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Massa – well and truly back in business
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Massa – well and truly back in business
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Feb 2010   |  6:12 pm GMT  |  181 comments

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.

Massa confers with the incomparable Rob Smedley (Photo: FerrarI)

Massa confers with the incomparable Rob Smedley (Photo: FerrarI)


Looking back over the first two tests, though, I am struck by a human interest story most of all. Felipe Massa is back in business. In fact so strong has the little Brazilian been over the last two weeks, that it’s almost as if everyone has forgotten that he is coming back from a potentially career ending injury and the doubts people had about whether he’d be the same driver as before.

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.

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181 Comments
  1. Erik ( Brazil ) says:

    He´s a tough little guy, 700 km in a F1 car on one day is no mean feat.

    1. CHIUNDA says:

      In Paris-Dakar maybe but in F1, 700kms is not something you thumb your chest about – i mean that is no more than a 2-3 hour drive on a good road! But that is not to put down Massa in anyway – i think he is doing a wonderful job and McLaren are well adviced to be very worried and take nothing for granted (i am sure they already are but hurts nobody to remind them :=))

      1. Rupinder Singh says:

        Chiunda, I don’t know what road you are on when you say that you will cover 700 km in 2-3 hours. Are you saying that the avg speed will be between 233-350 km/hr? You should be in F1 then!

        I also disagree when you say that 700 km in an F1 car is nothing to “thumb your chest about”. This is an F1 car, not an airconditioned limo. 700 km is a lot. I have heard of drivers dehydrating after races. Massa ran more that two races at top speed. No mean feat!

      2. bernie loves $$$$ more than slavica. says:

        2 or 3 hours!!! 700 km. I would say you missed some math classes when you were younger.

      3. krad says:

        wow you drive really fast as even at the upper limit of your estimate your still averaging 140+ mph. Do you live in Germany by any chance?

      4. CHIUNDA says:

        My point is that it is a doable feat – nothing to praise a professional driver about and definitely i am not convinced its a measure of fitness among drivers ie even the worst of them could do that easily – including Piquet, Badoer etc.

  2. Carlm21 says:

    He’s my man for the title. Brilliant qualifier and has beaten Schumacher and Raikkonen. Gets better and better each season as a driver and deserves to end this season as world champion. At 9/1 for Massa its worth a punt, even if its just a fiver.

    1. Chris Hill says:

      I would love to see Filipe win the title, a nicer bloke inthe paddock is very hard to find, and still probably the most underated driver out there (most pundits always forget about him and have already written him off against Alonso)

    2. Simon says:

      When exactly did Massa beat Schumacher? In 2006 Schumacher had 121 points and Massa had 80. That is a huge margin, and Massa will need a massive car advantage to even trouble Schumacher this year.

      1. Paul Kirk says:

        I dunno about that, Sonny.

      2. opposite lock says:

        at the turquish gp 2006 i imagine.

      3. Hayden L. says:

        I think he/she just meant it by certain races…

        That he outperformed Schumacher in a few GPs, which to some people, might be a surprise as his Sauber days created a not so good impression…

        Perhaps even to the extent that such a small number of good performance over Schumacher was unexpected…

      4. DanielC says:

        You forget that was Schu’s team for a long time that car and team was built around him, considering Massa was still learning a lot and I think 06 was his first year in the team that 80 points isn’t terrible. I’m not the biggest Massa fan, but I think the Massa of this year will be much different than the Massa of 06.

      5. Racehound says:

        ……….on the other hand Alonso has beaten Tricky twice to the title, so that should say something about who is the stronger Ferrari driver thios season! #:)

      6. F1-Fan says:

        Alonso will beat him.

    3. TM says:

      Massa beat Schumacher? Yeah right and Kovalainen beat Hamilton, lol.

  3. Irish conor says:

    Me too James it’s great to see. By the way James were excatly do u rate massa in the drivers out there today

  4. Josh says:

    I hope that this is a sign that our little old Massa is back to his best, 700km in a day is impressive! I’m not sure there are many people who would begrudge Felipe a world championship, he’s a true hero!

  5. Benny boy f1 fan says:

    Hello James,
    A few posts back you talked about betting odds, have you seen anything from this testing that has made you reconsider which odds are good? I have put a bet on hamilton to out qualify buttonat ever round at 40 : 1! Also how many hits does your website get?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not sure about every round. Hamilton for champion is a fair bet at this stage.

      1. Freespeech says:

        As far as we can bet on anything *I too would put my money on Lewis Hamilton, his driving in the second half of last year was by far his best to date and he’ll only be stronger because of it and with luck Jenson will push him that fraction more.

      2. Antoine says:

        Hi James,
        When Shumacher was reigning, we had 2 German grand prix (1 European) and 2 Italians, since Shumacher who is German was driving for an Italian team. The same thing happend when Alonso won 2 world title (Valencia). Now with Hamilton and Jenson being Champion, do you think if Hamilton wins this year England will be the next country to host 2 grand prix?

      3. Racehound says:

        ha ha ha ….NO!!! Thers only 1 track in UK fit to hold Gps, and thats Silverstone! Poor old Donington got stuffed by the recession and losing Tom Wheatcroft!!! #:(

      4. John F says:

        The way things were going in the past with the British GP, it will be an achievement just to keep one race here over long time.

  6. Mani says:

    Yeah welcome back Massa. I was a Mclaren/Kimi fan (now Mclaren/Lewis) and when Kimi moved to Ferrari I thought the only time Kimi would see him was in his rear-view mirrors, how wrong was I and many ‘experts’? Massa is living proof that there’s two kinds of drivers: 1. Drivers who’re born with talent 2. Drivers who can absorb the talents of others like Massa has from Schumacher/others like Ferrari Engineers. 3. Nelson Piquet!

    Massa knows how Schumacher and Kimi drive and now Alonso! He’s in the league of elite drivers, congrats.

