Race conditions were “dangerous” – Massa

2014 Japanese Grand Prix

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Felipe Massa believes the weather conditions were “dangerous” at more than one stage during the Japanese Grand Prix.

Speaking to Sky after the race was cut short following an accident which injured Jules Bianchi, Massa said: “First of all we need to know what happened to Jules. I’m very worried that he just hit the truck at the end of the race.”

The race was started following a suspension and ten laps behind the Safety Car, but Massa said they should have waited longer to begin the grand prix.

“In my opinion they start the race too early,” he said. “It was not drive-able at the very beginning.”

The rain eased in the middle of the race but intensified towards the end of the grand prix, which was scheduled for 53 laps. It was red-flagged on the 46th lap after a Bianchi’s crash, and Massa said he had complained about the worsening conditions before that point.

“They finished too late the race,” said Massa. “I was already screaming on the radio five laps before the Safety Car that there was too much water on the track.”

“But then they just took a little bit too long and it was dangerous. So we saw that there was some crash at the end and just need to understand what’s happened to Jules, that’s my only worry in the moment.”

Asked if the race should have been started earlier in the day to avoid the forecast rain Massa said “Yeah – or maybe yesterday.”

However Jenson Button said the conditions at the beginning of the race were “safe”.

“When the race started it was fine,” he told reporters at Suzuka. “I came straight in and put [intermediates] on.”

“It’s a fine line between having too much spray and not being able to see, and the tyres not being the right tyre.”

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Keith Collantine
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72 comments on “Race conditions were “dangerous” – Massa”

  1. I guess that from MAssa’s Williams the conditions seemed worse than from some other cars as it proved not all that great. Much the same towards the end probably. But Massa has never been a fan of rain racing, and that surely is a factor as well.

    Others have mentioned it might have been better to stop it a couple of laps earlier (including Sutil), but that the start was fine.

    1. Steph (@stephanief1990)
      5th October 2014, 10:58

      I don’t want to say Massa’s comments are due to his record in the wet (which is always made out to be poorer than it actually is) but he’s always been very safety conscious iirc. Maybe it’s because of his own accident or he’s just aware of how quickly things can change. As I’ve said before a lot of concerns have been raised about many areas of today’s race. Sutil also said drivers weren’t even asked about safety before the race too.

      1. Vettel said the same, even mentioning how both in 1976 and today commercial considerations took a front seat in deciding the race should be run (and not ran earlier) and when it ended.

    2. Also saying the track is very wet could mean you’re asking for wet tyres.

      It’s very opportunistic of him to claim that meant he wanted the race stopped.

      1. I was thinking similarly, if he was still running intermediates instead of full wets one can only conclude that a call for the race to end was more to do with tactics than a genuine concern for his safety.

  2. If Jenson could switch to inters from the safety car coming in and go as fast as the Mercs up front, I would disagree with the notion that the track wasn’t “driveable”. Spray is another matter though.

    1. Like the recent wet CanadianGP the race should have started half a dozen laps earlier, nothing was being gained by following the safety car till a change to inters was feasible.

  3. I agree that they red flagged the race to late. However, I do think they started it when it was possible to race. It seems the track itself was fine quite quick but the spray was always very tricky.

  4. If he indeed thought it was that dangerous he should have pulled in and retired. Just because other cars have the downforce and grip to go faster than him doesn’t mean they should stop the race.

    1. My thoughts exactly, lets not forget that Lauda once pulled out of a championship deciding race at Fuji because he thought it was too dangerous to continue so if Massa genuinely considered the conditions too dangerous today he should have retired the car.

      1. Guys that is really disgusting. We’ve had a driver seriously injured, we still don’t know if he’s ok. I think it’s fair to say that the conditions were significantly dangerous. What you guys are suggesting is pitting drivers want to succeed against safety. That’s really irresponsible.

