Domenicali praises Massa’s “return to form” in Malaysia

2011 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Sepang, 2011

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domicali says Felipe Massa’s performance in the Malaysian Grand Prix marked a “return to form” for the driver.

Massa finished fifth in Sepang after being delayed by a slow pit stop earlier in the race.

Domenicali said: “Felipe drove to a very high standard, showing a return to form and Fernando was very aggressive, which is always good for a driver.”

He said Massa’s problem in the pits highlighted another area where the team need to improve: “The trend for more tyre changes means our pit stop crew guys are always under pressure, so the chance of making mistakes is higher.

“If Formula 1 has always been a case of having a package made up of the driver and the team, then that is even more the case now requiring a different approach to the races.”

Domenicali added the team are making “a big push to understand our lack of performance.”

“We need to push a lot to upgrade our aero package because aerodynamics is the key to it all. We will try and bring as quickly as possible the upgrades, maybe already in China, that we require.

“We need to understand as soon as possible why the performance on track has not matched the figures coming out of the wind tunnel. If we have not a clear picture, then we need to change the direction of the work we are doing in terms of development.”

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    51 comments on “Domenicali praises Massa’s “return to form” in Malaysia”

    1. Yeh it was a good result for Felipe that was kind of overlooked. Finishing ahead of Alonso will definitely help raise that confidence, and I think we’ve witnessed that Felipe is definitely a ‘confidence driver’. Just look at 2008.

      1. I doubt being ahead of Alonso will give him that much satisfaction. He was still slower and had it not been for the incident with Hamilton wouldn’t have come 5th. Sure the pit stop slowed him down but you know Alonso’s stops weren’t clockwork either.

        I want to see Massa challenging the top again, he was the reason I loved the 2008 season and am still ruing that fuel hose in Singapore.

        1. I will have to agree. Talking speed only, Massa still was far away from Alonso.

        2. UKfanatic (@)
          12th April 2011, 14:58

          I still remenber that move double overtaking in canada great stuff

          1. Here here, he was so inspiring in 08, and despite Hamilton being a better driver overall, I really feel Massa had the measure of him that year and was more deserving of the championship. He suffered more misfortune than Hamilton, had more wins, more fastest laps and averaged 6.06 points per finish whereas Hamilton only managed 5.76 points per finish.

            1. Massa had the best car and he made his fair share of mistakes despite that which for me takes away from his year. The 08 Ferrari really was a great car, and now he’s having to drive a not so great car his skills or lack of are being exposed especially when compared to a top driver like Alonso.

            2. The F2008 was a great car and Massa has had to struggle with much worse cars in the time since, but he really was beginning to shine in the dog slow F60 before his accident.

              Mclaren’s MP4-23 in 08′ was no slouch however and though slightly slower than the Ferrari overall, it was the faster car on many tracks that season.

              The 2 biggest mistakes for Massa in 08 were his blown engine 3 laps from victory in Hungary and the pit blunder while leading in Singapore, neither of which were his fault.

              You can give Hamilton back the win in Belgium, but take away those two mistakes by the team and Massa would have beaten him to the WDC easily. Sure Felipe made mistakes of his own, as did Hamilton, but give the guy some credit.

    2. 5th when two of the guys ahead of him got into trouble and Webber didn’t have KERS off the line. Plus he only just finished ahead of his team-mate who was on an extra unscheduled stop and had a lap of limping around with a broken wing. Great performance…

      Actually if you add on Alonso’s pit stop time, in-lap and out-lap, you’d probably be very close to the deficit Massa had to him in in Australia.

      If this is a return to form then I have to ask who this Felipe Massa is, because the one I remember in form was a hell of a lot better and would have got a podium on merit.

      1. I feel bad for him. The team are willing him on, but i just don’t think he has the pace anymore

      2. For a more balanced view you might consider Felipe’s bad pitstop (costing him 6 seconds alone in pitlane, plus other time lost having to pass other cars), and the fact that Fernando got a 5th set of tyres, which meant that he got a big advantage in the last 10 laps.

        1. Well said. Too many pessimists on here just looking at the situation at face value. Dig a little deeper and you start to unearth the facts.

        2. What are you on about, are you saying having a 4th pit stop gave Alonso an advantage? In what sense? He was going to run till the end of the race on his 4th set of tyres which would’ve got him a podium or at worst 4th, as a result of coming in for a new wing and tyres he ended up 6th by the end of the race.

