Video: Has Felipe Massa been found out?

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Two races, two DNFs for Felipe Massa.

There were plenty of people speculating that the Ferrari driver would struggle without traction control and electronic engine braking – and they appear to have been proven correct.

At Melbourne when the field turned left at the second corner Massa shot off to the right having got on the power too hard and too early. He was fortunate to get away with only a damaged front wing.

And he pirouetted out of the Malaysian Grand Prix in a spin that bore all the hallmarks of a driver asking too much of his rear tyres. His Ferrari team admitted afterwards they couldn’t see anything obviously wrong from the car’s telemetry.

Massa made his F1 debut in 2002, the year after traction control was legalised in the sport.

Is he struggling without traction control? What should he and Ferrari do about it? Would it have been better for them to give Michael Schumacherr’s winter testing mileage to Massa to help him acclimatise?

Felipe Massa biography

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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63 comments on “Video: Has Felipe Massa been found out?”

  1. I said it after Australia and I would say it again: Massa should be paying for driving a Ferrari and no the other way round. I  see at least six drivers that deserve his seat more than him. I guess Nicolas Todt’s phone is receiving a lot of calls these days.

    1. He lost the title by one point.

      1. To be fair to Toncho, his comment was made in March 2008!

  2. Maybe Ferrari should use the fortnight gap to Bahrain to give Massa a big stretch of laps at Fiorano to make sure he knows exactly where the limit is without TC. I think he is still deserving of a Ferrari seat, as he has the speed, but he’s beginning to look as reckless as he did when he first drove for Sauber.

  3. Im waiting to see if there was any problem, or driver error.

  4. Yes, he is rubbish.

  5. It’s disappointing for Schumi’s protege to be circling the dirt in such an important phase of the 2008 season but heh this way Kimi is the definitive Numero uno. B the way, my question why is Ferrari using moveable aero wings. Massa’s onboard clearly shows the front wing moving up respectively down on long straights. is that legal???

  6. If he went out racing under pressure like Kimi in Australia (chasing good result starting from P16) one could forgive such an error. But to go out when he was clearly behind P1 Kimi and clearly ahead of whoever was P3 at that moment is unexcusable … Eight sure points lost for the team … He will have to do better than this. Otherwise his 3 year contract may only be good for few years of compensation … Even if Ferrari use him as number 2, they need number 2 that can finish races ahead of competition … Very disapointing …

  7. As Rikhart says, let’s wait until we know the cause of this most recent off.

    But I remember Massa was reckless back in his Sauber days and regularly threw the car off the track.  Though he is undoubtedly fast I was very surprised when Ferrari offered him a drive.

  8. I’ll give him a couple more races, but yes, he’s gone down a couple of notches in my book.  I’ve been thinking, actually: has Felipe been overdriving in response to the rumors that Ferrari are looking at Vettel or Alonso?  It might have more of a negative than a positive effect on him.

  9. He’s the Andy Murray of F1. All the speed,  but no consistency and a world class excuse maker. It’s never his fault…

  10. We dont know if he had some car problem yet, dont diss him that much now

  11. As Milos stated, Ferrari don’t need him to win, but they need him to finish well if they are to take the constructor’s as well as the driver’s titles. If he finished second they would be tied for 2nd place with BMW at 19 in lieu of third at 11 points.

    I think they’ll give him one more race to see how he handles the pressure before considering other driver options.

  12. As soon as I found out traction control was banned this year, my first thought was of Massa spinning off on corner exits; and so far I’ve been right. It’s fairly clear that he is a rubbish driver that needs a computer to do the thinking for him.

  13. I never tought he was good enough for Ferrari, but as Milos said, he is a good number 2 if he finished…but if he even fails to do so, he won’t be driving that car next year..

  14. I agree that Ferrari really want to win the constructors title so need both cars to get to the finish in the points at every race if possible, so I can’t see consistent driver errors going down too well.

    Melbourne showed Massa wasn’t thinking about the lack of TC and was clearly caught out – as the team later confirmed.  This time I’m not so sure, the way the car spun looked really strange, not like a normal slide due to too much power being put down as he did at turn 1 in Melbourne.