    1. Freespeech says:

      Yeah but Kimi was never the driver at Ferrari he was at McLaren.
      He could have been one of the greats but there is just something wanting in his makeup.

      1. Martin P says:

        Something wanting in Kimi’s makeup? Why would you say that?

        He seems to have a very simple and very effective attitude… winning is all that matters, so if you can’t win why bother trying? I can relate to that.

        Kimi strikes me as a man very happy to be the driver he wants to be, not the driver you want him to be.

      2. Dale says:

        Kimi seemed to come alive last year once Massa had a layoff due to his accident up to that point Massa was at least his equal so I know what Freespeech alludes to and obviously Ferrari weren’t happy or they wouldn’t have dumped him for Alonso would they?

      3. Thalasa says:

        I would’nt praise Kimi’s laid-back attitude given he gets paid the insulting amount they get. I’d go for Alonso/Massa’s attitude (for example). Much more professional and fair.

        I never understood why Ferrari hired Kimi, I imagine they wanted to advertise their icecream. I wouldn’t be very happy as his employer. And they are still paying him a beautiful sum for not racing!

      4. Steve Mc says:

        A good quality eyeliner, perhaps?

  7. Daniel Mz says:

    It’s great to see Felipe back!!
    He is proving to everyone he can be a world champion one day (maybe 2010) and he is not afraid of any team mate. He is feeling very confident and he will be a very dificult oponent to Alonso.
    The Ferrari car is looking incredibily consistent and it looks like they can look after its tyres very well. It will be an interesting season with so many competitive cars and good drivers, but I will put my money on Massa. Felipe Massa and Rob Smedley a great combination!!!!!!!!!

  8. Mike Vlcek says:

    Hey James, nice blog! I just found out about your site, it’s pretty good.

    I have a F1 blog as well and today I published an interview I did with Patrick Head last friday at the Lotus car launch in London.

    Were you there? If yes, it’s a shame I didn’t know about you before.

    Let’s keep in touch!

    Cheers
    Mike Vlcek

    1. James Allen says:

      I was there. Thanks for checking out the site

    2. David says:

      ‘didn’t know about you before’

      lol, sounds a little patronising, I don’t believe that.

      1. Mike Vlcek says:

        Really didn’t know, cos I’m not english and moved to UK recently…

        Anyway, great website.

        cheers

      2. CHIUNDA says:

        surely he must have watched several races on TV to have known about James before!!!

  9. D. says:

    If he could only drive in the rain …

    1. Martin says:

      Such as China 09 or Monaco 08? He’s not brilliant in the rain, but you are letting the Ferrari car design, which didn’t generate heat in the tyres like the McLaren did. The same thing happened in Germany 08 in the dry, where the Ferrari didn’t work in the cold temperatures. Massa’s five spins at Silverstone got more attention that Hamilton’s similar effort in China last year. The reasons were different as Massa had a car that was unsuited to the conditions, while Hamilton saw the rain as a chance to make up for an overall poor car and over did it on a number of occasions.

      Wet track success is lot about set up. Drivers and teams often lose races before they get in the car. Spain 1996 was one example where Ferrari were one of the few teams to put on a full-wet set up on the car. A times Schumacher was four seconds a lap quicker in fairly consistently wet conditions. The gaps between drivers are nowhere near this big.

      1. Werry says:

        Well said Martin. He had one bad race in the wet but he has had several very good ones.

        Massa for the title.

      2. Amritraj says:

        You are forgetting Brazil 2008.

      3. Martin says:

        Brazil, as a wet/dry race is a good example in one sense since it removed the set up guesses from the equation. It was fault-free rather than what I’d call a special drive from Massa. His qualifying performances are such that he rarely has slower cars in front of him, hence he appears less dramatic.

      4. CHIUNDA says:

        let me guess – if you had FIA cheering you on, you would appear stunning on occassion.

      5. Thomas says:

        Funny how people assume Massa is a bad wet weather driver, when he has on several occations proved he is as good if not better than “rain-master” Hamilton. Monaco 08 is a brilliant example; Massa pulled away from everyone while Lewis hit the wall and got a lucky win despite this.

        Somehow Silverstone 08 is everything everybody remembers, but nobody mentions that Kimi (a wetmaster in his own right) spun a million times there as well, or the fact that Lewis was nowhere except spinning around in China last year.

        The final race of 2008 saw Felipe dominating from start to finish in wet/dry conditions, with Lewis and McLaren almost losing the championship again due to rain.

      6. adam says:

        Actually,the McLarens finished a decent 5th and 6th in China last year.
        Massa,on the other hand, was lapped twice and finished miles behind at Silverstone 08
        and fell off the track at Monaco the same year.

  10. rfs says:

    I was never worried for Massa once he was out of danger. Mika Hakkinen had that accident in Adelaide that was at least as bad as Massa’s and he later became a double world champion. F1 drivers are tough cookies, after all.

  11. Scuderia@China says:

    Good to have him back, probably the most unde-rated driver on the grid!

    1. Buck61 says:

      I agree, I hear people telling me all the time that Massa doesn’t have what it takes and to come back but just look at the season before last (he missed the championship by 1 point) and then last season in a car that was not very quick and he was still very competive.

      Massa for cahmp

  12. Buck61 says:

    James
    Do you know what stint lenghts Massa was putting in? Were they short stints like last week?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not at all. The longest was 46 laps

  13. Fausto Cunha says:

    “It’s great to see him back.”

    That´s a feeling that everybody shares.

    It will be interresting watching him going against Schumacher in a different car, his mentor and “brother”, can´t wait for that!!

    25 Days to go…

  14. Christopher says:

    Great article James! Really seem to overlook how great Massa has been coming from a career-threatening injury to being back in the cockpit amidst the excitement.

  15. Dave P says:

    It is no surprise to me… I think you overplay the injury and how it affects the caliber of people you are dealing with.

    To quote Ron Dennis, ‘Racing drivers are competitive animals that know no limits’ they live with danger every day so having an accident that you remember nothing about is hardly going to change your approach.