          And then you say Felipe lost 6 seconds, he did but compare that a 27 second pit stop and going round a lap with a damaged Front wing and even then still coming out only 3 tenths in front of Alonso by the end of the race.

          The facts are Felipe’s Qualifying and Race pace is not up to Alonso’s standards and this race wasn’t much better than Melbourne.

          1. I am saying that the 5th set of tyres allowed him to catch Felipe significantly in the last few laps.

      3. He was ahead of Alonso on the first lap, like in Australia, thanks to a superb start and Alonso’s bad start. He remained ahead until the pit error which made him angry and I think he then gave up a bit.

        1. Alonso was a lot quicker. The only thing Massa did the entire race that was any good was his start.

          Good drivers do well on their own. Massa needs other drivers to suffer misfortune in order to do well.

          1. While Massa wasn’t as fast as Alonso this weekend, he was alot better than what the results show.

            1) The whole, Alonso being just behind despite a new set of tyres. Alonso did changes tyres late and have a pit stop. You can’t just rule out the extra pit stop without the tyres. Alonso probably lost around 10-15 seconds due to that stop because he made quite abit up with the new tyres. So he wasn’t a pit stop ahead, he was a pit stop MINUS a few laps he couldn’t have done with old rubber

            2) THe reaosn why Alonso did it was because of Alonso’s mistake. If Massa had spun and then had to change his wing and tyres because of it then people would say it was Massa’s fault. It’ was Alonso’s fault that he had to do that. So the extra time lost (25 second stop – extra speed) was Alonso’s FAULT alone.

            3) Massa lost 6 seconds in the pit stop. Sure that may not sound like much, but it threw him out of position and lost him much more due to where he came out instead. Overall Stratergy wise I’m talking.

            4) Massa with Alonso straight after the start. People say Alonso is a fast driver, ergo to stay with him made Massa’s performance fast.

            So sure Massa may not have been faster than Alonso this weekend, but going by the Massa lucked into Pwhatever and Alonso was a full pit stop ahead…. IS RUBBISH.

            I’m not a Massa fan, I’d much prefer to see Webber win, and last year I was hoping either Alonso or Hamilton would take it if Webber couldn’t, but today Massa drove better than what it looked like

            1. I have to agree. Alonso made a rookie mistake and that forced him to pit again: his fault. For two races in a row now Massa quali behind Alonso but finished the first lap ahead of Alonso. When he went to pits, he was still ahead.
              But to me the BEST of Massa is that you will never hear him blaming other drivers for his mistakes, particularly the drivers ahead of him.

    3. Felipe was awesome in Malaysia. Hope he does get winnign ways

      1. If Hamilton and Alonso can’t get to their winning ways, do you really think Massa will? The competition is even more fierce than in 2010 so he doesn’t really stand a chance.

        1. That’s a wee bit harsh and pessimistic don’t you think Klaas?

          I absolutely expect that both Hamilton and Alonso will win a race at some point this year and it would not surprise me at all if Massa did either. People are calling for a Heidfeld win, and if he can do that in a Renault, surely Massa, Alonso, Hamilton, Button, Webber, and maybe even Petrov have a chance, not to mention the Mercedes boys.

          1. I have no doubts about Alonso and Hamilton either, it’s Massa whom I doubt.

            1. All those people are capable of winning WDC. But while vettel still there with dominant RB. These “fast” guys are watching the moon. :)

    4. Oh Domenicali, you’re such a kidder!

    5. It was a good result for Massa and it’s good for Domenicali to come out and say so.

      Keep it up Massa, we don’t want you getting bogged down in the Ferrari-Alonso love affair.

      1. Agree, I want to see Massa putting in good results and not let Ferrari become a 1 man team.

        1. Amen!! They are better when they are a two car team and far more enjoyable to watch.

          Alonso is no Michael,
          therefore Massa should not have to be a Rubens.

          1. They would be better if they were a three car team…if you listen to Montezemolo ;)

            1. Hahaha, nice one :)

    6. How the hell is finishing 5th a good result? It looks like Stefano doesn’t have very high expectations of Massa.

      1. That’s like saying his drive at Hungary 2008 was bad because he didn’t finish.

        There’s more ways to evaluate a drive than the finishing position.

