Massa looking for Budapest boost
Felipe Massa returns to the Budapest scene of his darkest hour in Formula One this weekend intent on launching a revival in form that will help him safeguard his future with Ferrari.
The 32-year-old Brazilian, who suffered life-threatening head injuries during qualifying at the Hungaroring four years ago, remains upbeat despite a poor run of recent results. He believes it is consistency, rather than speed, that is critical to his results as he seeks to re-assert himself alongside two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso in Ferrari's bid to bring an end to Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel-led domination.
"I know what I have to do," said a determined Massa. "I just want to get the results. For me, the pace is there so I don't need to worry about that. "I have shown pace, but things have happened to make me not finish the races... I just need to concentrate on keeping the pace and I know that if nothing happens then I can finish in a good position."
Massa's personal struggle will be one of the most interesting issues to study at the Hungarian Grand Prix, the final race in the first half of the season before Formula One takes its now-traditional summer break.
The slow, dusty, tight and twisting Hungaroring circuit, set in shallow hills 25-kms north of the capital, has been a regular venue in the championship since 1986 and has developed a reputation akin to Monaco without the glamour or the barriers. The track has 14 corners and only one real straight and it will represent a challenge to the teams in contrast to the remainder of the high-speed tracks used in Europe.
The main test will be for the new Pirelli tyres developed to debut at this race after passing a severe examination in testing at Silverstone last week - and their performance in high temperatures may be the decisive factor in an intriguing weekend.
Championship leader and defending triple world champion Vettel, having at last won a home contest at the German Grand Prix three weeks ago, will be bidding to tick off another missing race win - Hungary and the United States remain unwon by the German - and extend his lead before heading to the beach. But he can expect a strong challenge not only from his Red Bull teammate Australian Mark Webber, but also Briton Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, a three-time Hungarian winner in 2007, 2009 and 2012.
One more win would draw Hamilton level with record-holder German Michael Schumacher on four victories. Alonso, too, has warm memories of the Hungaroring because it was here in 2003 that he won his first race to be come, at the time, Formula One's youngest race-winner, a record now held by Vettel.
Briton Jenson Button of the struggling McLaren team also won his first race in Hungary with a dramatic triumph from 14th on the grid in heavy rain 2006.