Given his incredible success throughout the year and the competitiveness of the Red Bull, Felipe Massa feels that Max Verstappen can afford to take chances in a wheel-to-wheel duel with Lewis Hamilton on the track this year.
During the Italian Grand Prix weekend, the Brazilian driver told RacingNews365.com that he feels Verstappen is the favourite for the title this year.
Massa says, "Verstappen has been faultless this year, I have to be honest I can't even remember when the Dutchman made a mistake"
He continues, "You could say that the crash with Lewis at Silverstone, for example, was a mistake, but it wasn't. The incidents between Hamilton and Verstappen are a logical consequence of the title fight."
In order to keep up the psychological pressure on Hamilton, the former Ferrari driver, who lost a title race with Hamilton by a single point in 2008, said Verstappen has to maintain racing with boldness and danger on track while in combat with Hamilton.
Massa comments, "Verstappen can and must take risks when he takes on Hamilton, that is also possible because they are both fighting for the title,"
He adds, "It is especially important for him not to take risks when he has to pass drivers other than Lewis, then he has to stay calm. When he is in a duel with Lewis, though, he can take all the risks to get ahead of or pass the Mercedes driver. When I look at how Verstappen is doing now, I think he is mostly on the same footing and has to keep that going. Everything works for Verstappen this year, how he races himself, but also the strength of his team and the car in his hands. A title fight also means a psychological battle and that's why you have to stay focused. Every point can make the difference and that is why Hamilton and Verstappen will continue to fight for every point, because in the end one point can make the difference in the battle for the world title. I have experienced that myself, of course!"
While Massa's career overlapped only briefly with Verstappen, at the conclusion of 2017 the Brazilian left Formula 1. However, after having ridden the Verstappen circuit between 2015 and 2017 for three seasons, it was clearly apparent that the attitude and skills of the young Dutch driver were substantially improved.
To conclude, Massa states, ""Looking at that period and now, you see above all that Max has become a complete driver and that he has become very focused. As I said, I can't remember Max's last mistake and that says enough about how strong Verstappen is. He is and has done very well this season and has everything in his hands to win the world title."