Felipe Massa, Williams, Suzuka, 2017

Massa explains why he got between Hamilton and Verstappen

2017 Japanese Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Felipe Massa explained why he split race leaders Lewis Hamilton and Max Vertappen when they lapped him at the end of the Japanese Grand Prix.

The Williams driver let Hamilton past on the pit straight as the final lap began but waited until the exit of the Dunlop curve, turn seven, before allowing Verstappen by. The delay to Verstappen allowed Hamilton to draw clear.

Start, Suzuka, 2017
2017 Japanese GP in pictures
“The problem is that I let Lewis by on the straight and then you had so many Esses,” Massa explained after the race.

“I was behind Lewis, losing being very close to him so I was going to let Max past after corner seven, which is what I did. So at the end when I get to sector one it is very difficult to park the car, I was fighting with Fernando [Alonso] as well.”

“I understand that maybe it was the last lap a nice fight for you guys to see on the television but I did maybe five corners, one after the other and then I let him by.”

Massa was in a similar situation on the last lap at the Russian Grand Prix earlier this year. On that occasion he frustrated Sebastian Vettel by separating him from race leader Valtteri Bottas.

The Williams driver finished tenth today but was disappointed with his car’s performance in the race.

“One point is better than zero,” he said. “We finished head of Renault and Toro Rosso. But definitely I was struggling during the whole race.”

“We did not have the pace in the car. And I’m so disappointed for that. We need to understand why but degradation on the tyres was too high, just fighting with the tyres the whole race.”

2017 Japanese Grand Prix

Browse all Japanese Grand Prix articles

23 comments on “Massa explains why he got between Hamilton and Verstappen”

  1. 16th fastest lap,only faster from the Saubers…Felipe’s pace seemed to fall after Kimi passed him & never returned.I dont know if a part of the aspfhoturf might have affected the car.Degradation was pretty high in the Williams & a 2 stopper was the fastest option.Still a point,when STR & Renault didnt score any

    1. 16th fastest lap isn’t quite as telling as it looks. That lap time was heavily affected by the fact that he was the first driver to pit for Softs on lap 17, far earlier than his adversaries. The only driver who seems to have done more laps on the Softs, (<- never sure about that comma) is Hülkenberg.
      Massa was compelled to pit so early because his car chewed through his tyres at an alarming rate. I watched the live timing closely at that stage, and my impression was that Massa's goal on the fresh tyres wasn't a typical undercut, where one sets a few fast laps straight out of the pits. Instead, he began his stint with a rather steady pace, with the aim of keeping Hülkenberg in the pit stop window, as he was the best-placed driver Williams could realistically fight against. Pushing any harder than that would've increased the risk of needing a second pit stop, which would definitely not have been a faster strategy by any means. The car never had the pace needed to make a two-stopper work, and losing track position in Suzuka equals losing places at the finish.
      By the way, Massa's first lap out of the pits was a 1:35.959 (lap 19), just 0.016 seconds slower than his personal best lap on lap 50, when his tyres were 33 laps old. Basically, that confirms what he said: He had to manage his tyres during the entire race.
      But yes, Williams managed to score a point in that uphill struggle, while their closest competitors didn't. Toro Rosso are now significantly weakened, so Williams might be able to cling to 5th place.

      1. Good comment.I thought aswell that he wasnt fully pushing,as Magnussen caught him easily after the pitstop.This FW40 is total crap…No downforce & bad tyre management…

  2. I honestly think FIA should come up with a rule for lapping backmarkers. When the gap between the leader and the second placed car is less than 5 seconds, those backmarkers should just move aside regardless of their battle. If it is more than 5 secs, then they are free to wait the maximum of 3 corners before letting the leaders pass. We’ve seen so many battles or potential battles this season influenced by backmarkers.

    People will complain saying middle tier teams have their own battles, sponsorships, vital championship points etc, but for me, if you are going to be lapped, that means you’re not good enough and you should move aside if your presence has the potential to ruin the race for the front runners.

    1. I don’t agree with either statement. First I think drivers should decide where and how to let others past, it’s part of racing. I accept there are limits that the FIA handles, but it shouldn’t make their (backmarkers) race even more woeful than it already is. Most of them already lap 2-5 seconds a lap slower than the leading cars.

      Just as team orders helped Hamilton keep Verstappen behind him when they found themselves behind Bottas after their stop, which I don’t like either. I understand it for endurance races where there are multiple categories, but this is all F1. Should F1 join the pack, then yes, they’re not competing against each other. For example: Hamilton is competing against Ericsson as much as he is against Vettel. The mere fact that Hamilton has a huge amount more points than Ericsson, doesn’t mean he should be granted track position each and every time.

      1. Bottas on soft titres nearing the end of their stint was in a different race to Lewis who had already pitted anf had much fresher softs.

        Drivers being lapped are not racing the race leader. There is no point them holding up the race leaders, with the danger that back markers hold up race leaders for team mates or team affiliates.

        i don’t like it but there must be some way to ensure race leaders are not compromised, deliberately or not, by back markers.

