Posted on March 4, 2009
Massa gets creative | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1

Felipe Massa has been doing a lot of thinking over the winter judging by some comments he made on the official F1.com site in an interview today.

Massa thinks that the races are too long and boring and also that teams and drivers should make more of testing, make it more of a spectacle and encourage crowds and sponsors to come along. The unspoken part of this is that he would like to do more testing miles during the season as, like many people, he feels that the ban on testing from the first GP to the end of the season is not a great idea.

“I have some ideas that maybe the race can be slightly shorter, because in the last 15 laps nobody really cares about the race any more, ” (mmm…what about Brazil last year, Felipe?)

“And as we have seen that Friday is not so important for the show, we could extend the Saturday morning a bit and take away the Friday altogether. In addition to that, we could do two, three or four (test) sessions during the season – not together but separately – and make a ‘testing championship’ and the winner could take a bonus for the championship. Like that, you could have a lot more sponsors following the testing, and of course more media. Maybe we could have a nice practice in the morning and a big qualifying (type session) in the afternoon. I think if everybody gives his opinion and brings together some good ideas, we could make a good championship all together. ”

Having opinions and bringing ideas to the table is precisely what the Formula One Teams Association has been doing and they will report their findings tomorrow at a press conference I will be attending. Autosport is saying that we will be treated to an overview speech by FOTA president Luca di Montezemolo and then speeches on the technical side form Ross Brawn, the sportng side from McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh and the commercial side from Renault boss Flavio Briatore (“I belieeeeve we need bring down cost, make more show…” and so on.)

Back to Massa, he did a long interview with Donald McRae in the Guardian newspaper yesterday, where he got all poetic while reflecting on how he lost the world championship in the final kilometre of the season.

“When I won I didn’t know what to believe. Was I champion or not? I knew something unpredictable was going to happen. It was like I was in a big bubble. I was driving around the track and I could see people were screaming and jumping up and down. But I was not quite sure what it means. It was very unreal. It was insane.

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  1.   1. Posted By: Robert McKay
        Date: March 4th, 2009 @ 6:47 pm 

    I find myself being a tad disappointed in Massa’s comments. It’s good that he’s trying to think of new ways to create interest, but decreasing the amount of RACING and putting greater emphasis on testing, I mean really?

    What F1 over the past few years has done successfully has gotten away from the incessant testing and, with much gnashing of teeth, stopped throwing quite as much money away endlessly pounding round deserted tracks the week before the race, popping up at the weekend of the race and doing no practice because they did 200 laps of the track 5 days ago. And its the fans that paid for their GP weekend ticket wondering why they bothered.

    It seems to make sense to me that if it is really expensive to design and build a car and go racing, then use it in anger as much as possible, so have more racing and less testing.

    If you properly utilise the time on Fridays you can “test” then anyway. The big disappointment this year is that, with the inseason testing ban being a good idea, they’ve slightly spoiled it with the new engine rules bringing Friday back under the banner of engine mileage conservation. That’s a missed opportunity.

    Testing is good in a purist way but you can replicate that within the grand prix weekend much better. And it’s going to be quite hard to create public interest in a test session, which is basically a very very long practice session. Qualifying struggles as it is to get a fraction of the viewers for the race, which is what people are really tuning in for in the main.

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  2.   2. Posted By: guy
        Date: March 4th, 2009 @ 7:23 pm 

    I think it would improve the show if all drivers had to get ‘pissed’ after every race. We could have the media covering it and points for last man standing. (leave it out fernando… he’s not worth it, and so on). As a scot i’m sure coulthard would have picked up some valuable points.

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  3.   3. Posted By: F1 Boston Fan
        Date: March 4th, 2009 @ 7:26 pm 

    “I went out and got pissed – in the circumstances what else are you going to do?”

    Laughed out loud at that one.

    “in the last 15 laps nobody really cares about the race any more”

    When was the last time he watched a Formula 1 race? I would say that people care about the first and last 10 laps.

