Does Massa’s Ferrari test matter?
Scuderia Ferrari
Does Massa’s Ferrari test matter?
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Jan 2010   |  12:15 pm GMT  |  158 comments

Felipe Massa is set to test a 2008 Ferrari at Barcelona on Friday. He will take the car over from Valentino Rossi, who has been enjoying another taste of F1 power this week.

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Ferrari are able to do this because the car is now two years old, which is the embargo set by the testing committee to protect against new technology. The car is now part of the stable of cars managed by Ferrari’s F1 Clienti department, which looks after old F1 cars for its wealthy customers. No other team does this and it’s quite an undertaking to maintain all the different engines and hydraulic systems and so on.

The F2008 car has more or less the same engine as this years 2010 car, due to the engine freeze in F1. The question many people will be asking is whether they are able to get any technical benefit from running this test, for example to test something out in the engine.

The answer I’ve gleaned from talking to F1 engineers from other teams is that there is little benefit that can be derived from this test which they could not derive from testing on the dyno in the factory.

Ferrari’s big issue this season is fuel consumption, with suggestions that at 2009 rates of fuel use, they may have to carry as much as 10 kilos of fuel more at the start of the race than cars powered by Renault or Mercedes. On average this will mean a deficit of 3/10ths of a second per lap to their rivals and more on some tracks. I think it that the actual figure is likely to be less than this, because it is something that they have been working hard on this winter.

With the first track test of the new Ferrari due in ten days time, there is little they would learn on this from Barcelona in a car with a different weight, different front tyres and configuration.

As far as Massa is concerned, it makes sense for him to get some extra mileage in to refamiliarise himself with an F1 car, particularly as he will have very limited time in the three pre season tests, in which he will have to share the car with his new team mate Fernando Alonso. I spoke with Massa’s manager Nicolas Todt this morning as he and Felipe were arriving in Barcelona and he said that the test will help with his confidence and give him some valuable extra time in the car, which is such a precious commodity in F1 these days.

Weather permitting, he should be able to do around 80 to 100 laps on Friday which will give him a good understanding of how his body reacts to being in a car over a long distance again, much as Michael Schumacher did last summer and again with the recent GP2 test.

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Me think ur a biased Brit but the facts are massa won more races more fastest laps more car and team failures same pole positions and Hamilton beat him by a point. Now add the 2 points in Malaysia, and take away the 2 points massa got in France threw kimi’s problems and take away the extra point massa got in japan and that’s a 5 point swing. Now add the 10 points in Hungary and Singapore plus the safety car period problems felipe suffered in Canada when rig failed and had to pit the next lap again, in Germany when piquet jumped him when massas breakswere shot U would have a different view when the luck is evened out. And lewis cut the chicane there’s no two ways abt it and deserved what he got. Also remember brazil 08 and china 09 felipe was great in rain whereas lewis struggled. As rafa benitez says “fact”


Not looking great for Massa..


James, I think you know my interest in MotoGP and I know you watch it, too. Did you see that Valentino Rossi tested this week in the 2008 car? Lapped at 1.21.9; Kimi, in the same car in 2008, secured pole in 1.21.813. Not bad, eh?


Though Rossi had the benefit of slicks, while F1 in 2008 had still grooved tires + race fuel load in Q3. Impressive, nevertheless.


Yes, saw that.


…and no times were issued of Massa, in the same car.


The test is all about Massa & how is he going to cope in f1 car. Personally, i think he will be far from being fit.


As to the narrower front tires this coming season, here is a quote from Jun Matsuzaki, Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport: A narrower front tire will also be introduced to adjust the basic balance of the cars.

This is from a Bridgestone news release.


Im amazed at how many people have been fooled into thinking Massa will strongly challenge Alonso. It should be quite clear to anyone with any understanding of the sport that Massa is not in Alonso’s class in any way. Speed wise and consistency. A retiring Michael dominated him more than he did Rubens, and the only reason Massa is rated so high these days is because Kimi was overrated and hes been driving the best and fastest car on the grid for 3 years.

Alonso will show his class. There will be no need for special managment because it wont be much of a contest.


nice one, cant wait this happening, ALO will bring the title this year. in my eyes VET is a threat


McLaren should look into such a thing as well. Not for the possible testing benefits, but for estabilishing their image outside F1. I mean, if they want to steal marketshare from guys like Ferrari, they better be able to provide a lot, and it wouldn’t hurt to give some rich and bored mid-aged men ten laps or so in an F1.

