Massa: P14 to P13

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Hungaroring, 2007 | Ferrari MediaFelipe Massa qualified 14th and ended the race 13th – in the second fastest car in the field.

How on earth did that happen? It looks like he had a fair slice of misfortune, but also missed crucial opportunities to help himself.

After being fastest in final practice Felipe Massa hit trouble in the second session of qualifying, when he was knocked out. He failed to set a fast enough lap for the top ten on his first effort after making a mistake at the final corner.

That meant he would need to do a second flying lap – which was unusual, as we have been used to seeing the McLarens and Ferraris only need one flying lap to progress through the second stage of qualifying this year.

Unfortunately for Massa the team sent him out with too little fuel and had to wheel him back to the garage. But on his second run he struggled with low tyre temperatures (possibly caused by the delay) and failed to improve his time.

That at least gave him the option of running whatever strategy he chose and the team decided to give him a heavy load of fuel. That could have paid dividends in the event of an early safety car period, and it meant he wasn’t under too much pressure to overtake lots of cars on the track.

However in order to make the best use of the strategy he at least needed to be up among the fastest runners who were running a similar long first stint. But at the start he slipped even further back – partly due to starting on the dirty side of the grid, but he also ran wide at turn four allowing Takuma Sato past.

Stuck behind Sato he lost ground to the leaders at a tremendous rate:

Lap 5 – 24.7s behind
Lap 7 – 32.2s
Lap 10 – 42.5s
Lap 13 – 52.3s

Sato finally made his pit stop on lap 33 but Massa wasn’t able to go much further – he made his first stop four laps later. Rather than burden him with another heavy fuel load Ferrari elected to put him on a two stop strategy with the softer compound tyres that should have given him extra speed.

Unfortunately for Massa (or perhaps owing to Ferrari failing to keep an eye on the relevant gaps) he emerged from the pits just in front of leaders Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa. He began to edge away from them but the stewards elected to show him the blue flags forcing him to slow and let the leaders past on lap 40.

This was a critical blow – and a deeply ironic one, as Hamilton’s race at the N??rburgring two weeks ago was spoiled in a similar way when he was lapped by Massa.

Massa was back into the pits on lap 51 – one lap after Hamilton – which relegated him to 13th. In the later laps he was in a three-way battle for 12th with Giancarlo Fisichella in front of him and Alexander Wurz behind.

Massa was no more able to pass Fisichella than Raikkonen was to pass Hamilton – but Massa’s quarry was not driving a McLaren.

Although Massa was unlucky, it seems again that his Achilles’ Heel is race craft. Fernando Alonso started from sixth and passed both Mark Webber and Robert Kubica on the track. Massa wasn’t able to pass Sato in a Super Aguri, who was only fuelled four laps lighter than he was.

Massa was served a double helping of misfortune – but he could have done more to get himself out of trouble. He’s now 21 points behind Hamilton in the championship – a major challenge with six races left to go.

Photo: Ferrari Media

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13 comments on Massa: P14 to P13

  1. “I tried to pass Wurz but I ran wide and Sato also got past me.

    “At that point, any hopes I had just evaporated. I had a very heavy car and lost downforce every time I tried to close on other cars.”

    Felipe: Everyone’s cars lose downforce when they get close to other cars. It’s not just yours!

  2. but he does not remember that … he does not close on other cars that often

  3. Magnus said on 5th August 2007, 19:09

    Isn’t it possible that Ferrari were very much aware of the gap to Hamilton and Raikonnen when Massa first pitted. It was pretty clear by then that Massa really didn’t have the speed today (the Swedish commentators speculated his car had been fuelled too heavy for the tires to cope with). So maybe they decided to scrap Massa’s race, bring him in so he came out in front of Hamilton and perhaps, with some luck, he could discreetly hinder Hamilton enough for Raikonnen to profit.

  4. Tommy B said on 5th August 2007, 20:11

    Get Hungaroring off the calender NOW!!! its so dull, get a new race or fit it with sprinklers to make it wet

  5. Carldec said on 5th August 2007, 21:59

    its becoming more and more apparent that Flippy is a chauffeur. He can pilot the fastest car from pole to a win, but has a hell of a time actually racing. Todays drive was just horrible. He didnt even seem to try to get out from behind Sato.

  6. SoLiD said on 6th August 2007, 0:13

    not smart from Ferrari to put him so heavy, they should have trusted their cars speed and give him low fuel to make up places quickly.

    Only luck could have helped with that fuel…
    Also Massa should b’ ashamed by his lack of progress.

  7. Tommy, it’s not the Hungarorings fault, it’s the current F1 rules. Check out the vid of Mansell & Senna (on this very site), and remember Hill in the Arrows? Thrilling stuff.

  8. Daniel said on 6th August 2007, 22:40

    I think you’re forgetting Albert Park and Silverstone, especially the latter, both races where Massa started from the back of the grid and finished in points (6th and 5th), with mature and aggressive drives.
    He indeed could have been better in Hungaroring, but that doesn’t diminish his consistence in race distances, just as Raikkonen’s horrible pit entry mistake at Nurburgring doesn’t diminish his wet driving talents.

  9. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 6th August 2007, 23:03

    I think Daniel makes a very fair point. But it seemed at the Hungaroring Massa couldn’t even pass the kinds of drivers he picked off at Melbourne and Silverstone.

  10. Journeyer said on 6th August 2007, 23:16

    I would put it down to the fact that in Australia and Britain, he had an OK or good strategy. We cannot say the say for his Hungarian strategy. And remember, Massa ended up in this mess in the first place because of an error by the pitcrew yesterday in Q2.

    Add to that the difficulty of passing here in Hungary, and you get this…

  11. SoLiD said on 6th August 2007, 23:46

    sure excuses are there to use, but I’m pretty sure that Kimi, Fernano and Lewis would have don’t much much better… and this is why Filipe won’t be a Champion

  12. Journeyer said on 7th August 2007, 0:15

    On that, we can agree. But we have to remember, even Alonso managed to stay stuck behind Ralf Schumacher for 2/3rds of the race.

    But if he wants to be champion, he’s gonna need a much more dominant Ferrari. And that won’t happen, at least this year.

  13. Number 38 said on 7th August 2007, 0:56

    I’m no fan of Massa or Ferrari but the boy does well when he’s in front and few give him credit for that! I will……Kudos Felippe !

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