Le Grand Retour
Paul Ricard 2018
French Grand Prix
Massa clears up Barcelona fuel mystery
Massa clears up Barcelona fuel mystery
Posted By:   |  21 May 2009   |  6:06 am GMT  |  66 comments

Two weeks ago Felipe Massa’s hopes of a podium in Spain were wrecked by a strange situation with the refuelling of his Ferrari, which meant that the team believed he was running out of fuel and was telling him to slow down in the closing stages of the race. He lost places to Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.

Massa track.
When we spoke to him after the race he and the team had not worked out the reason, but yesterday he explained what happened,

“What happened to my car especially in the last race was something that I never saw before. We had the fuel in the car but the car was reading wrong numbers, so the refuelling machine was putting the right fuel in, it was reading the right numbers of the amount of fuel that went inside but the car was saying to the engineers, to the telemetry, that all the fuel was not inside.

“Then we changed the refuelling machine, we did exactly the same thing, and we again had the wrong numbers, so maybe I saved fuel for nothing.”

A very frustrating situation, unusual too.

This weekend the Ferrari should be pretty competitive, so Massa has another good chance to get that first podium of the season.

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lost a place to Webber?????


Don’t be a revisionist James. Webber didn’t pass Massa as a result of the fuel problem.

Otherwise, good piece as usual.


Well anyway that’s a pretty serious problem and not the only one lately with Ferrari.


Felipe, baby, stay cool!

It’s not been a good season for Ferrari so far, and when Spain was dubbed as THE weekend to see an improvement in the cars, they must have been gutted with the final placements of their drivers. With so many problems going on you just have to hope that they stay switched on and concentrate on improving the car, rather than starting to point fingers etc.

Can’t wait for this weekend’s racing.


well it is odd.
not the first time fuel level sensos have failed…but usually they just check the rig emptied its load, and what the load it had been charged with was. if it aint in the rig, it aint on the floor…its probably in the car.
i guess for whatever reason they were unable to confirm that the fuel went in the rig, and that the rig delivered its load. A team management issue i’d say…ferrari proceedure seems to be slipping


As well as the fuel sample, people seem to be forgetting that running out of fuel can damage the engine, which they may have to use again, so for those two reasons Massa stopped at turn 3


Aren’t the ECUs a) standardised and thus a (relatively) cheap non-compete part and b) made by McLaren and Microsoft?

I’m surprised there aren’t more cases of unexpected, uninformative and near-impossible to reproduce in testing failures.


I find the whole saving fuel call odd. I always hear about how drivers know their cars so well that they can feel differences in weight distribution and performance. I think Massa should have known from the feel of weight in the car that he had enough fuel. Though the team radio conversations were probably confusing the issue. I think that’s palatially what caused the argument over the radio with his race engineer.


Well done Felipe for not moaning – there are many on the grid who would have done! And fantastic sporting spirit last year when the championship was snatched under his nose through no fault of his own on the last corner of the last race (Singapore)

So this is where Ferrari need to spend more of their £400 million per annum (or whatever) then!


He should not have stopped out on track unless he had actually run out of fuel or had another technical problem.

Here’s the regulation (from sporting regs):

43.3 After receiving the end-of-race signal all cars must proceed on the circuit directly to the post race parc
fermé without any unnecessary delay, without receiving any object whatsoever and without any assistance
(except that of the marshals if necessary).
Any classified car which cannot reach the post race parc fermé under its own power will be placed under
the exclusive control of the marshals who will take the car to the parc fermé.


Felipe, baby, that is really really so sad. 🙂

Markle SchuMarker

Moderator problems? Everyone really did think they were the first to comment on massa stopping, and the rest thought they were the first to answer. Now i think i’m the first to comment on the problem.


Whats the issue with moderation of this blog? Posted hrs ago still not put up yet.

Anyway, Massa stopped out on track not due to lack of fuel but was told to stop by team as to to ensure that he had some fuel in the tank for the mandatory FIA sample.

Stated in another rep website and commented on during the after race forum on TV.

So no consipiracy people, however i do think the moderators of this blog seemed quite happy to stop my earlier post to allow this to continue.


Just a thought, is it possible that Massa stopped on purpose? Does the car still get weighed,? If not Ferrari could have told Massa to stop as they may have felt they where beyond the weight limit and would have been dis-qualified.

Just a thought!


I think he stopped because he was told to by his Engineer to ensure that he would have enough fuel for the FIA fuel check. (I read this somewhere earlier in the week).

James, we wil be in Monaco this weekend, are you able to recommend any places to hang out? We are sorted for Quali and the race, but just wondering where we may find any of the teams in the evenings?

Can’t wait!!


The ECU is set to turn the engine off with only a fuel sample in the tank left for inspection. If the ECU was faulty then it turned the engine off even with more fuel left in the tank.

Markle SchuMarker

Surely it can’t be good for an engine to clatter around with no fuel? Therefore when the electronics say the fuel is about to run out, the engine shuts down so it can’t damage itself? Could that be why the car stopped?


A certain amount of fuel (can’t remember how much and can’t be bothered to look it up) must be in the tank to pass post-race inspection. Maybe that’s why he stopped.


This is just speculation, but it might be that if the car’s systems believed it had run out of fuel, it shut itself down to prevent any possible damage to the engine or other systems in the car.


Maybe the Engine Managment did shut the car down because it thought it had no fuel? Its feasible I suppose
Depends how the electronics are set up.


Massa stop in the track during the in lap, under instruction, to conserve some fuel for the FIA inspection. All cars must provide a sample (three in fact, one for the team and two for the FIA) for analysis.

If the tank was empty, and there was no fuel for analysis, then this would be an infringment and a penalty would be dealt.


I’m no Ferrari or Massa fan but come on people there is no conspiracy.. Why are so many people ready to stick the knife into them?

He was told to stop after the finish line. See Autosport article by Adam Cooper “Massa was then told to park after crossing the line to ensure that he had some fuel in the tank for the mandatory FIA sample”


Even Eddie Jordan commented on this situation during the Red Button Forum.


Do you guys not read comments? Not a single comment here doesn’t ask the same question about him stopping on outlap! Wow you think you were the only one who noticed that? Let’s wait for an informed decision instead of making these comments painful to read!


I believe he stopped on the in lap to avoid draining the tank and being disqualified for not providing a fuel sample. But surely Ferrari could have looked at the fuel left in the rig, especially after it happened the second time. There is nowhere else the fuel could have been if it wasn’t in the rig, the team seem to be getting slacker by the race


Him losing a place to Webber was unrelated wasn’t it? I though Webber stayed out longer on his middle stint and made up sufficient time to come out of the pits quicker and take the place.

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