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Rob Smedley: Felipe Massa as good as he was in 2008 F1 title battle

Felipe Massa is performing above the level he was when challenging for 2008 Formula 1 drivers' title, according to Williams performance chief Rob Smedley

Massa finished a point shy of Lewis Hamilton in the world championship just over seven years ago with Ferrari, then missed the second half of the 2009 season through head injuries sustained in Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying.

He could not repeat his 2008 highs after returning for the '10 campaign, but has enjoyed a career resurgence since joining Williams two years ago.

Smedley, who was Massa's long-time race engineer at Ferrari before also moving to Williams, said the 34-year-old had recaptured his best form.

"He's as good as that now. He hasn't lost anything," he told Autosport.

"He's better now because he's got more experience.

"In 2008 the tyres were so much better relatively, and the racing was different in that it was flat-out sprints.

"Over the last two years he's understood how to use the tyres much better.

"We saw both drivers doing massive stints on the medium tyre in Mexico, and Felipe probably degraded a little earlier than Valtteri [Bottas] but for them both to do that at that pace is f**king impressive."

Smedley attributed the Brazilian's switch to Williams as a factor in his return to form.

"The biggest revelation for some of the paddock was probably 2014, when he started to get a lot of results again," he said.

"Valtteri is clearly a massive talent for the future and started to deliver, and all of a sudden you've got Felipe absolutely keeping him honest. They're absolutely at the same level.

"Felipe's always been that good, but I think he just finds it comfortable here.

"He's a person that needs respect, he needs to be valued, and he needs to be listened to.

"They are three fairly basic requirements, so the better question is not why we can get the best out of him but why other people couldn't?"

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