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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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1

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.

3

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.

4

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 ❗

6

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.

7

Lovely story James!

9

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!

10

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?

11

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.

12

Thanks for that and welcome to the site

13

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.

14

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.

15

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.

16

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.

17
Mike from Medellin, Colombia

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?

18

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.

19
trapped in the eighties

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.

20

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.

21

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.

22
bernie loves $$$$ more than slavica.

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.

23

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.

24
bernie loves $$$$ more than slavica.

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.

25

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.

26

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

27

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

28

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.

29

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.

30

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

Nurburgring 2005???

Singapore 2008?????

31

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

32

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!

33

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!

34

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

35
bernie loves $$$$ more than slavica.

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

36
Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Apparently it’s around 150db

37

Thanks Mike

38

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.

39

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

40

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.

41

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 ❗

42
bernie loves $$$$ more than slavica.

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.

43

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.

44

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.

45

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

46

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…

47

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.

48

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.

49

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)

50

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.

51

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?

52

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.

53

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.

54
bernie loves $$$$ more than slavica.

evenly matched

55

How do you know??

56

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.

57

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.

58

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).

59

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

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