Formula 1 Midseason Report: Felipe Massa

 

By 

t) on August 22, 2012

Before the start of the season, I highlighted six drivers who had a lot to prove going into 2012. The article can be found here.

The mid-season break is as good a time as any to revisit those men to see how they're progressing. First, let's take a look at Felipe Massa.

Felipe Massa's Ferrari F10 in the Senna Corner (Montreal) Image by Gregory Moine via Flickr

Background

Massa entered 2012 on very thin ice. He could—and probably should—have been dropped at the end of last year following an extremely disappointing 2011.

The Ferrari was the third-best car, occasionally the second-best, but Felipe's best finishing position in any race was fifth.

The year before hadn't been much better. While teammate Fernando Alonso battled for (and probably should have won) the title, Massa was a distant sixth place overall.

Since returning from the injuries he sustained at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, Massa had started 38 races, won none (though he gifted the 2010 German Grand Prix to Alonso) and scored just five podiums.

His performances were far from good enough.


2012

The Ferrari was a very poor car at the start of the season. While Alonso managed to drag it around the track at a reasonable speed, Massa simply couldn't handle it.

This was somewhat expected; only the very best drivers can take a bad car and make it respectable.

But in a field with mere tenths separating the front-runners and the midfield, the size of the gap was just too big. After just two races, the knives were out, and lists of potential replacements were already being compiled.

After five, it seemed almost certain that he'd lose the seat at the end of the year—and possibly sooner.

Then Massa enjoyed a mini-revival at the sixth race, Monaco. He pretty much matched Alonso lap-for-lap most of the weekend, and finished close behind his teammate. That's exactly where Ferrari want him.

His pace was decent in Canada too, but an error early in the race put him into a spin and he fell from fifth to 11th, losing any chance of a podium finish. He'd demonstrated good pace at two very different circuits.

He wasn't especially poor at Valencia, either. The results say he finished a lap down while Alonso won, but on this occasion, Felipe was blameless. It was a combination oftrack debris, Kamui Kobayashi and a badly-timed (for him) safety car which left Massa a distant 16th.

And in the British Grand Prix, Massa qualified well in the rain and came home in fourth place, his best result of the season. In fact, it was his best result since 2010.

But one decent finish didn't prove a great deal. Felipe needed two good races before the summer break (a point at which a team may, if they haven't already, make a decision about their driver lineup for the next year).

In Germany, a first-lap accident dropped Massa to the rear of the field and he could only fight back to finish 12th. And in Hungary, a poor start from seventh left the Brazilian ninth after the first lap.

A race distance later, that was where he finished.


Has he proved a point?

The improvements in pace Massa has shown as the season has progressed won't harm his cause. In terms of pure pace, he appears to be largely within the window Ferrari want him operating in—within a few tenths of Alonso, with occasional blips.

Trouble is, he just isn't getting it done in the races. The pace he has means nothing if he can't convert it to good finishes.

It's true that he's had some poor luck here and there—Valencia, for example—but in Formula 1, a driver makes a lot of his own luck. If someone runs into trouble, it's usually because he put himself in trouble's way.

It doesn't matter that Felipe can point to a timesheet and say he was only 0.143-seconds slower than his teammate over the course of a lap.

What matters is the fact that, since he became able to drive the car at a half-decent pace (Monaco onwards), Massa has scored 23 points.

Alonso has scored 103.

I don't think he's done enough—and if he's still in F1 next year, it'll be a huge surprise.

 

Follow me on Twitter if you wish, @JamesNeilsen

 

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De Villota recovery described as ‘remarkable’

 

via AFP – 22 hours ago — Marussia test driver Maria De Villota is making a remarkable recovery from last week's horrific crash which resulted in her losing her right eye, her F1 team reported on Wednesday.

Jerome d'Ambrosio Image by nic_r via Flickr

The 32-year-old Spaniard required two operations at Addendrooke's Hospital in Cambridge after the accident at Duxford Airfield that saw her run into the tailgate of a stationary service vehicle.

Although her condition was life threatening over the first few days, on Monday De Villota showed enough of an improvement to be moved out of the Neurological Critical Care Unit.

A team statement read: “Despite severe injuries, Maria's recovery during that time has been remarkable.

“Following two successful surgical procedures in the days following the accident, last Saturday the medical team at Addenbrooke's Hospital began to gradually reduce the level of Maria's sedation.

“By Sunday morning, Maria was awake and able to speak to her family, which provided a very important – albeit early – indication that there were positive signs for Maria's recovery.

“Since that time, Maria has been making small but significant steps. She was moved out of the Neurological Critical Care Unit on Monday and is no longer receiving sedation.

“Her family remain by her side and she is communicating freely with them and the medical team. Medical assessments are ongoing to monitor Maria's improving condition.”

 

 

F1 — Webber and Alonso emerging as favourites

 

By Alan Baldwin — via Reuters — LONDON, July 9 – After a wet and muddy British Grand Prix weekend at Silverstone, Formula One could see some sort of a pattern emerging in a season that has so far stood out for unpredictability.

Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso and Webber Image by nic_r via Flickr

Ferrari and Red Bull like the look of it but for McLaren, and their world champions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, it is not a pretty sight.

The long-suffering but loyal 125,000-strong crowd on Sunday saw Ferrari's Fernando Alonso start on pole position and Red Bull's Australian Mark Webber take the chequered flag and winner's champagne.

