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FIA to examine how Massa was able to start ahead of himself in Spa
FIA to examine how Massa was able to start ahead of himself in Spa
Posted By: James Allen  |  02 Sep 2010   |  7:44 pm GMT  |  154 comments

There has been a lot of chat online and in the comments section of this site these past few days about Felipe Massa’s start in Spa.

The Brazilian parked his car ahead of the grid slot he was supposed to take up and thus gained a small advantage from it, certainly over a metre. The FIA’s detection devices didn’t pick it up and he ran his race as normal. Having started sixth on the grid, he was fifth on the first lap, one of the drivers able to take advantage of Mark Webber’s poor start.

What is supposed to happen is that when the car draws up to its grid slot and a tiny transponder in the floor, which is 800mm behind the front wheel centre line, sends a signal to a sensor in the tarmac. If the car isn’t within the tolerated range then the signal doesn’t work and the car is adjudged to have jumped the start, for which a drive through penalty is applied.

This isn’t something you should be able to get around, but clearly Massa’s car managed to do so, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

The FIA said today that it would hold an investigation into how it happened, “The problem was not brought to the attention of the FIA race director by either the marshals nor the automatic jump start system in time to be able to apply the appropriate penalty for jump starts,” said an FIA spokeswoman.

“As no further information or complaints were received before the publication of the official result on Sunday night, the classification of the Belgian Grand Prix will now remain unchanged.

“The FIA are investigating the causes of the apparent failures in communication with race control in order to ensure a repetition is not possible.”

What is interesting about this story is that it is another example of a piece of content produced by a fan and uploaded to You Tube, which has become a talking point for the mainstream F1 media and has brought about direct action from the sport.

Notwithstanding the views of the commercial rights holder, FOM, on user generated content from F1 races on You Tube, this week has seen two such incidents, with the Sebastian Vettel wing flex discussion also being inspired by fans.

Previously we have seen fan generated video feature in changes to safety car rules, such as after Fuji 2007.

This is as it should be and it is good to see that fans are able to have influence and that the sport is paying attention.

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What a great sport, one incident resulting in several views from enthusiasts. My personal thoughts are that in the pinnacle of motor sport with all the technology its great that there is room for human error. With the support from the undervalued Marshall’s and the constant barrage the officials take we should remember they all are needed as much as the cars or drivers.


Dave fantastic point mate…Don’t we just love the value of Human Error, one can see the shoulders shrugging of the Marshall’s right now. I agree with you 100%


Another case of “luck”. Some drivers looks like they have it. “Gifted points by the Godess of fortune”.

There is the joker who deciude the “luck” of contenders. A luck who could kill the justice and sportiveness. Afterwards anglo media raise or put down their finger. That’s all!

That “luck” is measurable. Every driver has his number. +50, +10, -+0, -10, -50.

Guess who is the “product” rewarded by “luck” can you?


James noticed Massa’s position in his comentary, I can’t believe that this wasn’t noticed by any other officals???


Could Massa have reversed the car to fit within the box ?


F1 does seem behind the times in the technical part of its coverage. Indy Car have cameras at track level it would be fascinating to get a floor level view of the first corner and to see if any wings are bending. The onboard cameras pan so you can see the overtaking cars.


Harking back to the driver’s salary story, I would throw in in comparison that Dancia Patrick earns $12m per year. (She was considered a possible future F1 candidate by some)

Also a possible future item: Formula 100 has been formed this is an association of F1 sponsors. Together of course they could hold sway over the sport an interesting point for Bernie to ponder. I may well be wrong but I don’t think the sponsors have got together before.


I find it hard to accept the FIA was not aware of this. Either they are too reliant on software or in this case, simply blind! It was obvious at the time to those in the crowd, clearly mentioned by BBC commentators and its been mentioned by other TV stations too in the press.

This was a mistake by Massa – a metre is not going to make a huge difference when your lower down the grid – I cannot see it being strategy. However, that it remains unpunished is nuts


I think they are VERY reliant on the software and the marshals, but in this case if the sensor was outside the pickup zone and the ground loop was faulty what do they do? Stop the race and dig up the track?

The marshal nearest Massa obviously did not want to see the start because he turned away before Massa stopped and had his back to him.

Can the FIA use the unauthorised video? It belongs to one of Bernie’s many companies or subsidiaries that are controlled by FOM which is controlled by Bernie; does he make the FIA pay for any footage they use I wonder.


It’s is mistake by Massa who overshot his grid slot position.

Don’t think Massa deliberately crossed the line just for half a meter advantage.

FIA will take action but what will it be? Grid slot penalty might be the only option for Monza. Yeowch!


If the FIA use this kind of fotage to nail massage, why on earth they use this fotage kind of fotage from the BBC etc to nail red bull for their illegal wing!


It’s really simple how this happened.