        1. No, mass hysteria and blaming everybody else is what is disgusting.

          1. I’m not blaming anyone. I don’t think anyone is at fault. I think we can learn from this, but that’s different than blaming. I think perhaps look at making zones on the outsides of corners, where if they need to recover a vehicle from there they bring out the safety car.

            And if I’m hysterical for realizing that putting a drivers ambition against his need for safety isn’t a great idea, then go and watch, then fine.

            But I’m not comfortable with what happened on Sunday. And you shouldn’t be either.

          2. Stop this, am gonna puke. You are using an unfortunate incident to start silly over-sentimental illogical finger blaming.
            And the way you are trying to take the suppose high road with sentences like this “But I’m not comfortable with what happened on Sunday. And you shouldn’t be either.” by using the incident as a step is also disgusting.

            There is only one problem here and it was something i mentioned many times before personally and is not the race running. The conditions weren’t non-drivable at all and am sorry to say this but this is typical Massa jumping bandwagons and blaming this and that like he does against other drivers when he gets in an incident with them without thinking.
            The only problem is having a movable crane vehicle entering the track. It’s something that happens a lot and the FIA need to think something. Especially considering the height of this vehicles from the ground seems to be perfectly in the line of a drivers helmet.

  5. Formula-I (@)
    5th October 2014, 10:25

    i remmeber at Lap 40 or 41 that commentators said that the conditions.is pretty poor to drive. I wonder why FIA did not do a 2009 Malaysian GP style

    1. The conditions were fine.

  6. He is right, they started a race with a safety car just to stop it with a red flag, restart it following a safety car again for another 6 or 7 laps! They race till there was a serious accident and on top of that according to FIA first statement the helicopter could not fly due to bad weather!

    1. It will be interesting to see the radio transcripts, I think a few drivers were complaining of worsening conditions in the late 30s.

      1. Obviously then they would have changed to full wets before that.

  7. With all due respect, it is hard to take Massas word for it. At the start, when everyone was asking Charlie to let them race, Massa was saying the conditions were undrivable. And we also know the Williams handled really poorly in the wet today. So there’s that.

    1. Ha! I just wrote about near the same after you.

  8. Is hard to take for granted the opinion of a person who is complaining about everything, all the time. Massa’s mouth is always open to criticize, to complain, to justify his fails, etc… Pffff. What a waste

    1. Couldn’t have said it better. I knew he will be the first to jump and start making silly bandwagon comments about the race like that etc. What he thinks by always reacting like that i have no idea.

  9. Look, I forecast aviation meteorology for a living, and I have two points:
    1) Cyclones of any ocean are rich with turbulence and low-level wind shear. Once past a certain point, even a medevac helicopter cannot fly.
    2) As I have access to certain information as per my duties, I broke out in a vulgar tirade when I saw inaction with a typhoon track shifting north.

    I was at the Nurburgring in 2007, and cheered my lungs off for Winkelhock, all while I saw the last lap of the my most recent countyman to turn a lap in anger in F1.

    There was no good reason for refusing to postpone the race until the scheduled time. All that was needed was one hour.

    BTW, I am sick of seeing races comprised by poor weather calls.

    1. Refusing not to advance the race one hour…

      1. One reason. Contracts. Money. Bernie…. Butlets not forget… We are all part of the show… The drivers, bernie & co, and us tv glued watchers..

  10. After looking at the pictures, it seems more than understood that the Marussia made a very heavy contact with the troctor, continued rolling underneath, and settled below the tractor.

    This would have exposed Jules’ s head directly to the tractor’s underbody.

    And then they talk about track safety, Safety car, FIA, FOM, Management……

    It is high time that the safety in F1 should be given a big upgrade.

    Jules, race your way back to us.

    1. This was a terrible accident. But it was a ‘freak’ accident. Safety standards in F1 are about as good as they can be without sitting the drivers in simulator cockpits as they remote control the real cars.
      Motorsport is dangerous. Racing very high powered machines in close proximity around tight twisting circuits at very high speeds. The danger element is intrinsic to the spectacle. No, I don’t wish for drivers to get hurt just as much as they themselves don’t want to get hurt. But high risk is very much at the heart of any motorsport.