On the other hand, we wouldn’t even bother with these small issues if the testing regulations weren’t so restricted. Imagine the buzz and potential revenue that could have been generated by now had there already been a normal 3 day test session. We just came off one of the most intense off-seasons ever with lots of driver moves, and there still is nothing tangible to show off.


Remember people, he’ll be driving the same Clienti F2008 Ferrari that Rossi just got out of. It seems that Rossi was very happy with his performance, and he really got very close to actual 2008 qualifying pace (but with GP2 slicks, not 2008 grooved F1 rubber).

Let’s see if Massa can gain some confidence, by lapping on a different league from Rossi.

Or not.


He was almost 3 seconds faster.

I think thats all the confidence he needs.

Forza Massa


I just wonder if this test has anything to do with tyre management on full tank. Although Massa is not as much a menace Lewis is for tyres, but can’t call him a master of the art.


Well, they are using GP2 tires on a 3 years old car, with a completely different chassis.

How that could be a valuable test for tires or anything else?


I don’t understand the reasoning behind the narrower front tires this year. Just last year they added those huge, ugly front wings (they look like the “cow-catchers” on old steam locomotives)in order to improve grip while close behind another car to make passing easier, and now they are taking front grip away again by narrowing the tires? Someone enlighten me please.


It has to do with the balance of the car.

When they got rid of the grooves in the tyres, the front tyres got proportionally more contact area than the rear. This meant that it was very hard for the teams to find a good balance on the tyres and led to the need to move the centre of gravity forwards (I think) – which in turn hurt the KERS teams as that was extra weight at the rear of the car.

By making the front tyres slightly narrower, they have returned the grip balance (from the tyres) to the ratio it was with the grooved tyres.

At least, that’s how I’ve understood it. If I’m wrong then I’m sure James or someone else will correct me.


When the cars went back to slick tyres from grooved (4 on the front and 4 on the back) The front tyres got a higher % of rubber back when the grooves were filled in. The rear tyres are wider than the fronts howeve the grooves were the same thickness. The meant that the cars naturally had more grip at the front and were oversteery. By reducing front thickness the natural tendency should be more neutral.


2009 cars with fat front tyres (same size as grooved tyres but removing the grooves added proportionately more rubber to the front)were very badly balanced. They needed a lot of ballast in the front to balance the car, including some in the front wing to get the weight as far forward as possible.

Cars which could not get enough ballast in the front of the car within the minimum weight (because of a heavy driver or a KERS system)ended up with an badly balanced car which trashed its rear tyres easily.

The 2010 narrower front tyres should considerably reduce the need for ballast in the front of the car.


Thanks (to both of you) for that.


Yeah, that dose seem pretty stupid, Buck, personally I reckon the front wing should be much smaller, and the rear wing too, so the car would be less relient on downforce, and would create less “wake” therefore allowing cars to follow more closely and even gain a slipstream to assist passing.



Is the car Massa will drive tomorrow of the same spec as Rossi’s today and yesterday ? It is hard to gague his time today, but it has to be highly respectable to say the very least.

It will be interesting to see if he manages to get close to Rossi … lol… or how much faster he is, abeit on different days.



If the engine development is frozen. how can any team work on better fuel economy?

especially stephen (ferrari boss) said they are working with shell to improve the fuel economy.

please advise.



i have read

Renault made a fuel tank of 165kg.

Mercedes made a fuel tank of 175 kg.

Cosworth made a fuel tank of 185 kg.

Is that correct? do you the size of tank?

secondly, if current f1 car is heavier from the rear with the slim front tyres. aero must be different then 09, dont you think that will effect RB Mclearn and mercedes (brawn GP) as they developed their cars until last gp? surely they have less wind tunnel testing time for the new areo parts.

and how ferrari can improve their fuel consumption on engine freeze pharse?

thanks keep up the great work james


Tank size is speculation at this stage. But it will be a big point of discussion in the tests and the early races.


It’ll be great should Renault find their tank is too small and they run out of fuel as this would completely cock up their car and season 🙂


It’ll be great if your Hamilton love wasn’t manifesting it self in such a sad way. 🙂


i can understand the need for restricting testing pre season, but surley the testing during the season is needed to make up ground, is the lack of testing affecting the championship ?