    I’ll reserve judgement until we know one way or another for sure, but it’s strange that the team have come out and said they can’t find anything wrong so far as normally the teams stick up for their drivers.

    Imagine this had been Hamilton, McLaren would have been jumping on their sword to take all the blame away from him!

    Does this show that Massa has fallen out of flavour with his team?

  15. Let us go back in time. A year to be precise. This was the same last season. 2 races and 2 bad results for Massa. Nothing has changed so far. People said many things about him. One man, he went about his job, as if nothing had happened. Massa was back in contention with a thumping victory in Bahrain. He claimed pole, won the race and set the fastest lap by some margin. Massa does have some talent(duh…). He has natural speed and ability. However, he tends to overdrive(tsk, tsk). More human than human. That is, compared to some other drivers he gets flustered and tries to make up for things. Which is exactly when the things go wrong.

    No excuse though, he better pull up his socks and not let the things to get to him. He does not need to win all the races(he i think was baffled by pace of Kimi in the race), but he needs to finish races and competitively. He needs to learn a few things from his compatriot Piquet Snr. He won 3 championships with a low tally of wins(he fully deserved all of his 3 championships).

    About race seat with Ferrari for next year and beyond, he just needs to get some consistent results, that is all.

  16. Pedro Andrade
    23rd March 2008, 13:45

    Yes, Massa is not good enough to be driving a Ferrari, there are many other more deserving drivers out there.

  17. Pedro Andrade
    23rd March 2008, 13:47

    Forgot to add: and just imagine when rain does come!

  18. The pressure seems to be too much for him. And while I hate him for what he did to a Ferrari two races in-a-row, it’s still too early to bring out the pitchforks and condemn him for losing vital constructors’ points. He could easily win the next couple of races with a win for BMW thrown in between, and he’d be level with Hamilton and Raikkonen pretty much. The only thing I don’t like about him is how he tends to blame everybody, like Alonso did last year.

  19. We already saw him struggling at wet races… He’s not what you might call a "control freak"… there are plenty of drivers whom you might think are amooth and precise to get the car round a corner in difficult situations (not talking about the TC loss)…. Massa is not one of them…

    But HEY! he started from pole position. :P

    He will have to aclimatize and that’s all… But it’s really dissapointing, because he’s an experienced driver…

  20. Perhaps he’ll be replaced with Vettel before the end of the season?

  21. Give the seat to Button, Massa’s not worthy of standing in his shadow, let alone drive a ferrari…

  22. He wasn’t over driving the car, it just seems like the back stepped out suddenly probably loss of downforce.  Seems those small patches of gravel traps are not too difficult to locate apparently.

  23. I think we all anticipated Massa’s struggles to adapt to life without TC this season. While I am completely new to following the sport this season, Massa looked to be just what Ferrari would want- a solid driver who would bring home points every week and bag a win or two en route to the team championship, while at the same time Kimi powers his way to the top of the drivers standings.

    I asked on anohter topic what ferrari would do about Massa’s struggles- perhaps giving him some extra practice, as some of you had suggested, would be a good move. While I think it is far too early to give up on him, he dose need to at least start finishing in order to keep Ferrari in the hunt. If he can’t do that, BMW may very well take control of second place in the standings in my view.

    Lastly, a very Happy Easter to all of you fellow F1 Fanatics!!

  24. So far, I think it is too hard to call massa out of ferrari. He did start fourth in Melbourne and pole in Malaysia. He needs to control himself. I really like Massa as Kimi’s wingman. I think this will be massa’s last season with ferrari and it was a nice stay. (JUST THINKING)Would it be nice to give massa’s place to his majesty Schumi again(He wants #8)? Schumi and Kimi that would be awesome.

  25. Anthony you are spot on.
    It is not looking good. That was a pretty elementary error.

    Felipe’s Fan, feeling disappointed

  26. I said before the season started that he would struggle without all that electronic assistance and it is plain as day that he is totally out of his depth.  Being fast is fine but if he can’t be fast for 50 or 60 laps in a row without throwing his car at the scenery then he is useless to Ferrari.

    When he drove for Sauber he was erratic and over-drove every corner.  In recent seasons he has looked smoother but I always believed that the electronics were saving him from himself.