At the previous race in Valencia it had been a Red Bull on pole, this time with double world champion Sebastian Vettel at the wheel, while Alonso went on to triumph in front of his home Spanish fans.

Alonso and Webber are now the only two drivers to have won twice in the nine races so far this year and Silverstone's rain-soaked track handed both their teams their biggest points haul of the season from a single race.

The Spaniard has 129 points to Webber's 116 with Vettel the only other driver with a three figure tally on 100.

With three races in quick succession this month – Germany and Hungary are on back-to-back weekends – there is the danger that by the time the teams head into the August break the championship has gone from being wide open to a two-team tussle at the front.

McLaren tumbled from second to fourth overall with Hamilton now 37 points adrift of Alonso and behind both Red Bull drivers.

“A pattern is sort of starting to emerge but that could be thrown out of the window quite easily at the next race,” said ever-cautious Red Bull principal Christian Horner.

“I think it's far too early to write off anybody in this championship.”

FERRARI RECOVERY

That said, Red Bull and Ferrari have been consistent.

Alonso has now finished his last 21 races in the points while Webber has suffered only one retirement in the past 12 months and finished in the top four in seven of nine this season.

“I'm very proud of the Ferrari recovery in the last few weeks and now we have been fighting for the victory in the last three or four grands prix,” said Alonso after Sunday's race. “So we're heading in the right direction.”

Ferrari, celebrating a first pole since 2010 and fourth-placed Brazilian Felipe Massa's best result since that year, appear to be hitting their stride after a sluggish start to the season.

Red Bull, who had both their drivers on the podium together for the first time this year, have also figured out how to make their car go faster.

“Obviously we got some confidence with our car in Valencia. I think that before then, we'd been finding our way with the new regulations, but I think we understood a little bit more about the RB8 in Valencia, and that has been an on-going process here,” declared Webber.

McLaren, winners of the season-opener in Australia with Button, are finding the Pirelli tyres hard to fathom.

Hamilton won in Germany last year and Button in Hungary and team principal Martin Whitmarsh was hopeful that upgrades would help the team get back into contention.

“Sometimes you learn more from these weekends than the successful ones,” he told reporters.

“I'm not seriously worried. worry doesn't make your car go quicker,” added Whitmarsh. “There's no magic, you've got to work on developing the car and understanding the conditions.

“It is very tricky to go from being so strong in the first stint on one set of prime (tyres)…and about 15 minutes later you put them on again and they feel different. they respond differently yet you set the same pressures and temperatures.” (Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by John Mehaffey)

 

 

F1 Live – at the British Grand Prix

 

Start Your Engines, F1 Style, at the British Grand Prix

 

 

F1 Live — British GP Update – July 7, 2012

 

Silverstone encourages fans to attend the British Grand Prix on Sunday 08 July.

On the Turn Image by andrewrennie via Flickr

Silverstone would like to thank fans that heeded the circuit’s advice on Friday evening and did not come to the Formula 1™ Santander British Grand Prix on Saturday.

While it was an extremely difficult decision, and one that will have disappointed people that had to stay away, the decision gave the circuit a fighting chance to repair and get previously unsafe car parks into a state that can be used on race day.

The circuit has implemented further contingency plans throughout Friday night and Saturday. As a result, it is now in a stronger position to accommodate all ticket holders coming to Silverstone on Sunday.

The circuit has issued the following important information for fans coming to Silverstone tomorrow:

Information for Sunday (08 July)

  • – Everyone with a valid ticket for Sunday is encouraged to come to Silverstone
  • – Please leave plenty of time to arrive at the circuit and, where possible, travel in 4×4 vehicles, on motorcycles or car share
  • – Where possible, please maximise car capacity for your journey
  • – In order to park vehicles safely, fans should be prepared for a longer walk than usual. Please wear sensible shoes and clothing
  • – The severe weather conditions over the last weeks and, in particularly, the last 48 hours, has had a significant impact on the public car parks. It will, therefore be more difficult to park on than in previous years
  • – Please follow Stewards’ instructions. They will do everything possible to ensure you are parked as quickly and efficiently as possible
  • – Everyone who has a valid ticket for Sunday entry arriving by foot (campers & people staying in the locality) with pre booked tickets should arrives as normal
  • – People with pre-booked Park and Ride passes and tickets should follow directions as sent out and follow instructions from stewards. Please be patient – we are doing our very best and are working hard to get you in
  • – Campers must leave cars at the campsites and not bring them to the circuit as they will be turned away
  • – Campers should avoid trying to leave the site on Sunday night and stay until Monday morning. This will avoid getting caught up in traffic unnecessarily
  • Hospitality guests should follow instructions as normal, and again be patient with stewards
  • – To help stagger traffic exiting the site, please stay behind and enjoy the off-track entertainment, including the post-race Grand Prix Party

For up-to-date information tune into 87.7FM, keep an eye on the website, or on our Twitter and facebook pages.

Richard Phillips, Managing Director of Silverstone Circuits Limited, said: “The weather has been a constant issue over the weekend. Tomorrow will be a bit of a challenge, but please bear with us; we are going to do our best.”

The event will not be able to take place without the drivers, teams and officials. Please ensure they are given priority when accessing the circuit in the morning.