    The sport is littered with similar incidents:

    Mika Hakkinen – A tracheotomy on the race track – went on to be world champion
    Jacques Villeneuve – Car cut half at a very high speed track, frightening accident – went on to be world champion.
    Nikki Lauda – incredible accident – far far worse that Massa or anyone else – went on to be world champion
    Alex Zindardi – legs amputated – went on to competitive racing
    Mark Blundell – most frightening accident – hits a concrete wall at over 200mph – continued to race

    So can you tell me why Massa is so special? Yes I am pleased for him – its great – but nothing unusual for these types of racers…

    1. Giuseppe F1 says:

      Dave P, which is the Jacques Villeneuve incident you make reference too? Was that in F1 or Indycars as I dont seem to recall?

      1. Dave P says:

        Yeah, it was Indycar, I think it was in 1994 see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBVwaaWIDU0, but I stand to be corrected on that one. ( Maybe by James himself as it was a period when he was over in Indycar) He hit the wall, came back down at 90 degrees, and the car was chopped in half by a car at about 180mph.. very frightening.

        If anything it was far worse, as he was concious through it all. Massa however, remebers nothing about any of it. If you can’t remember then ots difficult to be mentally scared by it. Massa has said the same himself at every interview.

      2. James Allen says:

        I was there that day and I remember it very well. Villeneuve ignored the yellow flag and hit Matsushita’s car side on, splitting it in half. The engine almost decapitated Tracy who was climbing from his car. Incredibly, no-one got hurt. I interviewed Matsushita afterwards and asked if he had seen Villeneueve’s car approaching, “Ah yes,” he said. So I asked what he was thinking and he said, “Very scared… of course!”

      3. Martin says:

        A lot of it comes down to how little we – particularly the general public – know about brain injuries. We were told that Massa was fortunate to avoid serious injury, with suggestions at 10 mm to the right could have been much more significant. Journalists like James are probably familiar with stories like Stirling Moss’s recovery from his 1962 accident. He seemed to make a complete physical recovery, but his balance was affected – he could ride a bike with no hands or his right hand, but not his left hand only.

        I think the potential for the accident to be bad is what sticks in the mind of some journalists and some drivers. Based on some of the things Massa has said, he seems to take a fairly interventionist god/predetermined view of the world. I wouldn’t go quite so far as to suggest that Massa feels this is a sign for him to push on and win the championship – a kind of comeback from adversity – but from an interview I saw post the injury, it is closer to this than a sudden realisation that F1 racing can still lead to you being killed.

    2. Dean Coulter says:

      A head injury is an extremely severe thing. You can live without a finger or leg. History shows that without a doubt. But a head injury is something else.

      As it has been said. Had the impact been a bit to the right or left, he could have potentially died, just as Henry Surtee’s had.

      It’s fantastic to see that this isn’t the case, and that a driver is able to return to racing.

      1. Dave P says:

        I think you missed the point….

        Massa remembers nothing… I mean nothing about the episode… so he has no more fear after the episode than before it.

        Other people such as Nikki Lauda not only remember it, but have the physical damage to remind them of it. Both Nikki and Zinardi have clearly painful reminders but still carried on. So why the fuss about Massa. When he is interviewed about it, you can see the embarrasement to him about the fuss being made.

        It does not matter that it was life threatening… just being in the car is life threatening… its the fact that it didn’t damage him in anyway, and he is as he was…

        The head injury was not a bit to the left or to the right, so why mention it… what if are not what we are dealing with..

      2. CHIUNDA says:

        He must have watched the footage by now which must be alot more scary than if he had remembered the episode all on his own.

    3. Carlos says:

      All of those cases sound pretty special to me, Massa’s included.

      1. Dave P says:

        I think not so much special, as part of what happens in the sport… thankfully most are OK, its just a reality…

      2. David says:

        Show a little respect, champ.

      3. Andy C says:

        Dave p,

        I’m sure you don’t mean to come across as coldly as it reads.

        Overstating the impact of massas crash? He was hit in the head by a several kg spring at 160 mph. One inch either way at it probably would have killed him.

        The key thing about all of those crashes are that most of them could have ended like senna, ratzenberger, earnhardt.

        Claiming that someone would not have any mental impact just because they don’t remember the crash is being simplistic to say the least!

        Yes they are all brave, but I cannot agree with you that it will have no impact on their psyche.

        I think massa deserves a great deal of credit for his recovery and the comeback.

    4. trapped in the eighties says:

      don’t forget piquet and berger’s accidents at tamburello. They were never the same afterwards. They kept racing, but they were not as fast as before.

      1. Dave P says:

        You’re right.. lots and lots of similar accidents…. Massa’s was on the lower end of the scale… only because 1. He is alright 2. He remembers nothing about it….

    5. Paulo says:

      I Disagree with you, what was special about massa accident that it was totally out of the blue. all the accidents listed above were heavy crashes.

      Massa was happily driving along and was struck in the head from a spring out of nowhere, many drivers would be wary of that happening again.

      so I think it is amazing that Massa is up to pace so quickly.

  16. Morris Mao says:

    I am glad Massa is 100% or even more back on track and Alonso has a competent team mate.

    Anyway, the most impressive power show from New Ferrari is still Alonso’s 48 laps driving on Thursday.

  17. Phillip Horton says:

    I think Massa is the dark horse for 2010. People are talking about Hamilton vs Button, Alonso at Ferrari, Vettel and the return of Schumacher but not many have taken Massa into account, kind of assuming that he would play #2 to Alonso which he won’t. He could, in a similar way to Hamilton, make Alonso’s life very difficult – I remember when Fisichella was faster than Alonso at China in 2006 and Alonso complained about Renault not being behind him. That was one race and this year we have 19 where Massa and Alonso could be very close in terms of pace and finishing position.

    1. Morris Mao says:

      Could you remind us the Championship fighting situation at China in 2006? It was Alonso who was in firece fighting with Schmacher, not Fisi.