    Unless there is a dramatic improvement Ferrari will be looking to unload him before the end of the season.  Luca Badoer or Marc Gene may not be the fastest drivers in the world but they would score consistent points in the Ferrari.

  27. That’s what interests me about Ferrari’s test drivers, Steven, because I can’t see either of them stepping into a spare car at short notice. Gene was dropped by Williams last time he was used as a sub, and Ferrari passed over Badoer to bring Mika Salo in in 1999.

    Of course, Massa had a bad Malaysian Grand Prix last year as well and came back to win the next two races…

  28. I noted Milos comment about the variable wing angle.  I have been wondering for years just why variable wing control (like the trim on a light aircraft) had not been introduced.  It gives more control over to the driver and clearly forces an even higher degree of concentration – just what we need to see happening, given the title of this blog.

  29. Nico Savidge
    24th March 2008, 0:50

    I may have, in a fit of rage, called Felipe a "Useless sham of a driver" just after he spun out…

  30. This might be the start of a teammate rivalry. It looked like Massa were trying to race Kimi. Did anyone notice the start, it seemed like Massa choped Kimi, and Kimi had to drive very near to the pitwall.

  31. mark my words, he will NOT win a race this year!
    he HAS been flattered by TC

  32. A few more hundred kilometers of testing mileage can’t compensate for a basic lack of diving finesse. The way the tail got out…it’s looking terrible for Massa. Better, Ferrari get rid of him and put in a decent driver there. Ferrari can’t afford to try him out for another half-season. If they’ve to challenge the McLarens for the title, that is.

  33. I agree with all who have said that "Filipe made a hash of first 2 races". However, a season is 18 races. He still could come back. Then again, this is not a midfield team. He can’t keep making these mistakes. He is not a rookie. He is driving for Ferrari. They have been producing a car that battles for title most consistently than others(11 years running out of last 12). Most teams have forms come and go. Ferrari are an exceptional team in modern Grand Prix era. This, as much as is a good thing, takes away any and every possible excuse that one can come up with.

    Ever since his Sauber days, Massa was known for overdriving. He did sign up with Ferrari, he honed up his skills. Which showed. He matched and bettered Schumi(About whom Eddie Ervine said that "he is the best number 1 and number 2 driver" after Sepang ’99) in the same car. If he keeps making the same mistakes, he will be shown the door. Quite a shame, cos he is fast.

    About replacement driver. Most driver’s would jump through hooves to drive for them. Enough said. :P

  34. Toni,
    In the early days of aerodynamics there used to be various driver controlled devices but there were a lot of breakages so they were banned.  It used to be common for sportscars at LeMans to have an air brake.  If you are old enough think of the bullet proof shield that used to pop up at the back of James Bond’s Aston Martin.

    At the end of the Mulsanne straight the driver would pull a lever (sometimes the brake pedal activated it) and the air brake would pop up and create a huge amount of drag and reducing the braking distance.  Unfortunately occasionally they didn’t pop up and the driver missed the corner and had a huge accident.

    F1 used to have two position wings so that the driver could set them flat on the straight to reduce drag and angle them to create downforce in the turns.  Unfortunately these too failed and there were many big accidents and then they were banned.

    Unbelievably the Overtaking Working Group suggested adjustable wings last season because they claimed they would help overtaking.  They won’t they will make it ten time harder to overtake.

    On a side note has everyone else given up hope of the Overtaking Working Group ever actually doing anything to generate overtaking.

    I can’t see adjustable aerodynamics ever being introduced to F1 and to be honest they never should be introduced.  F1 is far too aero sensitive already and this would only make it worse.  They should be looking at simplifying the aero.  Getting rid of all the little add-ons next year is a good start but they should also be looking at making front end aerodynamics a lot less sensitive so that one driver can follow another through a corner without developing understeer and trashing his tyres.

  35. Steven
    I understand your point of view on vari-wings, but surely in this technologically advanced age where fly-by-wire is commonplace in the aero industry, it would not be beyond the design fraternity to devise a fail-safe system to circumvent the shortcomings that you refer to.  It seems illogical, especially where long straights are involved, to restrict the driver to fixed wing structures.  I think the aspects of failure that you refer to were a product of a design strategy that did not have the very clever finite-element software that is part and parcel of every strength of materials package used in design today.

