We are half way through the official testing season and there are many interesting story lines emerging. Everyone is looking to get a feel for who’s ahead, but as I posted a few days ago, I’m inclined to believe the engineers I speak to who say that it’s looking pretty close and there is no outstanding car this season.
I have to put my hands up and say that I am one of those who doubted Massa originally. But the character he showed in Brazil in 2008, when he had the world championship snatched from his grasp, combined with the way he has improved steadily as a driver since his early wayward outings with Sauber have won me over.
So it has been a delight to see him so strong these first two tests. Yesterday he did 160 laps, the equivalent of two and a half race distances in one day; an unprecedented amount, totalling 700 kilometres as Ferrari again showed tremendous reliability.
We do not know yet if they are a fraction slower in outright pace than perhaps the McLaren, but we do know that the car looks bulletproof; almost 2,000 kilometres covered in four days at Jerez and Massa feels brand new,
” I thought I might be more tired than I am, ” Massa said on Saturday night. ” I don’t think I’ve ever done that many laps in one day, it’s a personal record! Physically I feel fine, I’m in good shape. We’ve had a good test and we have got a couple of good leads for the development of this car.”
Although a quick car is a must to have a chance of fighting for the title, Massa hinted that this year, with the rules stipulating no refuelling stops, he sees the competitive advantage possibly lying in a different place from normal. It’s not about outright pace, in other words, it’s about having a car which qualifies well on low fuel, but then goes out on race day with 160 kilos of fuel and runs consistently fast as the fuel burns off and the tyres degrade,
“Now the fastest car isn’t the one which is on top of the timesheets, but the one which is the most consistent and which has the best performance over the course of the long runs,” he said. “From this point of view, we have got some very positive results.”
Massa will be back in the car for the first two days of the test at Jerez this week, on the 17th and 18th.
It’s great to see him back.