      People die playing football, riding horses, skiing etc.etc.

      People die all the time, some preventable, some not. It’s a fact of life.

      Safety in F1 is deeply impressive to say the least. For something like this to happen means there are no doubt areas for improvement still. But to knee-jerk legislate and dumb down the sport even more for this random incident would be a huge mistake.

      Remember Silverstone this year? About an hour to fix a distortion in the Armco?

      Of course they’re always thinking about safety!

      1. “Motorsport is dangerous.”

        Yes it is, but it being that way, that doesn’t make it ok.

        This isn’t a random incident. Not in the least. If one car can aquaplane off a piece of road then a second can as well. That they have to be aware of that. normally when there is a chance of a retired car being hit, they bring out the safety car. But they didn’t? Why? Probably because so many fans think like you do and get upset when they bring it out, given they’d already had it out at the start. Maybe they didn’t think it could happen?

        Whatever the reason, safety NEEDS to go before entertainment. And if it makes the sport less exciting? So be it. I’ll not have my fun at the expense of someone else’s life.

  11. and yet he didn’t change to full wets at the time?

    1. The teams are so keen at putting the intermediates on, it makes things dangerous. Maybe we could enforce a rule where all drivers have to switch to full wet tyres?

      1. Nobody can judge perfectly when the right time is to switch between inters and full wet tires, never mind do it for each team and even then team’s cars may be set up differently. It’s unrealistic to have FIA dictate that. F1 is a dangerous and competitive sport and crashes are expected. As bad a today turned out for Jules, I don’t see much more that can be done for safety apart from introducing maximum speeds / time that driver has to drive in yellow flag zone.

    2. The change of tyres does not take out the risk of aquaplaning, what was the problem on the track. Apart from this, change of tyres doesn’t solve the visibility problem. The question was not that HE was not able to drive (he was, by the way), the question is that he is very aware of the risk on that conditions, more than others, probably because his previous life-threatening accident.

  12. Massa is so full of it… The race started way too late when they can go directly to inters, and it was certainly not undriveable towards the end… Many were still on inters!

    1. I heard the performance of the Pirelli wet tyres is really poor. It’s not that surprising teams go for intermediates, even if it’s dangerous.

      1. But surely you can’t argue that the race should be stopped before the wets are required.

  13. Such a baby Ham wanted to go straight away begging Charlie.

    1. Right. And maybe you could come back when you’ve learned how to write proper sentences and we can understand whatever point you’re trying to make.

      1. Shut the hell up

      2. David,David,David, were you never taught not to start a sentence with a preposition?

  14. ColdFly F1 (@)
    5th October 2014, 10:55

    Nice guy Massa, but should not be taken as the expert on track drivability!

    At the beginning he was radioing that it was too dangerous, whereas all other drivers begged Charlie to call in the SC. And they were proven right by Button and others moving the inters on that lap or soon after.

    1. Steve Nichols
      5th October 2014, 15:20

      Who, then, considering actual F1 experience, should we consult on track safety. You?

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        6th October 2014, 8:20

        I’m just stating the fact that other drivers were telling Charlie that the track was perfectly safe when Massa thought it was not.
        PS – read the article and my comment; I am talking about the SC at the beginning!
        PPS – why do you suggest/ask it should be me? I am not an expert on F1 drivability?

    2. @coldfly Fine, don’t ask Massa. Ask Sutil or Bianchi, god save him.

      A bit of reality is needed here, the track wasn’t safe. We know this. Obviously. Probably those drivers were also telling Charlie to let them race.

      Massa, more than anyone, is aware of the risks. So rather than undermining him, we should listen to him first. Because he understands what it’s like and understands the value of racing compared to safety.

      1. @mike i think you miss the point Massa did not even want the race to start he was moaning and people were pitting for Inters.