      I think in 2010, if the same happens, Ferrari will behind the Championship fighting driver, no matter it is Massa or Alonso.

      Alonso complained, it was only something seemed wrong with the team at that time.

    2. Amritraj says:

      You are forgetting something. Alonso lost 16 seconds in space of 8 to 10 laps to Schumi and Fisi at China because of front tyre issues. Fisi was never quicker than Alonso. Fisi just got ahead of Alonso because of Alonso’s tyre issues, and started racing him when Alonso was catching up towards the end of the race.

  18. Dean Coulter says:

    I’ve always been a fan of Massa. Since the first full f1 race I watched actually. But I’ve never been under the illusion that he’s been without his doubters. So to see him develop each year has been fantastic.

    Even though he came tragically close to the title in 2008, it was still a good moment because none the less, many people sat up and took notice. He wasn’t Ferrari’s No2 driver like everyone expected him to be. Something Rubens Barichello could never shake off even after 6 years with Ferrari.

    Hearing bits and pieces from Rob about how hard Felipe works is also inspiring. It’s great to see someone who works so hard to improve, reap the rewards, and I can only hope he takes the greatest reward come the end of 2010.

    1. Sam says:

      Great comment.

  19. Bob says:

    I’ve generally found Massa underated but especially last season. He was outstanding before his accident.

    He was 5th in the standings behind the two RB’s and Brawn’s despite having the car fail on him in points positions in Aus and China. He had Kimi drive over his front wing in Bahrain. He had his team forget to send him out again in Malaysia qualifying. He was underfueled in Spain potentially costing him a podium.

    It wouldn’t have been too farfetched if he finished the season above Webber considering how the Ferrari improved and how well he was doing last season, was clearly the 2nd best driver last season behind Button before his accident.

    1. dd says:

      button was 6th or 7th best driver last year, lucky to be driving a brawn at the start of the season so yeah.

      1. TheGreatCornholio says:

        In your opinion! Certainly not the opinion of the majority of real experts such as James, Martin Brundle, DC and Eddie Jordan to name a few! Totally sick of reading this rubbish about Jenson.

      2. dd says:

        they have to say it because they are/were in close contact with him, so it would be like stabbing ur friend in the back if they told the truth, namely he is 6th-7th best driver.

        dc is even best friends with him.

        and…..surprise..they are british like him!

        talk to experts outside britain who also dont have private relations with button (so totally unbiased experts) and see what they say about button ;)

        anyone who thinks button is better than for instance vettel, alonso, hamilton is truly living in a nationalistic fantasy.

      3. Sam says:

        Well who wouldn’t support their countryman?

        But let’s face it, he isn’t going to beat Kimi in same machinery.

      4. TheGreatCornholio says:

        I didn’t say that Jenson was the best driver last year AND i can see your point about British commentators being too close to say otherwise but you cannot seriously believe he was 7th best last year?? Yes Lewis is a better driver than Jenson but Vettel wasn’t mature enough when he needed to be!

        James, I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts on the your fellow British pundits being too close to the Brit drivers to really say how you feel about their performance?

      5. banned again says:

        if button can be world champion, sure could be massa, no question about it. With the best car of the grid, i forgot to mention.

      6. Silverstoned says:

        Eddie Jordan!!?? expert??

    2. Dale says:

      I think I must have been watching another series as to my mind both Hamilton and Vettel were by far the best drivers, remember Hamilton had until the second half of the season one of the worst McLaren’s ever built yet time after time he drove beyond the car.
      I agree Button was lucky but there again so have many former F1 champions which makes them not less of a champion in the history books does it?

    3. Alias says:

      Where did Kimi drive over his front wing in Bahrain? In Spain he was on for a 4th place. Ferrari didn’t improve they stopped development, there is no way he would have ended up in front of Webber in the standings. Felipe did a good job last year, but lets not exaggerate.

      1. Olly says:

        He was on for 3rd in spain but Ferrari kept bringing him in early because they thought he had less fuel. He had one more lap than Vettel and one more than Webber. He was 3rd for both stints, He should have finished 3rd.

      2. Bob says:

        Yeah, I’m sure he was faster than Webber until he had to slow down to save fuel.

        It was at the first corner in Bahrain, might not have been Kimi but he definitely had to pit on the first lap which put him last.

  20. Ginger says:

    Good skills from Massa, I expected him to be back to his best but I’m not sure that will be enough this year.

    That said I would love to see him put one over FA. It would be nice to see how he reacted to that.

    About 30 days to go, I can’t f**ckin wait!

    Ginger.

  21. Oliver Knight says:

    Great read as always james, wish we had you on the beeb instead of legard, i was wondering if you could answer a query thou? i was out in Jerez for the last two days and on the final day with about ten or so minutes left robert kubica slowed down along the pit straight and pulled a sharp left where the pit wall ends and stopped, just wondered if you know what happened? more engine problems for renualt or something else? Thanks

    1. Daniel Mz says:

      I agree with that regarding to James be comentator instead of Jonathan legard. He is annoying and doesn’t seem to know too much what he’s talking about it.
      James, do you know if the BBC people liked him? Did Martin Brundle like working with him?

  22. Freespeech says:

    I think we’ll really see who Massa is when he goes head to head into a tight bed with Schumacher alongside, I bet when it really comes down to it he’ll give way and he believes deep down that Schumacher is just a better driver and I don’t think he’ll have the courage to take him out if needs be, he’d be thinking about the bad press he’d get etc.
    It takes a very special pupil t beat his master and I haven’t seen that in Massa – Hamilton yes, from day one he took the battle to Alonso and we all know what happened a feat unheard of by a rookie up to this point and as Frank Williams said, people like him come along very very rarely :!:

  23. Ned says:

    Hi James,

    I have a question not to do with the article itself, but the image which accompanies, or rather the caption which accompanies it. You say Rob Smedley is ‘incomparable’; why is that?

