian’s departure from Ferrari following eight campaigns was timely, coinciding with Williams’ return to the ascendancy.
Yet one wouldn’t realise this looking at Massa’s points haul alone to date – 30 from the opening ten events. Bottas, meanwhile, has gleaned thrice this number, and is rapidly closing in on third in the standings, courtesy of consecutive second places following his maiden podium at Austria.
Massa has endured his share of misfortune, outcomes at Melbourne and Silverstone were out of his control, but he has to assume some responsibility for the events of Montreal and last weekend at Hockenheim.
The 33-year old is particularly guilty of apportioning blame at the feet of others this season, notably before a review of an incident has been conducted. Whether this is a defensive mechanism, a misinterpretation of the rules or something completely different, his tendency to linger on actions which are in the past is hurting his season.
Massa was quick to condemn Kamui Kobayashi after he ran into the Brazilian on the opening lap at Melbourne, demanding a race ban for the Japanese. It was later revealed the Caterham driver had suffered brake failure.
He crucified Sergio Perez for their final lap collision at Montreal, remarking that he would “not trust him anymore”, in what was best termed as a racing incident.
Most recently, he pointed the finger squarely at Kevin Magnussen for his spectacular first corner flip at Hockenheim, despite evidence suggesting the Dane had nowhere to go, and Massa’s racing line as much to blame.
Pole position at Austria was a wonderful reminder that the man who for thirty seconds was 2008 World Champion is still there, but these appearances have been far too fleeting.
That he was only able to finish fourth – some time adrift of his team-mate, suggested his return to the top was more of a flash in the pan than a genuine renaissance.
To that end, Massa has registered points on just four occasions, with seventh place accounting for three of these outcomes, whilst his Finnish counterpart has failed to score just once, and is growing in stature with each event.
In the Brazilian’s favour, he did a splendid job of averting catastrophe at Silverstone by triggering his brake-by-wire system instead of collecting a stricken Kimi Räikkönen side-on. It is these kind of incidents which haven’t helped Massa’s cause this season, nevertheless it shouldn’t be an excuse.
With a package firming as the best of the rest following Mercedes, Massa should be – if not besting his clearly talented, future World Champion team-mate, aiming for a top five result each weekend.
If nothing else puts Massa back on track, whispers that Fernando Alonso is a potential suitor for Williams will be music to his ears. The Brazilian will likely never forget the four years spent in the Spaniard’s shadow, the irony of a re-coupling, or even making way for the man wouldn’t be lost.