Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Barcelona, 2011

Massa happy with tyres but believes Red Bull are ahead

2011 F1 season

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Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Barcelona, 2011
Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Barcelona, 2011

Felipe Massa says he’s happy with how the new Pirelli tyres are working following his difficulties with the Bridgestone tyres last year.

Speaking after his last test before the Australian Grand Prix he said: “It?s completely different, the way to work the tyres is completely different to last year.

“In qualifying for sure you?ll have the grip, a reasonable grip. You will be able to use the car more or less in a good direction.

“Then in the race it?s the opposite. I guess you won?t have the grip as the tyres will degrade.

“We will be using lots of tyres and the pit stops will increase. For sure it will be much more different than last year when we were stopping once. The way of racing will be different with high degradation and more pit stops.”

He said the change should suit him: “For qualifying I like this. I was struggling with the hard tyre so I like this direction.

“For the race for sure it won?t be easy, it will be difficult. The tyres are degrading a lot for everybody, so this is something we need to see as it?s too early to say.”

He said the upgrade Ferrari ran at the test was an improvement:

“It?s better, we have more downforce in the car which is better when the tyres degrade quite a lot. The package works well, it?s more or less the package for the race.

“So now the next thing is to do good in the championship. Anyway the package is an improvement and the car is just better.”

Asked if he agreed with Mark Webber that Ferrari were the favourites he tipped said Red Bull were the team to beat:

“Red Bull are the team that won last year and secondly they are very quick. Even yesterday Vettel did a very quick time. So I say Red Bull.

“But I hope Mark Webber is right!”

He said he wasn’t sure if Ferrari might have better long-run pace than Red Bull: “That was the case last year. But they had a very quick car so even if we were able to improve in the race it wasn?t easy to beat them.

“So this year is a bit difficult to know because I saw some runs from them and they were quick. It was quick even at the end.

“I think it?s very difficult to say at the moment, I think we need to wait until everyone is together on the same fuel and similar tyres. It?s not easy to give this answer.”

But he admitted race performance may be more important than qualifying performance this year:

“Qualifying is always important as you are fighting for the best position in the race, so for sure it?s very important. It will stay very important.

“But, looking how the tyres degrade, looking how the strategy will change, maybe things will be a little bit different in the race compared to last year. The possibility of mistakes will be higher because you have no grip.

“So the strategy will be even more important to find the best direction for the strategy. The way you use your tyres, the way the car uses the tyres. Especially with the wings, we?ll see how easy it will be to overtake or not.”

Quotes and additional reporting by Leandra Graves

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Keith Collantine
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39 comments on “Massa happy with tyres but believes Red Bull are ahead”

  1. I agree with him. For sure.

  2. Felipe baby stay cool, Alonso might only woop you a little this season.

  3. “I need a white TIRE, a white TIRE!”

    1. triple massa quote combo!

  4. I think FM sums up very well the reality this year both for testing and for the upcoming season. It’s going to be a bit of a crap shoot during races as to who is fast when, and how they handle tire degradation and pit stops. Methinks races will only show the true running order once all the top teams have done all their pitstops for the day. And even then, lots can happen in the final stints depending on who slows the most or least as the tires fall off. And not all tracks treat the tires the same, some tracks being more abrasive than others, so that will throw some curve balls into the mix too. Furthermore, it’s being said that the new tires, degrading as they do, create lots of marbles on the track, so that will make for some dicey and risky passing attempts as the final stints wind down.

  5. No I think Ferrari is better in race.RBR might be faster in quali.Also,Williams,Mercedes and Mclaren ll be ok as well.

    Massa: RBR faster.
    Vettel&Webber:who knows?
    Luca:Dont care about times,everybody hides bit and we trust…
    Martin:We ll fight for title
    Button: we r slow
    Hamilton:we r slow but we ll be back

    see all of these are psychological WAR!..

    1. Mclaren II?? The way it’s looking a Mclaren MKII would be a big help!!

    2. UKfanatic (@)
      11th March 2011, 15:39

      the truth

      Martin is very worried but he thinks he has taken an gamble and it may prove right.

      Luca is in alot of pressure he almost exploding

      Massa and Alonso they trully think that the red horse wont beat the bull…yet

      But and Ham are hungry for more and over negative, they just arent trusting their team despite the team saying that they will be on top.

      Vet and Web know that the fight is between them both they dont care about other teams they know that they will be the fastest

  6. I start to be afraid: very high degradation tyres means a lot of pit stops…and why overtaking a car if it is five laps from its next pit stop???
    I’m afraid the increase number of stops will act as a reduction factor for overtake attempts.

    1. With 3 pit-stops per car, times 24 equals ~70 per race.

      70 pit-stops per race! That’s madness.

      1. u want 1 pit and no unknow races I think.or u support lewis and u know that he cant protect tyress.imagine every race as CANADA.