    It’s not that I particularly disagree- in fact I like him too, and it’s good to hear how well he gets along with Massa. But is he genuinely anything special? You could argue he didn’t find the right setup for Badoer or Fisichella while they were driving for Ferrari last season

    1. James Allen says:

      As a character he is incomparable. He’s very refreshing, funny and incredibly good at what he does – a real one off. It wasn’t his fault that Badoer and Fisi had problems.

      1. Peter Freeman says:

        In the era of pit lane limiters, Badoer managed to be overtaken in the pit lane! how do you help someone like that?

      2. Flintelli says:

        please! dont make me relive this nightmare! Why he was thrown into the car I’ll never know….! Useless….

      3. Peter Freeman says:

        Nightmare? It was the most entertaining think Ferrari has done in years! Highlight of the season by miles! Overtaken in the pits? Its an all time world record for Ferrari!

      4. Gil Dogon says:

        Hi James, I have a request, and would be happy if you obliged. I think maybe it can be a good idea to a blog entry even, explaining about the role of race Engineers in general. What makes a good race engineer? what is the kind of rapport between engineer and driver that seems so crucial to success?
        It seems that the Massa/Smedley combination worked perfectly. Can you tell us who is going to be Alonso’s engineer for the coming season, and how do you think they are going to work ?

  24. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    James, just saw an interview with you in Italian. Did not know that you spoke the language so well…you kept that quiet!

    Good interview

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, I do some work at the races with RAI TV, where I speak Italian. I did languages at school and it’s always been very useful in F1.

      1. Dale says:

        You mean there are some in F1 that don’t speak English?

      2. banned again says:

        briatore. Oh sorry he is not in f1 anymore.

  25. Hephaestus says:

    I must admit that I never rated massa as a great driver. Although, he still needs to win a fews races starting from the pack or show some skill in the rain to completely win me over, I have to acknowledge the progress he’s made over the years. As for his recovery, I’d rather wait until it counts. when you need to push the car to the limit, to kiss the wall or the barriers to gain those few tens that will make the difference. when I see him battling wheel to wheel against a ruthless driver without backing off I will be pleased to say MASSA IS BACK.

  26. Irish conor says:

    Incidently I think felipe is the best qualifier on the grid with fernando the best in races and lewis the best overtaker. Alonso the best all rounder for me closely followed by kubica and lewis in 3rd place. Massa and vettel joint 4th

    1. Tornada says:

      What is that special about Kubica?

      1. Amritraj says:

        He is special. Just that he hasn’t had the machinery to deliver. I am hoping Renault comes-up with a nice car.

      2. bernie loves $$$$ more than slavica. says:

        overrated because of the podio on his third race at monza if i am not mistaken. It happens sometimes.

    2. bernie loves $$$$ more than slavica. says:

      how can you be so precise. It’s shocking.

  27. dd says:

    at mclaren alonso got beaten by a rookie (im not a hamilton fan, its just fact), and alonso started acting like a lil whiney girl who wanted his daddy to hold only his hand. (here come the alonso fanboys to cry about the fact ;P)

    at ferrari he will be beaten by someone who had an almost career ending injury and recovered from it…because massa has really grown into a very good driver by competing against schumacher and kimi, no one can deny this.

    lets see how alonso will take this. at renault he only raced against avergae to poor drivers, lets face it. and when he got to have a quality driver beside him, he struggles and whines.

    1. Dale says:

      You’re right about Alonso being beaten by Hamilton at McLaren and I think if Massa does beat him at Ferrari that’ll be the end of the myth he’s somehow the best current driver in F1, my monies on Hamilton.

    2. Nest says:

      what a constructive post ….

    3. Mirage says:

      hamilton is mclaren drive rwho cried for daddy to hold his hand, and his dad did when he ran to the stewards at hungary and got the team penalised. hamilton is the driver who cried at monaco after he got dominated and lost. You have been listening the propoganda from the british media who unfairly twisted everything to blame Alonso for everything in 2007.

      british team, british, driver, british media, what do you expect?

      1. dd says:

        i suspect you are spanish? lol. alonso got beaten by a rookie, fair and square. alonso tried to cheat his way out, and whining a lot and then spy gate which he did to damage mclaren etc. he is a nasty personality.

      2. Mirage says:

        Fair and square when hes best friends with the team boss and hes british? lol. Alonso didnt whine but Hamilton did and he also ignored team rules. He cried at monaco after he was beaten and then cheated his team mate at hungary when he ignored team rules, yet you claim alonso was the one who caused damage at mclaren?

        Hamilton incited two FIA investigations against his team in 2007!!

        Try to get your facts straight. Your british I assume?

      3. bernie loves $$$$ more than slavica. says:

        i am spanish. And i think hamilton is faster than alonso over a single lap. The rest they are evenly matched. I like more hamilton’s style, but let’s not be unfair with alonso. He beat the ferrari might in 2006 fair and square. And he was driving against the fia as well.
        I only remember one driver doing that. Senna in 1990.
        I am not saying he is as good as the brazilian. but let’s give him some credit.

      4. Freespeech says:

        I think you need to keep taking your pills mate :)

      5. banned again says:

        he bought them in the internet, i am sure they are fakes.

    4. bond007 says:

      not hamilton’s fan but defenitely not alonso’s :P …. u say massa competed with kimi n schumi but…. may ur forgetting that alonso beat both of them in his 2 championship winning seasons ….. about whining?? …. can’t see wat the problem is? but its definitely u :P

      1. dd says:

        first, we are talking about 2 drivers in same team with same car. thats how u can measure very detailed. not 2 totally different cars ;)

        second, alonso overall during those seasons had a better car than schumi and more reliable car than kimi. kimi was beating him when his car didnt break down, u forgot that ;)

        and it was later decided alonsos car was illegal too, with the damper help. normally speaking renault should have been suspended for both years. u forgot to mention that too ;)

        again, i was talking about 2 drivers in same team with same car. nice tactic to try and twist what was said but alas, didnt work ;)

      2. bond007 says:

        hamilton was favoured by his team …. ron sayin “We are racing alonso” says everyting….. and about having better car…. no driver can win without car….. one can say the same for schumi.. he has won 7 WDC’s … he had talent and gud car ….

        all cars wanted to implement dampers ..but renualt made it possibel others cudn’t …. it was banned they cannot be barred for that …. they have been asked to change the design accordingly … they did it and still managed to win WDC n WCC ….

        to find best drivers we have see his driving.. not “wat he did to team mate” … “wat he said abt others?” ….talking abt drives …. how can one forget how he defended in imola 2005 against schumi’s faster car …. alonso passing schumi in suzuka 2005 twice :o … these r the things to talk abt not things of the track …. n being british doesn’t make evrything one say right ….