        1. I agree. But he did finish, and in 5th position. Additionally, he couldn’t match the race pace of his teammate, or the Mclaren of Jenson Button, or the Red Bull of Webber. He was fine just finishing in front of one of the Renaults. It was an average performance at best.. hardly a ‘return to form’, and absolutely nowhere close to his 2007 and 2008 form.

          1. Well his pace was very good compared to Alonso in the 1st and 3rd stint in particular, looking at the times in the Race Review. We didn’t get a fair comparison on the harder tyres as Fernando had to make an extra stop.

            If Alonso was so much faster, he would probably have overtaken Felipe in the first stint.

            Comparing him against Webber in the best car isn’t really appropriate, and don’t forget Massa caught Button early in the race. Obviously Button was much better on the harder tyre.

            1. So what you are trying to say is that Felipe drove on the same pace as Fernando, and finished less than a second in front of him although Fernando made an extra unscheduled pit stop? And that Felipe couldn’t match the fastest car on the grid, although Webber lost a lot of ground at the start and was without KERS for an entire race, and made an extra pit stop. Button was quick on the hard tyre, but wasn’t all that quick in the 1st stint, and yet Felipe couldn’t get in front of him.

              This doesn’t really sound like a driver in top form.

          2. I think everyone needs to calm down here. Domenicali didn’t call it a top performance, he didn’t say it was excellent, he said it was a “return to form” and for that part I agree. Nobody expected Massa to light the track on fire like he did in 07-08, his boss is merely commenting that after a lackluster end to last season and a poor result in Australia that Felipe had a good start, put in good times and had some good battles on track this weekend. It wasn’t incredible, but it was a positive sign from a driver who has had to deal with a lot, not the least of all nearly every forum posting fan chanting for his demise. So give the guy some credit, and we’ll see where he can go from here.

    7. A good result for Felipe, but he didnt really set the world on fire with his drive, did he? He just drove to the finish and managed fifth after his team mate lost his nose and Hamilton burnt out his forth set of tyres.

    8. Some drivers need nothing more than complete confidence from their team, their environment, their management.

      Massa is obviously one of this type.

      And so what? What’s the worst that can happen from corporate praise as Ferrari is seemingly developing back to where they should be with RBR and McLaren?

      Ferrari realize that while giving Alonso keys to the team is in their best interest, having a completely downtrodden and beaten number two helps no one.

      1. “Ferrari realize that while giving Alonso keys to the team is in their best interest, having a completely downtrodden and beaten number two helps no one.”


        1. It helped MSC…

          1. Yes, but Alonso, despite what the Spanish press might have to say, is certainly no MSC.

            1. Agree. MSC took a good solid 5 seasons to build the team around him and take the title… I expect Alonso to do it sooner.

            2. Todfod,

              in many respects Alonso is inheriting the team that Schumi built. Shumacher, Brawn and Byrne are no longer there, but they created a competitive team again that has remained competitive long after their departure.

              Schumacher came to a team that hadn’t won a Drivers or Constructors Championship in over a decade.

              Alonso has inherited a team that has competed for or won one (or both) of those championships in 12 of the last 14 years.

              That is a HUGE difference.

    9. His days at Ferrari still numbered though

    10. His days at Ferrari are still numbered though

    11. SennaNmbr1 (@)
      12th April 2011, 20:38

      Can’t wait to see if Massa has another pit-stop problem if he’s in front of Alonso in China.

      1. Hahaha, this might be true. Absolutely!!

    12. He did a good job but the thing which he lack is keeping things cool under pressure. He have improved a lot but can he beat Alonso with the same machine? I doubt that.

      1. So they weren’t driving the same machine on Sunday?

    13. He’s a confidence driver, pure and simple. I’m happy to hear those around him pump his tyres up as much as much as possible if it gets his mindframe back to when he was at his peak, because we’d all love to see a competitive Felipe!

    14. massa is a class act… a great driver… and this is definitely a return to form this year… his defense against button in the aus was superb and his starts are consistent… he drove a good race in sepang… he may be a “confidence” driver, but here we are just out of the chute in 2011 and he is def on the up… big red needs some aero help to balance out the lack of hp… other than drs being shat… and kers being shat… and the tires being shat… i am looking forward to how this season pans out… alonso has some great raw skill… i def do not count him out… tho massa is my fav… just a great guy and so humble in the interview room and on the podium…

      1. just a great guy and so humble in the interview room and on the podium…

        Couldn’t agree with you more open mind!
        A class act indeed.

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