      2. Like Ferrari didn’t leave kimi out to block both Bottas and Lewis in Austria

    2. Oh and regarding the 5 seconds: No, this means the backmarker that is already 2-5 seconds slower each regular lap now all of a sudden has a lap time of 7-10 seconds slower. For each and every car that is about to lap him. Apart from that: there’s a huge difference between tracks and the consequence of 5 seconds is hugely different on each track.

    3. 5 seconds is an ethernity. Why ruin midfield teams’ races? In Spain this year, everyone but the podium was lapped. You would randomly influence pointscoring positions by effectively penalizing drivers randomly.

      And what if there are multiple drivers behind each other with less the 5 seconds apart? Lapped cars could easily lose half a minute in 2 corners…

      1. @f1mre I guess as you pointed to that once the field is more level, occasional blue flags left would not require a rule change. Problem may lie outside of the blue flag rule in itself.

    4. Maybe the rule should be that the drivers being lapped have to move aside immediately and do everything they can to have minimal impact on the front runners, but may not be passed for position themselves right after being lapped. I.e. in this case Massa could move aside without worrying that Alonso would pass him along with the front runners.

      1. This is the most sensible comment made, but it seems like to simple of a solution for the FIA to consider.

        1. Agree but implementation will be hard, could caused a lot of argument there. Nevertheless, this is going in the right direction

    5. Or forget about blue flags and make all drivers fight for each overtake; even when lapping a car.
      More racing even against backmarkers. Lapping another driver is an achievement and they should fight for it.

      1. Well the problem then becomes that certain backmarkers will be supporting Sebastian Vettel and maybe ‘didn’t have full battery on the straight to fight him off’ whereas against Lewis Hamilton they made him work for it as much as they could.

    6. Some valuable feedbacks here. My point is that this is the way to go but its not a definite less than 5 secs, but this thing needs to be solved because it has ruined a lot of excitement for the fans. All we want to see are battles and not just cars following each other.

      I like the idea of drivers fighting backmarkers to lap them. In terms of drivers favouring who and who, I believe they know the risk and reward of doing so. Intentionally defending against a driver that you are not racing against will only cause you to lose time. And I believe only those in the top 8 are capable of causing the front runners a lot of time trying to lap them, except in Monaco I believe. So for those in top 8, they are probably more concerned about their points tally and reputation than favouring his driver friend.

      1. But the blue flags themselves have ruined some great battles too. Those battles may only involve midfield teams but that does not make the spectacle any less important, after all we do not watch F1 purely for the front runners otherwise you might as well eliminate any drivers that are lapped in order to remove them from the track…

        How many battles have we seen messed up due to drivers having to let the leaders past? Probably far more than battles affected by drivers not moving out of the way.

        I think the system we have right now is fine. Ideally you would want the leaders to have to battle to overtake back markers but this could lead to races decided by some teams (torro rosso/red bull etc) helping each other out.

        (note- my other identical comment was posted incorrectly at the bottom instead of as a reply for some reason… that is why there are two.)

  3. Well considering what happened to Stroll and Sainz you could make the argument that going off-line in sector 1 would be too dangerous

  4. Going offline in sector 1 in full racing speed is dangerous. But going off line and slowing down is not. But then yea, no driver would want to do that as that would probably cost a few seconds in sector 1 if he goes off line and slow down

  5. I like Krommenaas (is it a Dutch name?) idea, but I also see the issue of danger going of the racing line at racing speed. But maybe a rule of some sort, preventing overtaking due to frontrunners comming through the field could be useful.
    In this case however I don’t think we would’ve had the intense fight between Max and Lewis as we were poised on the edge of the sofa to see. Lewis’s vibration issue dimminished/disappeared and Max’s Left front tyre was already on the limit.

  6. Just get rid of blue flags.

    Let the back markers be a natural part of a race, as it was in the past, as it is with multi-class racing.

  7. What a load of bullwash. To all of you.
    Quit trying to legislate the racing.
    All rules should apply evenly for every car. That premise is what is supposed to make the racing equal and fair.
    If they don’t, then you have a serious problem with F1 management.
    Perhaps you could have the cars color-coded based on their qualifying times. Then the green car has to instantly give way to a blue car, blah, blah, blah. What this discussion has devolved into is how to turn F1 into NASCAR.

  8. But the blue flags themselves have ruined some great battles too. Those battles may only involve midfield teams but that does not make the spectacle any less important, after all we do not watch F1 purely for the front runners otherwise you might as well eliminate any drivers that are lapped in order to remove them from the track…

    How many battles have we seen messed up due to drivers having to let the leaders past? Probably far more than battles affected by drivers not moving out of the way.

    I think the system we have right now is fine. Ideally you would want the leaders to have to battle to overtake back markers but this could lead to races decided by some teams (torro rosso/red bull etc) helping each other out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.