      3. bernie loves $$$$ more than slavica. says:

        you are worse than moesley.!!! Any political aspirations? I hope not in motorsports.

    5. Peter Freeman says:

      Well not quite true, Jarno had the handle of him when Flavio booted Jarno out. I do think Alonso is good, but I won’t be surprised if Massa beats him, every indication is there that he won’t walk over Massa at all.

      1. dd says:

        thats correct. when jarno was competing with alonso (even though alonso was being helped more by flavio than jarno), alonso again whined and made jarno leave by arguing with flavio abbout this.

        another example of how alonso is a paper champion.

      2. bernie loves $$$$ more than slavica. says:

        the point you are trying to make is fair at this point.
        We’ll see soon enough. He has the strongest teammate since hamilton. Let’s see how he compares over a season.
        Trulli beat him on quali, the italian strong point, but was worse than alonso on the races, the spaniard strong point.
        Alonso has to make himself the capo at ferrari, if he wants to be compared with the greats. Prost was able to do it against mansell, and at williams against hill. But not everybody can be compared with the great french champion.

      3. Mirage says:

        More lies. Alonso was beating Trulli quite badly in the second half of 2004, long before Trulli was sacked and it had nothing to do with Alonso whining, because they are actually good friends to this day. Trulli was sacked because of a contract dispute and for attacking the team and accusing them of giving him a bad car because he couldnt handle losing to Alonso.

        What you said is a total lie and not true at all.

  28. John Pugh says:

    Calmer than Lewis, faster outright than Michael, more consistent than Vettel, more determined than Jensen and more at home than Fernando.

    Felipe is quite capable of taking the championship if the Ferrari is competitive.

    He’d have an even better chance if Toht was till in charge there.

    1. Sam says:

      Faster than MS?
      I like Massa but that’s incorrect.
      In the 54 qualifying sessions of the 2006 season, Massa was genuinely quicker than
      Schumacher only once – in Q2 at Monza, by 0.128s.
      Micheal’s average advantage over Massa in those 54 sessions was in excess of half a second (fuel corrected).

      1. John Pugh says:

        OK I’m not quite as biased as Rob Smedley (but not far off!)

        I felt that by Brazil Felipe was as quick a race driver as Michael(and that in a race where Michael drove absolutely magnificently).

        Also Felipe has improved even more since 06. He was extraordinarily quick in 08.

        Given the problems with Ferrari he did pretty well in 09 ’till his accident.

        I would never understimate Michael. Maybe I’m just talking up someone who I feel is underestimated.

        I look forward enormously to finding out which of us is right in 2010 – insofar as we can ever know in F1!

        Thanks for replying

  29. Lenny says:

    I truly believe that this guy is world class. He is not just quick but very clever. He is very humble, the only driver who talks to Martin Brundle and is very funny.

    Keep working hard, go and get that title mate, you really deserve it.

  30. Mirage says:

    James do you have any inside rumour on how Alonso and Massa are comparing in pace during testing? I know its just testing but im sure the engineers are eager to measure them up already.

    1. bernie loves $$$$ more than slavica. says:

      evenly matched

      1. Mirage says:

        How do you know??

  31. Satish says:

    dd, it would truly be surprising if Alonso hasn’t learnt his lessons from 2007 and will probably focus more on his driving than this toys/pram if in deed Massa starts beating him.

  32. Sam says:

    Massa may be not the best ever driver, but he’s such a remarkable character.

    He got beaten, embarrassed many times but he kept coming back.

    He got life threatening accident, he will keep coming back and getting stronger and stronger

    I like the way he handled the defeat, the way he conducted with his rivals.

    He is such a lovely guy.

    The sport needs characters like him.

    1. Freespeech says:

      Such a nice chap who took the win handed to him which Mosley’s FIA stole off Hamilton without so much as a blush.
      What Mosley’s FIA did at Spa during that race was in my opinion criminal and at the very least a sportsman would have said something 8)

      1. Sam says:

        Many f1 drivers felt that Lewis gained advantage by using that chicane which was clearly the case.

        Massa and Lewis remained friends after that which meant Lewis didn’t have a problem with Massa’s at that point.

        Oh wait, I am talking to a Brit aren’t I?

      2. Neil says:

        But where do you stop?

        If he (Massa) got the points due him from the rigged Singapore GP, he would be an F1 World Champion!

        Following your logic, he should be demanding these too. Only fair to be sporting in both directions…

        Neil.

  33. yos says:

    Hello James, Massa is back and that is a good news, you seem to have the feeling that Mclaren is slightly faster than fereri if we don’t take other factors of the new season into consideration.

  34. Irish conor says:

    Get a DVD of Monaco 08 canado 08 and brazil 09 just for starters and then autosports review of 08 and mark Hughes has him as number one. Fernando rates him the best lewis sayd he fears kubica getting a competive car. James Allen once sayd that fernando and kubica would be the two drivers he would take if he were a team owner

    1. Tornada says:

      OK, some of his races were good, but he is not consistent driver, as last season showed. And don’t tell me about Canada 08, he got win there only because team ordered Nick Heidfeld let him pass…

  35. Chuck Jones says:

    Just went through all the blogs. Dave P, how did you become such an expert on the mental facilties of racing drivers and the effect of crashes on them. You need to back off a little and get your facts straight.