Even if a team protested or a track marshall contacted race control to say Massa ‘jumped’ the start they’d have looked at the indisputable evidence rather than the eye witness account. And there isn’t any, if the sensor is faulty and there’s no camera at the right angle on those 2 metres of track what can they do?

On the conspiracy side it’s easier to think Massa made a mistake, after all he’s made many. However Ferarri only have themselves to blame for so many people thinking they act in this way.


Dear God I wish I was there, the noise is fantastic and the tension at a GP start is really exciting.


Drawing number 6 in the Tech Regs shows the 3 possible transponder positions.

One is between the front wheels and the other two are either side of the driver’s shoulders.

If Massa’s car had them in the rear position they may have still registered on the timing computer as ok, after all it is movement before the start that is detected.

You may also remember that part of the delay in the “Hamilton passing the safety car decision” earlier in the year was in finding the transponder position on his car.

The marshal nearest Massa in the video turns his back just before Massa stops forward of his position.

Also of course the first lap will be longer as it starts behind the start line; presumably timed from race start rather than crossing the start line.


marshals look up the track at what’s coming, not down the track at what has already passed.


actually i have that backwards…

looking down the track at what has passed allows them to warn coming traffic what lay ahead. sorry…


Thanks for explaining the problem. They didn’t notice it on TV where I live and I just read about it in some comments and didn’t really know what happened.

Can Massa/Ferrari be penalised for it somehow? The results can’t be changed, but anything else like grid drop in the next race?

Sorry if I post this comment twice… I wanted to write it earlier in the day, but was busy and I don’t know if I sent it or not in the end… :/


Human error: both by Massa and the stewards. Not everything in life is a conspiracy theory. If you’ve ever raced a car, you know your mind can be on things other than perfectly lining up your car on the lines and your heart rate is shall we say somewhat high at this point.


James, completely off topic, but your twitter feed page is offline, its been the same tweets up top for the last 3 days, i checked it on my phone and my laptop, so its not my end.


Thanks. Yes a problem with the interface with Twitter. We’re working on it. It’s something faced by all people doing what we are going with Twitter


ok great, hope you are able to get it back, its fantastic for all the latest F1 news.


They should have a camera on a rail that goes down that start finish track, slightly wide angle that could follow the cars down to the first corner, would be a great perspective to see who gains and looses and why.

StillI always think the commentators do a good job at spotting very quickly incidents


I remember very well Martin Brundle from BBC saying he was almost 2 meters ahead at the start of the race, he said massa should have been punished, but it appears nobody listened to the transmission.


It is very obvious it was on purpose.

Look when he slows down, he relly does not stress or try to brake hard, he is very easy on the break and quite deliberately ovrerun the box.



…Felipe, himself, should have made that determination. “Hmmmmm, my front wheels are in front of the white line….how could this be?!?!”


Massa would have knew he missed the grid slot, i wonder did he speak to rob on the radio to check what to do or just hoped that he got away with it

Stuart the Old Geezer

I suppose that Rob Smedley has given Massa enough bad news for one season.

I cannot think of any reason why Massa should deliberately overshoot his ‘box’. Surely just an error which gave him precious little advantage. It’s a storm in a teacup .

Anyway I think he’s a nice guy and deserves a break, so lets hope he isn’t penalised.


Whats all this fuss about the guys video being a talking point? Martin Brundle picked it up about 2 seconds after it happened! Since nothing came of it I dont think he mentioned it again during the race. Had the marshalls been listening to the coverage they may have decided to look at a couple of replays.

I dont think its a big deal though, the rate these things accelerate at being a bit infront of the line isnt going to have nearly the same effect as a good start or jump start.

I agree with most others here. I think the sensors only come into play after the light sequence has started.

On a side note, I presume you are not allowed to reverse on the grid? On a side side note I presume F1 cars still have a reverse gear?


Will the FOM make the owner remove this footage from Youtube? Surely the F1 honcho’s can’t remove this footage from Youtube as it’s a fan’s own footage that he/she took themselves?


It was probably a faulty sensor? I don’t think it was deliberate by Massa. He was probably setting the car up for launch and was distracted, Like Kubica in the pits.

Its good to see the FIA looking at stuff from the fans. Shows the sport is opening up a little.


James, I was at the race the other day. I was just round the corner from Bruxelles on the hill looking down the straight to Pouhon. Its a great view, you can even see the start/finish straight. It wasn’t raining too hard round there but throughout the day especially the GP2 race drivers were all over the place! I’d hate to see them if it had really chucked it down.

Its the second year I’ve been to the Belgium GP and its the second time I’ve been annoyed that the drivers don’t come round after the race on a slow lap so that the crowd (most of whom have been out there since 7am) can cheer them. I understand its a long lap but I feel its only right that the fans get to celebrate a drivers achievements.

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