  36. Steven I agree with you about removing winglets from the cars and simplifying aerodynamics – but I thought this was one of the suggestions from the OWG? Have I remembered that wrong?

  37. Re: variable wings,
    The issue isn’t so much that it’s not possible to design a wing that won’t break as that racing design rewards designing a wing that’s as close to breaking as humanly possible, and someone will eventually screw up and get too close, causing a truly gigantic crash.

  38. I thinke ferrari will offer alonso for contract of 2009. Kimi and Massa is fast but not “strong” enogh to keep winnig.
    Only alonso can do the same job as Michal did, though I want him to stay and re-build Renaunt like michal did at ferrari.

  39. I seem to recall Montezemolo stating last year, that Ferrari drivers would prosper with the ban on traction control, and some of the younger less experienced drivers would struggle. I find it hilarious that the only driver appearing to struggle is one of his own.

  40. Bry – I’d forgotten about that, good point. And it’s particularly interesting given that many people think Montezemolo is the one pushing for Alonso to replace Massa at Ferrari. Was he putting pressure on him?

  41. He said: "I’m at Renault because I wanted to get back to winning, like in 2005 and 2006". What, did he not win anything last year?

    “But I have an option to leave so I can be in the best possible car, and it is clear Ferrari is one of the best.” Looks like Alonso’s sights are fixed on Massa’s seat.

  42. That has to be the dumbest statement made by a raing driver in years.

  43. Massa said this yesterday: "On lap 31, I clipped the kerb at the exit of turn six and hit it quite hard and then I lost the rear end going into the next corner. We have to check to see if the impact with the kerb damaged the car."

  44. David Redfern
    26th March 2008, 9:55

    Hi, New here but interested in the comments regarding Massa and especially Alonso. I can’t see Massa being ditched before the end of the season no matter how bad it gets, he will simply be told to forget winning and concentrate on finishing. There are really no alternative drivers out there unless someone is brought up from the lesser formulas and they will have to get acclimatised to the car which will take half a season anyway.

    As for Alonso going to Ferrari, I really doubt Kimi would countenance that, Alonso was caught by surprise last year by a better driver than him with equal machinery. Ron Dennis paid him tens of millions of pounds and he was thrashed by a rookie on a fraction of his salary. Logically Ron should have given Alonso preferential treatment because of the money he was paying him but that’s not McLaren’s philosophy so Alonso threw his teddies out the pram and then stabbed Ron in the back by threatening to release details of emails on the Ferrari spy scandal. Ron may not be squeaky clean but I admire him for not buckling under Alonso’s threat and aware of the possible consequences he went to the FIA with what had happened and what he knew. Bravo Ron, he and McLaren stood firm and took every accusation thrown at them on the chin and took the punishment without complaint. Personally, I don’t believe Ferrari, if they were irresponsible enough to let an employee walk out their premises with highly sensitive documents they deserve all they get.

    So what’s that got do do with Alonso going to Ferrari? If I were team principle I would trust the guy about as far as I could throw him, if I were his team mate I would be looking for another job as the guy seems to be a control freak like Shumacher but with neither the ability nor the personality to rally an entire company round him to help him win as much as he did before being virtually sacked by Monezomelo. That decision alone may cost Ferrari dearly as with Ross Brawn going to Honda you better believe Michael has been calling Ross asking how things are going?……….Barrichello’s contract is up at the end of the year, Honda much like Ferrari have the resources and the team spirit to rally round a driver like Michael, poor Jenson won’t like it but much like Barrichello he will be in a fantastic team with a team leader second to none. Watch Honda!

    I don’t believe Alonso will get a job at Ferrari without losing Kimi, if not in the first year certainly in the second year.

  45. How would Alonso ever cope with Kimi as a team mate… he had enough trouble being paired with Hamilton.

  46. Lots of interesting comments here on Massa, Ferrari and Alonso.  To save my poor fingers typing out my thoughts again, I’ll direct you to my new blog at, where I’ve written a good deal on these matters over the last week or so, if Keith doesn’t mind!