  36. Paul Mc says:

    Massa’s accident and recent tragic events in Vancouver have shown that modern speed sports are still incredibly dangerous. Its amazing to see Massa back in the car and at the top of the time sheets in testing.

    I think F1 in general would like to see him become World Champion.

    1. Freespeech says:

      Today’s F1 is not dangerous at all considering the speeds they travel. If you had watched F1 over the past 40 years you’d know what I am saying is true. in many ways I think today’s F1 is too safe, any driver who crashed as the Renault cheat did would have been killed.
      I think a little of that gladiatorial spirit has been lost as the cars have got safer and safer.
      Of course it’s not politically correct to say this but nevertheless it’s what I believe so I say it :!:

      1. Dale says:

        Having been a follower of F1 since the late 1960′s I agree with what you are saying.
        Nobody wants to see any driver killed or badly injured but there needs to be a risk element otherwise it just looses a lot of what it should be and in truth I think it has somewhat.
        Schumacher parking his car in the middle of the track trying to cheat his way to pole at Monaco, had he been in an earlier F1 he wouldn’t have dared to do that for the certain knowledge it at the very least would hurt.
        I think F1 is safe enough as it is.

      2. bernie loves $$$$ more than slavica. says:

        I agree , but nothing new. We all think the same. Yesterday i was watching the speed merchants, and andretti was saying the same thing about the seventies and the decades before.
        The society has changed in every respect, and f1 is not going to be different.
        Don’t forget that as a kid, you see things in a different way as well. For me niki lauda was a hero, i thought he was the bravest man on the face of the earth. I was ten. But now i wouldn’t considere him one of my favorites. But the bravest nevertheless.

  37. Owen Hayes says:

    Massa’s a great driver, but I still think that his Ferrari career has been underwhelming and if he doesn’t improve this year he should be given the boot from the team.

    If he is strong this year, perhaps he would be a good number two for Alonso, otherwise its time to get Alonso someone like Kubica to gun for him.

    1. manty964 says:

      I think that is a fair comment nice guy, but a number two driver

  38. Nathan Bradley says:

    Hi everyone,

    Off topic here, but I think interesting to know, does anyone know how loud, in decibels, is the average F1 car?

    I know these will vary slightly due to engine/exhaust setup but does anyone have a ballpark figure?

    Thanks,

    Nathan

    1. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

      Apparently it’s around 150db

      1. Nathan Bradley says:

        Thanks Mike

    2. bernie loves $$$$ more than slavica. says:

      much less tha the 10 cylinders. And nothing like the beautiful sound of the 12 cyl.

    3. Steve Mc says:

      Nathan they are officially ‘kin loud!

      I went to my very first British GP last year, and I was determined to experience the complete sensory overload of Formula One. So I left my standard issue squidgy yellow ear plugs alone, with the intention of watching the whole race with both sound and vision unfiltered (although, to be fair, I didn’t need to wear shades that day, anyway!). I managed to get through to something like lap 40 before I had to put them in – it was beginning to feel as though my head was being cleaved in half every time a car went passed the start/finish line.

      They also sound very cool when they come in to the pits – coughing and spluttering on their way in, then excruciatingly loud when they give it the beans (particularly Lewis) on the way out. And all the time the sound is bouncing and echoing around the pit buildings, grandstands, etc. Absolutely Brilliant!

      1. banned again says:

        just imagine how it was in the past with different engine configurations, and that beautifull sound lamborgini 12 cyl.

      2. Nathan Bradley says:

        Yep, I also have a head cleaving experience. I’m disabled and went to the Spanish Grand Prix this year and you get to sit at the top of the main grandstand, on a special raised platform to allow an unobstructed view. Now, anyone who has seen the main grandstand at Barcelona knows it has a metal roof. When you are sat on the raised metal platform, your head is about 2 feet below the metal roof. I think you can see where this is going. Let’s just say, I couldn’t hear Anthony Davidson on my Kangaroo TV!

  39. AA says:

    I could be wrong, but I think Massa has only ever won from the front row? I’ve never rated him, and not going to start now just becuase hes recovered from a bad crash. Good luck to him, but I’ve never thought he was anything special. Seems like a nice guy though.

    1. Sam says:

      The whole ‘front row’ is irelvant, because Hungary 2008 proved he can so it doesnt matter.

      1. Mirage says:

        Massa has never won a race when he didnt lead at the first corner. So basically without the fastest car on poll hes useless. Without the best car he cant win, unlike great drivers like Alonso.

      2. Femi says:

        And which race did Alonso win with a slower car??

        Nurburgring 2005???
        Singapore 2008?????

      3. Thomas says:

        That might be true, but Felipe Massa has no betters and at best three peers when it comes to qualifying. (Alonso, Vettel, Lewis, if you were wondering). He might not be mentioned with the great qualifiers, but some of the things he did with the Ferrari in 2008 was mind-blowing. His teammate was Kimi, who isn’t exactly your grandpa in an F1 car.

    2. Bob says:

      I don’t see why that stat is seen as such a negative. When he has a race winning car, he normally puts it on the front row. So he’s unlikely to have many races to change that. Unless he fancies qualifying 7th for a laugh.

      1. Olly says:

        LOL, good comment. I agree Massa’s a great qualifier.

      2. Mirage says:

        And when he doesnt have a race winning car he cant win. Most of the grid can win in race winning cars you know. Thats not a big achievment.

      3. bernie loves $$$$ more than slavica. says:

        it’s like button. They can win from the front, but driving in the pack it’s a different story. And tell me what are the chances that button will have the superior car he had last season.
        There is nothing wrong at being fast on a single lap, but you can’t be second class on traffic, to challenge for the world championship.

    3. bernie loves $$$$ more than slavica. says:

      you have a heart of stone. He is fast on a quali lap, and tries hard. Let’s keep an open mind, and see what he can achieve on 2010. He had very good teammates, and looked very well against them. I was like you a few years back, but he won me over with his good performances, and the accident of course also helped.