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  4.   4. Posted By: Stephen Russell
        Date: March 4th, 2009 @ 8:00 pm 

    My admiration for Massa multiplied when I watched how he handled the events of Brazil last year. He was a true sportsman and his graciousness in defeat was to be highly commended. I therefore wish him well for the new season.

    That said, from all I have heard about how Ferrari have worked on this new car, it is clear they are bending over backwards to make it a car Kimi can be comfortable in, and one he can show his class in. That suggests that they clearly see him as their best hope of challenging Hamilton.

    So will Massa be able to continue to raise his game and get over last years disappointments and challenge again for the title?

    It is but another of the fascinating side stories to the new season!

    BRING IT ON!!!!

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  5.   5. Posted By: john g
        Date: March 4th, 2009 @ 8:05 pm 

    i agree (with james, not felipe). i have long thought that friday should be an unlimited test day, two cars out there, test drivers or race drivers, non-race engines. all the equipment and the people are there already, it’s basically free testing (compared to external test sessions).

    plus, it will be something to reward the die hard fans who give up a day of work (at least) and spend a lot of money to spend a weekend at the track. they could even open up all the grandstands and paddock to an extent and make it a really enjoyable day for everyone.

    also, to make F1 more accessible, i reckon they should have a little superkart race in the afternoon on the friday between all the drivers. no prizes, just for fun. but that’s never going to happen :(

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  6.   6. Posted By: jose
        Date: March 4th, 2009 @ 9:08 pm 

    I don’t know what felipe is talking about. So nobody cared about the last ten laps of last year’s bazilian gp, or the last laps at the nurburgring, 2007.
    This brazilian drivers, should be banned to open their mouths. only senna and fittipaldi came up with something interesting to say.
    Allen i don’t see you talking to much about alonso. Are you in talking terms with him? or is he still upset with you about the 2007 mclaren affair?

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  7.   7. Posted By: david
        Date: March 4th, 2009 @ 10:32 pm 

    if you had a hungary or a brazil, you’d probably want the races to finish a few laps sooner too.

    i agree with john g’s agreeing … rustle up another two test-only engines, plus whatever the team has left from pre-season (and any used ones from their 16 race engines that might have a little life in them) … and go testing on Friday.

    two sessions, one for the race drivers to practice in the morning, and one reserved for test-drivers to get some wheel time, and for trying out the young ‘uns.

    … obviously you’d prefer to avoid some over-eager ex-GP2er smashing up vettel’s or hamilton’s race car, but they’d probably have the wick turned down, and the car can get rebuilt overnight if required i s’pose.

    cars, trucks, third-drivers are already there. i think they need some extra track-time to try and fix KERS, the wrong front/back balance, and the whole 2010 tyre snafu; and lots of noisy cars doing laps for the paying punters on Friday … y’know “the show”, or instead, we could spend our time watching cars sit on jacks, everyone waiting for everyone else to blink and waste their precious engine miles on a dusty track.

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  8.   8. Posted By: James Allen
        Date: March 4th, 2009 @ 10:34 pm 

    JA writes: Jose, I don’t know how oftten you come here but if you take a look you’ll see I write about Alonso as much as any driver.

    I’ve always got on well with him since his Minardi days, I speak to him two or three times per weekend at Grands Prix, so I’m not sure what you mean by him being upset about 2007…?

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  9.   9. Posted By: Keith Collantine
        Date: March 4th, 2009 @ 11:48 pm 

    Make races even shorter? A testing championship? I hope we never see Massa in charge of the FIA.

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  10.   10. Posted By: George
        Date: March 5th, 2009 @ 1:03 am 

    I’m not sure where Felipe got this idea that GPs are too long, personally I find them about right, plus the longer they are the more chance there is of something unexpected happening. The ‘testing championship’ idea seems a bit strange too, how would that be judged?

    I hope he can continue his good form from last year though, he’s pretty interesting on and off the track.

    Have fun at FOTA tomorrow James, hopefully Flavio wont bore you too much.