Alonso brings 0.6




Yes – a shame he could never take it back from McLaren to Renault…

He must have left the six tenths in his McLaren overalls…


At least 😆


Why is Fernando Alonso allowed to drive an 09 Ferrari? I know its for ‘publicity purposes’ but surely its against the regulations and a benefit can be gained from it??


Not if it involves Ferrari ❗


Alonso probably did few runs at lower speed trough trajectories that are dictated by an advertising story board, following a movie crew on a truck, going what? 90km per hours maximum?

At such speed the tires are all wobbling and the car shaking, what kind of test would that be?

Some of you guys need to chill up a little.


What can be done for publicity purposes is limited – different tyres and all sorts of things.

In terms of learning the cars controls, they have the simulator.

…and of course, it is open to all the teams to do demos, so I can’t really see that there is anything unfair. It would become unfair at the point it happened on a real track with real tyres, and then it would not be a demo.


I think this testing by both Ferrari and Mercedes (Schumacher in the Ferrari) is not in the spirit of the current F1 rules.

Either let’s have testing or not have it and do away with this on the sly testing.

I’d bet if McLaren started doing this then the FIA would soon put a stop to it ❗


Rossi´s today best time 1:21:9

Raikkonen 2008 Pole Position 1:21:8

Awesome!!!!!, let see Massa tomorrow.


Remember that Kimi would have had around 15 laps of fuel on board. Rossi was more than likely on low fuel. Still good though


What is awesome? Rossi drove on slicks which is much better than grooved tyres.

And he had driven with low fuel, while Kimi’s pole wasn’t low fuel.


It will probably give him chance to familiarise himself with working with Rob Smedley again for the day. Look at all the track time he lost by not racing last year? This is why F1 does need some testing days but not to the extremes of the last few years. I used to love going to the F1 testing at silverstone and getting some autographs in the paddock…


If schumacher gets to do test drives off-season then all F1 drivers should too! The test driving ban is idiotic.


Nothing to stop the other drivers getting out their euros and buying themselves a test drive.

In New Zealand our highest level of single seater racing is the Toyota Racing Series. It runs over our summer (which is pretty much the F1 off season). I always used to say when Toyota were still in F1 that they should make their F1 guys come and do a couple of race meetings. It wouldve been so good for the young up and coming guys to measure themselves against a current F1 star. It mightve helped the drivers to keep their hand in and their fitness up.

And maybe someone would’ve shown Ralf S how to drive…




Hi James,

Really enjoy the site, your content and commentary are unmatched. Just wanted to get your thoughts on what could turn out to be an interesting dynamic between Ferrari, their drivers and the FIA in 2010.

Should relations become strained between Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso at any point this year – particularily if the two of them are in for the championship – most people expect Alonso to be the one to start political games within the team, and this may be true. However, I think the political games Massa could play reach much higher. Most people overlook the link between Massa, his manager Nicolas Todt, and the recentley elected FIA president Jean Todt. Massa holds a political card much more influential than any within Ferrari.

It’s no secret that Jean Todt was left unimpressed with Alonso after he backed out of a testing deal early in his career, even saying that Alonso would never drive for the Scuderia as long as he was in power. In the mean time, Massa came in to Ferrari under the managment of Todt’s son Nicolas and became the chosen one.

Should Jean Todt have even the slightest grudge against Alonso, it will be very easy for Nicolas Todt and Massa to have him on their side should any nasty incedents need to be sorted out – or created (Monza 2006, anyone?).

On the other hand, I suspect Jean Todt is a very professional individual and will not want to be seen or suspected of any favoritism towards his sons driver.

Should be interesting!


Are you seriously suggesting that someone holding a position as important as ‘FIA President’ could allow himself to be infuenced by past rivalries and personal grudges?? Whatever made you think of that? 😉


Both Balestre and Mosley stayed well away from F1.

Right? 🙂


Sadly I concur with your thoughts 😉


Thanks for that. Todt Sr has a very different role now. I don’t see him getting involved. As for Massa vs Alonso, I think that the situation needs to be very skillfully managed

Zami from Melbourne, Australia

Hi james, haven’t been able to check your blog regularly being that i’m on holiday in the sub continent. So I just finished reading everything that i missed over the last week. What’s the chance of having a grand prix in India & when? These are great countries to visit, but i’m not convinced local ppl will get into F1 much.