  40. Hephaestus says:

    Regarding Massa’s relationship with his teamate, I don’t think Alonso will make the same mistake. What top team would hire him if he did? Although he is a very talented driver, I believe that he knows his reputation and would probably want to prove people wrong. He’s very proud (as is massa)and would like to beat Massa on the track. Very good battle ahead.

  41. Midnight Toper says:

    Dave P, Head injuries are very serious and few people make full recoveries. Felipe has made a remarkable recovery thus far. Do not forget that his vision was impaired and he had to undergo plastic surgery. Add to this the impact it would have had on his wife and family.

    It’s easy to comment from the comfort of your armchair, in my view his recovery should not be compared by anyone other than a fully qualified neurologist with all the facts available.

    To state that his recovery is overplayed is rather contentious.

    1. trapped in the eighties says:

      we as fans just need a few races to see if he is were he was as a driver. it’s the only thing for us.
      To do a normal life it is clear he has recovered.
      He is the kind of driver that get’s into the fan’s hearts step by step, and the accident just made him even closer to some of us.

  42. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    James, a question for you. Any feedback from the teams on the weather situation at Jerez this week?

    Looking like being even more than a washout. Can any changes be made to the schedule?

  43. Pablo says:

    11 Wins. At all 11 he was on the front row. For 9 of them he was leading by the end of the first lap and only lost the lead during pit stop phases. France ’08 he was second until Kimi had car trouble. Belgium ’08 was given to him by the penalty against Lewis.

    I’ve been impressed by his development since joining Ferrari, and he can clearly be very quick over a single lap (who can touch him in Turkey or at Interlagos?) but I remain far from convinced he’s a good racer. If the Ferrari is the best car and regularly dominates the front row, then I can see him matching or beating Alonso. If it’s not, and they have to battle the pack, then I can’t see anything but Alonso getting the upper hand season-long.

    A large part of the ‘only wins from the front’ stat is a consequence of the current state of F1. Nevertheless, Massa stands out as having a poor record at battling his way through the field.

    For comparison, Lewis also has 11 wins, a “mere” 8 of which were from the front row. Of course, one of those 8 was Germany ’08 when poor strategy dropped him to 5th late in the race. Then there’s the cursiuous case of Belgium ’08, a ‘win from pole’ when he only led laps 1,43 & 44 and then lost it after collecting the trophy.

    1. Tony Vigna says:

      Statistics don’t tell everything. Let’s not forget that Massa took on Lewis at his own game and was set to win Hungary 08 until the engine gave up with three laps to go. No front row slot there for FM if memory serves.

      1. Paul says:

        He started third. However, he did all the hard work off the line and in the first corner, and was leading by the second.

        I don’t want to completely write the guy off, I just remain to be convinced that he can regularly muscle his way through a field.

      2. Bob says:

        Well he has had races like that but he just didn’t win in the end. For example Canada 2008 when Kubica won, Ferrari weren’t ready for him to pit so he went through and had to go in the next lap which dropped him down the field (Guess Lewis/Kimi stuck at the end slowed him down even further) and he climbed right up the field including that double overtake on Kova/Rubens. I think he had the record amount of overtakes in a race at Silverstone 2007 and in Malaysia 2006 he climbed up the field from 2nd to last finishing ahead of a certain Michael Schumacher high in the points.

  44. Racergil says:

    Dear James:
    Rather than comment on this particular story, I would just like to congratulate you on your new site. When I could no longer find your commentary on ITV, I began to wonder where to find you. Planetf1.com led me to your site. As an long time F1 purist, I must say that your commentary and insight are by far the most informative of any I regularly read. Keep up the good work. I will comment on your stories regularly.

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for that and welcome to the site

  45. Chuck Jones says:

    CHIUNDA You might try 700ks at 2 to 5 g’s then come back and tells us how easy it is. That is if you can find your mouth at the end of the run!

    1. CHIUNDA says:

      I am sorry Chuck – i am still not convinced; i have seen more demanding sports physically and frankly i have never considered Formula 1 one of them even if i am an enthusiatic fan. In my opinion, the Paris-Dakar or the Tour De France are multiple times more demanding than F1. That is why most TDF riders use drugs – the fit is just not humanly possible on a sustainable basis without some assistance.The fact that you can find overweight drivers in F1 is testament to its softness on fitness. Recall Montoya?

  46. colm says:

    Lovely story James!

  47. Erico says:

    Say that again. It`s almost as if he never suffered the accident and missed months of racing and training. I guess that`s the kind of grit and determination that allowed him to suck it up in 2007, handing Kimi the title, and still be able to get his head down, work harder than ever and emerge better and dominant over Kimi from 2008 onwards.

    But now he has to take on Alonso and I just feel it`ll be a much tougher battle there.

  48. Dale says:

    What happened at Spa 08 is an absolute disgrace and one of the most unforgivable Mosleyisms. What was almost as bad was how Massa did interview after interview claiming how he won the race fair and square without so much as a blush in his cheeks.
    The action during that race between Kimi and Lewis was some of the very very best in recent tears and for the FIA to steel this from Hamilton is an absolute travesty and won’t be forgotten by any true supporter of F1.
    Thanks God Mosley and his cronies have gone :!:

    1. Spenny says:

      No, Pitpass are noting that there was a change in the notification of directors and then created wild speculation from it.

      You can tell how bad an F1 report is when GMM are gloating over it being wrong.

  49. Eric Weinraub says:

    I laugh when reading how Massa has ‘beaten’ Schuey…one race…Turkey. And yeah, he finished in front of him in Brazil after Fisi cut Schuey’s tire … Massa is bloody fast. But, he has never been consistently within a couple of tenths. Again, I said consistently. I expect this to be an outright duel between Hamilton, Schumacher, Alonso, Massa, and Vettel. Should be an awesome season.

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