        1. Yeah? Well, All I think is, given that someone got seriously injured, maybe Massa has a point.

          1. No he doesn’t. Stop trying to use sentimentality to excuse your luck of logic.

      2. @mike, You are completly missing the point, the driver is not an involuntary passenger, they are the ones choosing how fast to drive, what tyre to use or for that matter whether to continue or retire. Unless you want the cars to be remotely controlled you cannot eliminate risk in F1 anymore than you can on the road.

        1. Guess I have to put the word “you” into the no no list along with “bias”

        2. I think, given that Bianchi was probably not going that fast, given the waved yellows, maybe things can go wrong, even while a driver is being careful.

          For example, Aquaplaning.

          1. Perfect. Let’s just not have drivers at all. Let’s have F1 only as digital video game then. It seems that is the only way people like you won’t find the track “dangerous”.

      3. ColdFly F1 (@)
        6th October 2014, 8:37

        @mike, thanks for your reply.
        In fact I was talking about the safety car at the beginning; all other drivers (but Massa) were saying it was safe to race.

        Regarding the end. Of course when something happened, it was not safe.
        But F1 will never be 100% safe. As long as they learn and improve safety whilst keeping it a racing sport.

        As for Mass saying it was not safe at the end. Why was he still on Inters? Why did he continue racing? Lauda stopped racing when he thought it was not safe! Lauda is, ‘more than anyone, aware of the risks’, and said it was still OK to race at the end.

        1. Hey Mike. I dont know exactly what Massa was saying at the beginning of the race but in my point of view even though the track was drivable, the wet tyres created a lot of spray and it looked unsafe to drive due to poor visibility.

  15. I’ve just finished reading Sid Watkins’ “Life on the limit”, in it he says numerous times that if there was not a medical helicopter available he would complain to Bernie and insist it be sorted.
    In this race there’s a typhoon on the way, the helicopter can’t fly. Surely a helicopter that can’t fly is equivalent to there being no helicopter. Why wasn’t this race, as Massa said, starter earlier or even yesterday?

    1. Why do people keep repeating this lie without reading all the other comments de-bunking it.

  16. Michael Brown (@)
    5th October 2014, 12:56

    All the wets are good for these past years is running behind the safety car.

  17. Matthew Coyne
    5th October 2014, 13:03

    Absolute rubbish, we have seen races continue in far worse conditions it’s not like people were flying off the road everywhere there was just 1 corner which 19 cars managed without issue and 2 people struggled with, one of which should have been going alot slower than he actually was (Double yellow flags = Drivers must slow down and be prepared to stop) and unfortunately has had a big accident because of it.

    It is fair to say that noone slows down as much as they should for double waved yellows and that is the FIA’s fault for not clamping down on it, hopefully this will result in what we see in other racing series where there is a forced pit lane limiter zone put in place in a double yellow area.

    Massa just moans about everything especially things like this because he knows he struggles in those conditions, then you have the real racers out there like Lewis itching to get going ASAP.

    It’s about time he hung up his helmet, he is turning into a whining old man.

  18. It’s so hard to see where Massa the whinger ends and Massa the track safety advocate begins. Surely he’s been the victim of F1s most terrifying accident in recent years

