This year its different. Both men have made several blunders, and when the dust settles in Brazil next Sunday it is these moments that will leave the runner-up wondering just which was the one that cost him the crown. We take a look back at Lewiss lapses and Felipes faux pas…
Massas 2008 campaign gets off to the worst possible start when he spins on the opening lap at Albert Park. He then collides with David Coulthard during a failed passing attempt on the Scots Red Bull before retiring with engine failure.
Things go from bad to worse for Massa in Sepang when, having started from pole, he again spins himself out of contention barely halfway through the race.
Hamilton blows it when he selects the wrong start procedure on the grid and activates his cars anti-stall mechanism at the wrong moment. Running into the back of Fernando Alonso on lap two compounds the error and he finishes 13th.
A lucky escape for Hamilton, who picks up a puncture after swiping the barriers on lap six. The team switch him to a one-stop strategy as a result, which ironically helps him to win the race.
Hamilton goes from hero to zero when his race ends in near-comedic scenes in the Montreal pit lane. Failing to see the red light, he runs into the rear of Kimi Raikkonens Ferrari, putting both men out of the race and earning him a 10-place grid penalty for the following French round.
Eager to compensate for his grid penalty, Hamilton straight-lines the chicane as he completes an early pass on Sebastian Vettel. The stewards deem the move illegal, handing him a drive-through penalty, and he comes home 10th.
Both Massa and his tyres fail to get to grips with the tricky conditions at a rain-hit Silverstone. He trails home 13th and last after surviving five spins.
Twenty-five seconds are added to Hamiltons race time after he goes straight across the chicane just prior to passing race leader Raikkonen. He briefly surrenders the place, but not to the stewards satisfaction and he drops from first to third as a result, with Massa inheriting the win.
Hamilton gambles on standard wet tyres at the start of Q2, but when the rain worsens he is left stranded, just 15th on the grid. The race sees him recover to seventh.
Polesitter Hamilton out-brakes himself into Turn One, running Raikkonen off the road. A drive-through penalty is the consequence. Massa is handed an identical punishment for tipping Hamilton into a spin at the chicane while trying to pass his rival.
A quick count-up reveals it is Massa who has made the fewer unforced errors, yet Hamilton still leads the standings. Part of the answer lies with the Ferrari team and their F2008. Its engine let Massa down not only in Australia, but also in Hungary - Hamilton has suffered no mechanical failures. And then there was Ferraris botched Singapore pit stop, which, through no fault of his own, saw Massa exit the box with fuel hose still attached. Race ruined, he finished 13th.
Will another critical error affect next weekends Interlagos race? Massa will have to hope so - and that its Hamilton who comes unstuck. Reliability issues aside, its probably the Brazilians best chance of becoming champion…