Date:Thursday March 21 2013
The transformation of Felipe Massa over the past year has been nothing short of remarkable.
Massa's form had been quite frankly, terrible since returning to the sport following a near fatal crash in qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.
Prior to his crash the Brazilian had been a regular front runner, in 2008 Massa won six races, finished on the podium ten times and narrowly missed out on clinching the 2008 F1 World title to Lewis Hamilton.
In 2009 he had six top ten finishes to his name and a third place finish before the injuries he sustained in Hungary forced him to miss the remainder of that season.
He of course made a wonderful recovery to get behind the wheel again in time for the following season, but he just didn't appear to be the same driver.
Whilst Fernando Alonso was winning races, Massa was struggling to even score points. He was well off the pace of his team-mate and scored just five podium finishes in over fifty Grand Prix's.
No-one thought he would remain with Ferrari for long and less than 12 months ago it was widely thought that Massa would be competing in his final season with the Ferrari.
A number of drivers had been linked with a move to join Fernando Alonso. McLaren's Jenson Button, Red Bull's Mark Webber and Mercedes Lewis Hamilton were all linked from time to time and when Massa began the 2012 Formula One World Championship in terrible form, it only seemed a matter of time before the Brazilian would be off.
Part way through the 2012 season there was even rumours that Sergio Perez could make a mid-season move from Sauber to Ferrari.
The Brazilian himself said he would only join a competitive team if he left Ferrari and with limited options on the grid available, it looked increasingly likely that Massa would walk away from F1 if Ferrari replaced him.
But just when it looked like his time had come, he rediscovered his form and enjoyed a fantastic second half of the season, with the highlight coming from a second place finish in Japan.
That was his first podium since October 2010, almost two years had past [35 races] and it was clearly an emotional time for Massa and his team.
A third place finish followed in Brazil and other podium chances came and went while Massa was supporting Fernando Alonso's title challenge.
He signed a new one-year extension with the team whilst rumours of Ferrari signing a pre-contract agreement with Sebastian Vettel for 2014 circulated around the paddock.
But whatever the future holds for Massa beyond 2014, it's great to see the 2008 Formula One runner-up back on pace.
'The way I started the season last year is impossible to compare to the way I've started the season now. I feel much better in the car. Massa told Autosport Magazine.
'I feel much more like I'm driving the car in an automatic direction. I feel much more comfortable and much more relaxed.
'I think the situation is much better. It's much more positive.'
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Date:Thursday March 21 2013
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