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  11.   11. Posted By: LoudHoward
        Date: March 5th, 2009 @ 2:21 am 

    I wrote a little article on Massa’s comments on above site (shameless plug), basically saying we need to increase the action on the race weekends. Punters are paying so much to fund the CVC-Bernie-Track money cycle, they should be getting a lot more than they do now. More F1 on race weekends.

    Fridays should be free engines again, maybe have a 15 min shootout at the end of the 2nd practice with a prize or the drivers racing for a chosen charity and FOM will give 100k to them or something, great PR and something cool as well. To make it interesting for the big boys, whoever’s on top gets an extra set of softs for qualy or something.

    Races should be longer not shorter, cars are more reliable now, and if overtaking is a tad easier it could be more interesting. Can you imagine Monza being 15 laps shorter? What a joke!

    As for testing, who really thinks that having a mid-week test qualifying session or whatever in the middle of nowhere is more interesting for the fans than taking Friday off from work once a year to watch the cars test and leadup to the race.

    Pre-season testing should also have live timing and maybe some cameras with live internet streaming setup but that’s a whole different issue really!

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  12.   12. Posted By: Glen D
        Date: March 5th, 2009 @ 8:09 am 

    Massa clearly hasnt thought about his idea properly.

    He should try telling the fans who spend lots of money going to the GP’s that friday is pointless and is not happening and that the race should be shortened by 15 laps.

    Take friday away and 25% of the race away and in my book it would make the whole point of going to see a weekends race action totally pointless!

    No wonder he lost the championship. Must have been spending time coming up with silly ideas like that!

    I’m all for having 2-3 fully attended 4 day tests with 2 cars from each team but taking away from the race weekends will just annoy the fans

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  13.   13. Posted By: guy
        Date: March 5th, 2009 @ 8:20 am 

    surely if you shorten a race it will still have 15 laps at the end!

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  14.   14. Posted By: balint
        Date: March 5th, 2009 @ 8:35 am 

    haha….and with shorter races you would still have the last 15 laps (unless the races are shorter than 15)!!!!

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  15.   15. Posted By: Scampy Doodles
        Date: March 5th, 2009 @ 9:36 am 

    The mind games have begun! Excellent.

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  16.   16. Posted By: H ROBINSON
        Date: March 5th, 2009 @ 9:38 am 

    I’m not a Ferrari fan, but I certainly admire Felipe Massa, after seeing the way he sportingly handled the situation at the Brazilian GP. And while I was happy at the outcome at the time, in retrospect, it was a cruel result for Felipe and his family, and hope he will become WDC sometime in the future, as he ,more than any other driver, deserves it.

    He is certainly a CHAMPION SPORTSMAN.

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  17.   17. Posted By: Ben G
        Date: March 5th, 2009 @ 10:35 am 

    Massa’s concern about testing may reflect his struggle at the beginning of last year to adjust to the post-traction control era. He strikes me as a driver who takes time to adjust to new technology or driving styles. My money would be on him making a faltering start to this season, and then improving as he finds the best way to handle new grip levels.

    PS – James, a word of warning; don’t get drawn into a “you don’t say enough about Alonso” row. If those Alonso fans get too upset they’ll start bombarding you with comments saying you’re anti-Spanish, as happened with Ed Gorman’s blog over the last two years.

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  18.   18. Posted By: Alastair
        Date: March 5th, 2009 @ 12:33 pm 

    LOL@Ben G. Ed Gorman’s blog is brilliant… BECAUSE of the Spanish fans there.

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  19.   19. Posted By: guy
        Date: March 5th, 2009 @ 3:08 pm 

    I thought I should just say that JA always writes impartially about all drivers. Although I’m a Hamilton fan Alonso is the most complete package on the grid at present.

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  20.   20. Posted By: Beka
        Date: March 7th, 2009 @ 10:52 am 

    There is so much attention towards massa… I really do not think he is realy a top driver. Out of the first four we have, Hamilton, Kimi, Alonso and Massa, he is the weakest imho. This season will be very important for him as well. If he still performs better than kimi he will deserve the status of the top pilot however i have serious doubts that in equal conditions he can do that.

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