We F1 fans should be gratefull for the services rendered by James. FREESPEECH please don’t pollute this site. Every one is eager to see F1 in India. The cause for the delay is Bernies money and the Politicians are very much answerable about this expenditure to the citizens of India. Please change your perspective to see things. India is not like you think. Your UK companies like Corrus, Jaguar, etc., are owned by Indians.


Madness to have a Grand Prix in India when the country has so much poverty, it’s almost criminal.

We live is real crazy world, the UK gives millions to India whilst they run both a nuclear weapons program of their as as a space program whilst at the same 10’s of millions live in slums and we are talking about having a Grand Prix there ❓ Madness….


It’s one of those things that Bernie wants but needs to be sure the people can deliver. It’s not far away though


“think that the situation needs to be very skillfully managed”….the same as Button vs Hamy


More so


At a guess I’d say they were evaluating Massa’s pace, fitness and endurance over a long run, with a view to trying to determine if they need to hedge their bets in testing by giving Fisichella a good number of days in the car rather than one or two mornings before the track dries out.

Same situation as with the 2007-car tests last fall — however much Massa might have tried to characterise it as a “Christmas present”!

My question is who pays for all this, and does it fall under the resource restriction agreement? Presumably Scuderia Ferrari are claiming that these tests are being conducted by F1 Clienti, another division, and that it has nothing to do with the expenditure for the actual 2010 season.


i wouldn’t get too hung up on the fact that ferrari was the least efficient engine last year. it simply wasn’t a priority then. they will have worked closely with their partners at shell to develop a fuel and engine maps to significantly improve efficiency over the winter.


But then again, won’t everyone else too??


You’re probably right about the fuel developement and engine mapping, but don’t forget that fuel efficiency has been extremely important in F1 for many seasons now, since even 5 kgs extra costs time.

But cam events and combustion chamber shapes, compression ratios, internal friction etc all effect fuel efficiency, and with the engine freeze I dunno if those sorts of things can be changed, so that’ll make it difficult for the likes of Farrari. (Although they might have electronically controled variable valve timing).

But then again, aren’t they all using a common McLaren Electronics ECU? I dunno!



I am not being critical of felippe on my post by the way.

I am a big fan of his. I just don’t believe that ferrari should be able to test their current f1 driver in a so called client testing team.

It is in the same spirit as having them pounding round fiorano thousands of times a year.

Anyway good luck felipe on your return. I hope you beat fernando !


I agree, the spirit of the rules are being broken.

I’d bet things would be said if McLaren were doing likewise ❗


The testing ban was about containing costs. This isn’t developing the car, it is helping the driver. You still need someone to pay for the testing activity. Ferrari used private fans, while Mercedes used the GP2 organisation.


It’s legal and within the regulation to which all the teams agree on. Personally, I can’t see the issue…


And if I understand it right, any team or driver could go and hire the same Ferrari car for a day if they wanted to.

I agree mate, there’s no issue here. Especially as the poor guy has been off the track for far longer than his peers. Who’d begrudge him a few runs to get himself back up to speed again?


I think this is completely wrong and against the spirit of the testing ban.

At least Schumacher tested a gp2 car. Let felipe do the same if he needs track time, no argument with track time.

I appreciate why he is doing so, but what next. A mcclaren stable of oldcarIa so they can do the same. I know he had an accident, but Ferrari should not be allowed to do this.


Sorry Andy, I don’t agree! Having raced cars myself (much slower than F1 cars), I know that time away from racing leaves you “rusty”, and it seems stupid to me that FIA don’t encourage all drivers and rookys especially, to get out there and test before the beginning of the season, otherwise there’ll be caos in the first race.




my comments probably came across badly in text form. I would like to see proper testing allowed for all pre season.

What I was trying to get across was that it is not in my opinion fair for Ferrari to use their clienti team to test an f1 driver.

I wish felipe the best of luck for the season ahead.

I would like to see more pre season testing for all, and I think that drivers drafted in should be allowed some proper testing as you said.

Give them a decent chance at getting up to speed with f1 which is a huge step up. If they then don’t make it fine.

What did you race by the way? Someone I know raced jenson in one of the junior formulas but didn’t have any real backing or by his own admission enough good results.


And they will. Just give them a little time. They paniced with the crisis, and tried without much sucess, cutting the costs. But when everything calms down, they would realice that cutting all the tests is nonsense.

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