    Watching the video over and over again, it is a strange one, isn’t it?  It seems to catch him completely unawares.  Today Massa has said (quoted on that the cars are more difficult to drive on the limit without electronic driver aids but that his spin was caused by a ‘different problem’ not related to a lack of TC.  What that different problem is, he didn’t elaborate.  I fancy that Martin Brundle rather hit the nail on the head when he commented that it was a simple case of ‘ambition getting the better of adhesion’…

    There’s going to be a lot of pressure on Massa to get it right going into Bahrain.  He really needs a big result, otherwise it could all start to unravel.  He seems pretty phlegmatic about it – a la Michael – but he must be feeling the strain.  This is going to be an interesting storyline to watch as it develops.  Throw the Alonso rumours into the mix and this has the possibility to get quite interesting into the summer…

  47. I don’t think that Ferrari think much of kimi as much as they did for Michal.
    Ferrari wants Alonso even if it will become a risk for losing Kimi.
    So Massa is now in tough situation.

    I also think Mclaren will have a tough season this year without Alonso.
    Can Hamilton live up to Rom’s expectations?
    Alonso played an important role in developing and setting last year in Maclaren.

    Not only Massa, but Kimi and Hamilton should be more strong. Their races so far has not deserved their cars and teams.

  48. I reckon that Massa was irritated at being told to slow at let Kimi past (two and a half seconds in a lap or two – no way), and he overcooked it. Never mind, always good to see Massa’s career, sorry, a Ferrari in the gravel.

  49. And if Alonso does move, who would hire him should he throw another McLaren-type tantrum? Would you hire a driver to bedhops as often?

  50. Andy Smith (Canada)
    28th March 2008, 15:59

    Dirty .Dirty move he pulled on Coulthard in Aus.guess he has to resort to tactics like that.
    Clearly his seat is up for grabs,give it to  a Tonio Luitzi he deserves more than #3.

  51. Yeah Massa’s move on Coulthard was stupid… anyone could tell he wasn’t going to get through. He should have waited for a corner with a wider entry. M Schumacher used to crash into people to beat them on points; Massa has it all wrong… he’s not even got any points yet! Haha

  52. David Redfern
    28th March 2008, 22:54

    Sorry, off topic bt I’m a Scot and should support Coulthard but he’s been a number two since he came into F1, best teams, best cars best support and he’s never won a championship. He has, however, the biggest balls in the paddock as he was the only one to regularly square up to and bang wheels with Michael who seemed to gain a Senna like reputation of yield or crash so to get pitched off by an idiot like Massassin is doubly frustrating for DC. No wonder he threatened to punch 3 piles of **** out the little *******.

  53. Anyone else remember coulthards two-finger salute to Micheal as he overtook him a few years ago! Priceless!!

  54. David Redfern
    30th March 2008, 17:27

    Thats what I mean about DC, if it were anyone else Michael would have gone to the stewards, as it was when Schumacher ran into the back of DC in the rain, when he was slowing they evidently came to blows in the pits. Probably swinging handbags but everyone else would have just backed down to Michael.

    There is a goos video on Google of Senna trying to dress Michael down after they tangled and Senna came off second best. Michael is looking at Senna as if he’s mad before Senna realises he’s on a loser and backs off climbing over a barrier sniping and bitching as he goes.

    Ah the good old days!

  55. He did the job in Bahrain today!

    Go Felipe!

  56. David Redfern
    7th April 2008, 10:44

    That was a great drive and not a slide in site, think he’s been reading this site?

    Hopefully all Hamilton’s, Button’s, Coulthard’s and Davidson’s bad luck is coming at the beginning of the season, but really, didn’t the McLaren look pants compared to Ferrari and BMW, not even close, and in contrast, didn’t Barrichello’s Honda look promising.

  57. god-awful driver…he used lower wings to gain more top speed. Kimi was stuck with the previous model.

  58. Have you got a link to any information about the wings David? I didn’t see anything about that.

  59. Jesus people, you always have to judge and argue…

    Massa is in Ferrari for a reason.

  60. Terry Fabulous
    10th November 2008, 2:55

    Hey remember this issue WAY back in March?

    Didn’t he pull himself together!

    Makes you wonder whether he actually lost the championship way back with an impetuous move on DC and stupid error at Malaysia.

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