        I suggest u to watch 2004 France.
        Fernando 3 pit.
        Schumi 4 pit.

    2. That, and reading Barrichello warning of risk of flat spots from overtakes gone wrong, doesn’t sound good.

      But I like how Massa “reads” in this interview, a lot better than during the last half of 2010; hopeful and eager to race.

      1. Flat spotting tyres is something that you try to avoid anyway. Remember back to 2005 for a time when you definitely ‘did not’ want to flat spot your tyre. You could change the tyre, but you also had to take a penalty.

        1. SennaNmbr1 (@)
          10th March 2011, 19:27

          I remember the Malaysian GP of that year to be quite good, with people driving round towards the end on knackered tyres. I can’t wait for the season to start.

      2. I agree. Great to see Massa happy and highlighting the postitives about these tyres. Massa for Melbourne pole!

        From watching how testing unfolded I had the impression he really found a good way with the tyres esp. in qualli runs but their race degradation looks to be a tad better than the Red Bull. Just make no stupid mistakes during the stops, and your there Felipe!

        Now that would be a great result, when has Massa done great in Australia before?

        1. Massa was 3rd last year, but apart from that, Melbourne hasn’t been one of his great tracks.

          He hasn’t had much luck there, with an engine failure in 2008 (indirectly cost him the championship) and a mechanical problem in 2007 which meant he had to start from last.

      3. I would be more worried if Rubens was whining.

    3. If the cars are on different strategies, even slightly different strategies, you will mostly see overtaking on the track.

      You may even see an HRT unlap itself at some point, such will be the difference when it’s on new tyres compared to a Red Bull on old tyres.

      1. Such are the difference that they will simply drive straight past each other. Great.

  7. Good point…something more to watch for…I suppose one possiblity is that if said car is terribly slow, it might be necessary to overtake even if it is close to pitting…I take your point though…

  8. I guess Massa has no excuses and nowhere to hide now. If he likes the tyres, and you would presume he has got over his injury now then there should be nothing stopping him mixing it with the big boys at the front. Lets hope he has the talent to do that.

    On a side note, the article took much longer than it normally would to read, having Katy Perry on the side advertisment was seriously distracting. This however is by no means a complaint ;)

    1. I have a complaint then – She didn’t show up to distract me.

    2. Does not really look like he is looking for excuses here. More like enjoying the chance of a good qualli run after a frustrating year.

  9. Only Lewis will be flat spotting his tires :P

    1. We can take it then that you aren’t a Lewis fan?

      Most drivers will avoid flat spotting their tyres whatever the tyre regulations are. So if you do flat spot your tyres it’s not going to be different to any other time when drivers flat spotted their tyres.

      You only have to go back to 2005 (I know that’s a while ago for most on here) to see a time when if you flat spotted your tyre during the race, that was pretty much that!

    2. I would expect to see Vettel do some of that as well and a load of others.
      The upside is, the tyres don’t last long anyhow, so maybe coming in a few laps early wont hurt your race as much as coming in early with a 1 stopper did.

  10. I’m happy that Massa feels much more comfortable with this years tires and car. What if Alonso suddenly gets this message: “Massa is clearly faster than You! Confirm You understood this message!”;-)

    1. To let Massa lap him?

  11. I hope he will surprise us – and Alonso! What a comeback it would be if he outdrove his teammate. Who complains more about the tyres, but also complains more in general… Bring it on!

  12. For sure he sounds positive this year.

  13. Go Felipe, beat Fernando now please!

    1. I would love it.But the spaniard is too good to be beaten. Massa doesn’t fare well on all circuits whereas Alonso is Mr.Consistent, yet i expect him to beat Alonso occasionally

  14. Im looking forward to the season. But all the speculation, much as I love it reminds me of:

    “There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.
    But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
    —Former United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

    Every year we hope for better racing and unpredictable variables, but one ‘known known’ we know from past experience is that the teams sort out the upredictability pretty quickly and start to follow suit and patterns emerge. Alot of the good racing we’ve had recently can be put down to the different strengths and weaknesses of the cars, be they better in rain or slow circuits or kinder on their tyres.

    Anyway I hope its a cracker uear – I cant wait for the start of the season and how great is it that the first race is in Melbourne where enough people actually still care about it, on an interesting circuit – with unpredicatble weather (its been a wet summer here), and not in the middle of a middle eastern desert.

  15. It’s important that Massa shows his pace on Saturday so that he can fight on Sunday. This season he have to leap Alonso, that is the one & only big target of his. So I hope what he says stays with him.

  16. If massa consistantly outperforms alonso in 2011 I will get a full length tattoo of a ferrari car done on my back (I do not like ferrari mind you) and a tattoo of massas face done on my backside.

    1. I am going to hold you to that!

  17. Does anybody know the figures for inters ? I mean, if it’s damp / rainy, will they be able to run more than 20 laps ?

  18. If he’ll struggle this year he’ll have no excuses.

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