Write Better English - Day 11

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The battle for the championship is tight this year, but Felipe Massa has moved himself into contention with a textbook combination of speed and damage limitation. Adam Cooper spoke to Massa's race engineer Rob Smedley about the Brazilian's season.

Not surprisingly, Lewis Hamilton's latest drama occupied most of the headlines after the French GP, which was perhaps a little unfair on Scuderia Ferrari.

Clearly the grid penalties for both Mclaren drivers gave the Italian team some breathing space come the race, but nevertheless the one-two finish was an impressive performance.

We will never know how hard Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen (who qualified heavy in an effort to make up for his penalty) would have pushed the Ferraris in a straight fight, but the likelihoood is that the Italian team would have won anyway, such was the pace of the red cars on a track where it has been so successful in the past.

Incredibly, since the place was built in 1991 Mclaren has won only once at Magny-Cours, with David Coulthard in 2000, while Massa's victory was the eighth at the venue for Maranello. Not bad when you consider how uncompetitive the team was over the first four or five years of that period ...

What might just have been different had the Mclaren not been handicapped was the outcome of the second place. After Kimi Raikkonen suffered his broken exhaust, Jarno Trulli was never in a position to put any real pressure on the Finn, but Hamilton or Kovalainen would certainly have been a lot closer in a straight fight, and we might have had something quite exciting to watch.

Just as the pitlane crash robbed us of a potential thriller in Canada, so those penalties denied us a great contest in France.

The sighs of relief in the Ferrari camp afterwards were all too apparent, and one look at the pictures of the heat blast damage on the back of Raikkonen's car proves just how fortunate he was to make it to the end. What's more, he did it without losing his second place.

Excerpt from autosport's feature ~ Felipe Massa: Chasing Shadows