Teams and drivers have an assortment of mental tricks and techniques for self-control.
''The moment you have done one mistake, you have to accept that mistake,'' said Alexander Wurz, a former F1 driver who now coaches drivers. ''If you are bitter about it even for one more corner, usually you do another and another and another mistake. But that is so easy to say in this interview and so difficult to handle out there.''
The biggest disappointment happens when a driver loses the lead of a sure victory, as Massa did five laps from the end of a race when Alonso passed him. Damon Hill lost the victory at the Hungaroring in 1997 in the final lap, after his car broke down. But drivers also create a psychological tool out of that to prepare for all eventualities.
''Nothing is decided until the checkered flag,'' said Hill. ''You might be in the lead, but while the race is going on you haven't won. So it's a psychological trick to just not count any results until they're signed off.''
Wurz said a driver applies such reasoning at other moments as well. Before qualifying when he might fear making a mistake at a critical moment, he said he has a dialogue with himself to return to a sense of reason, reminding himself that he has done the job hundreds of times and that cool-headed professionalism will carry him through.
''It's an endless challenge against your own brain,'' Wurz said. ''Every sport is: golf, tennis, even 100-meter sprints - where you think it is only due to the sheer power output - they have to be right in the brain too. Especially in Formula One it is very much brain-driven.''
In Formula 1 the driver is constantly in radio contact with his team. Graham Taylor, who was sporting director at the Super Aguri team, said there were different approaches to communicating with a driver to keep him focused.
''You can do the arm around the shoulder, big brother type thing, or you can do the dictator,'' he said. ''But normally, especially at this level where you're at the pinnacle of your abilities and of your co-worker's abilities, there's a huge level of professionalism.
''You don't ever do it in a mollycoddling sort of way,'' he said. ''You do it in a matter of fact, professional way. You give them an order. It's like being in the military.
''You just relay mechanical information. If you see his times dropping away, where he has emotionally invested in the situation, you say, 'Pick your pace up.' Some engineers can be quite nice. But I tend to give a more mechanical approach, and expect them to be at the top of their professionalism. You're paying them to do a job, they should do the job.''
Unlike other sports, however, drivers often can make the excuse that their car is not as fast as an opponent's car. That is what Massa said after being passed at the Nurburgring after it began to rain a few laps from the end of the race.
''It's a little bit frustrating when you dominate the race, when you just have an easy gap that you just have to control, and then suddenly the rain comes,'' Massa said. ''I was not really worried about the rain because the car was very good at the beginning of the race in the rain. I was just worried when I changed tires and the car was vibrating so much and I couldn't drive the car.''
''You generally know if you're punching above your weight and you're doing a good job or you haven't delivered for yourself and someone's got past you because you've made a mistake,'' he said. ''You know if you could have done a better job or if it was inevitable.''
The team also has an idea since there is a teammate for comparison.
''If we feel the driver isn't giving the maximum, we won't do it at the race track, we'll do it at home - over a cup of tea or something like that,'' Taylor said. ''There's no point in having a slanging match trackside because everybody's got to perform.''