    1. And it was totally irrelevant in this case.

  19. Is Massa ever not complaining? That guy makes more excuses than anybody on the grid.

  20. In some ways I feel sympathy for Massa. A little more than five years ago and he found himself in the same situation as Bianchi, and we our all hoping that Jules pulls through as Felipe did.
    As this saga has unfolded, I find it fascinating to see how some drivers found the conditions dangerous and others not so much. Niki Lauda’s take on things may have come across as cold, but Lauda has seen and experienced the dark side of racing. After all he nearly died in 1976 following his fiery crash at the Nurburgring, he saw the likes of Ronnie Peterson and Gilles Villeneuve killed in accidents.
    My point being is that, with the exception of Massa, all the other drivers on the grid have never witnessed another driver lose his life. Thank God! I can remember Robert Kubica’s huge shunt in 2007 and instantly thinking that he had to be dead. That may sound horrible, but such was the force of his impact with the wall it looked an almost certain fatal accident. Robert was racing again in next to no time.
    We are used to seeing drivers survive huge shunts with barely a scratch thanks to the incredible advances to safety in F1 since Imola twenty years ago.
    This should be a wake up call to F1 that, no matter how sophisticated the cars become, racing is still racing. As Murray Walker once said, ‘racing has been, and always will be, dangerous’.
    I still believe that heavy equipment, or indeed any foreign vehicle, should not be allowed on an active race track even under yellow flag conditions. We saw a Caterham spin behind the safety car barely two laps into the race, such were the conditions. It is simply too dangerous to have such a think as a digger on the exit of a fast corner, under any situation, never mind when it is raining. I would rather have the race stopped, so that the situation can be resolved safely, than risk the lives of the drivers and the marshals.

    1. I absolutely agree.

  21. I would take his thoughts on the end of the race more seriously, had he not also moaned that the safety car came in too early at the start of the race and then moaned on the radio about visibility again. As far as I remember, F1 has wet races and poor visibility has always been a result of this. If he can’t drive in the wet then go drive in Indycar or something else.

    When cars start to Aquaplane, that is something *completely* different, but Massa saying he was screaming on the radio on lap 40? Well, had they brought the SC out then that would have been absolutely ridiculous from what I was watching.

    1. “had they brought the SC out then that would have been absolutely ridiculous from what I was watching.”

      And yet then Bianchi might not be in such a serious state…

      Maybe, the needs of us fans, is not as important as safety?

      1. No, that was 2 laps later when the SC should have been brought out after Sutil’s crash. Please, I understand safety is also of critical importance @mike

        1. True. Sorry, you are being completely fair.

  22. Can people PLEASE stop saying that there was no helicopter or that it couldn’t take off. Finnish tv reported seeing it take off “with their own eyes” and people put pics on twitter with it taking off.
    Jules was transported via ambulance due to the nature of his injuries. Basically they didn’t want to subject him to unnecessary changes of pressure associated with flying.
    Finally, even if the helicopter could not take off during the race, the session is allowed to continue as long as an ambulance can reach the local hospital in 20 mins or less. This was news to me but this information was published on Dr. Gary Hartstein’s blog.
    Get well soon Jules Bianchi! Still hoping to see you drive your Ferrari in 2016

  23. Bottas, in contrast, said the conditions were still ok. Yes the rain was getting worse, but LH drove the lap record on lap 39/40.

  24. It was fine to race.

  25. I worry about Phillipe. He seems to becoming somewhat erratic since his move to Williams, both verbally and on-track. Do you think it possible he is missing the restraining shackles of Ferrari?

  26. Now, I believe this.

  27. A lot of comments going against Massa. I can’t understand them.

    He gave his opinion and if it turns out he is telling the truth about his radio calls then he was absolutely in the right as a safety car at that time would have prevented this terrible accident in all probability.

    Now, having said that, this needs to be shown to be an aqua planing event for him to be absolutely in the right as if it wasn’t then this is a very different thing, but still was so easily foreseen. M Brundle has complained about these huge unmoving pieces of metal being within the track limits on multiple occasions after his own near miss on the same track I believe.

    Either way, this was surely avoidable and Massa is probably rightly angry and scared that this was not avoided. I know I would be and I respect that he is prepared to say it.

    Finally, I do agree that racing is inherently dangerous, particularly in inclement conditions and not all accidents are ever going to be avoidable, but this surely was.

    Let us all hope that Jules comes through like Massa and does not suffer long term, or worse, from this as I for one cannot get what happened to Maria de villota out of my head, as even if Jules gets back on his feet, what damage may have been done!!

    Get well Jules. X

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