Felipe Massa was left incredibly frustrated after the Belgian Grand Prix, which saw the Brazilian driver struggle way down in the midfield section of the order for the majority of the race after picking up debris following Hamilton and Rosberg’s collision on lap two. Despite frantic radio messages back to the team, the debris was not removed until his second pit-stop.
After starting the race from ninth on the grid, Massa managed to gain a place during the opening two laps of the race with many expecting both the Brazilian and team-mate Bottas to quickly rise through the order. Whilst the Finn did just that, team-mate Massa instantly began to fall back through the midfield whilst also producing incredibly uncompetitive lap times in the process.
The reason behind the Brazilian’s sudden lack of pace was due to debris from Hamilton and Rosberg’s incident becoming stuck in the floor of his Williams. This naturally made his car “impossible” to drive due to a significant lack of downforce. Whilst his team-mate produced times within the 01:55s and 01:54s, Massa was some two seconds slower and was complaining over the team radio about the handling of his car.
However, during his first pit-stop the team only changed the tyres, with the piece of debris from Hamilton’s car still stuck on the floor of his car. This resulted in the Brazilian driver struggling in 13th and 14th during his second stint, before pitting for his second stop on lap 21 where the team finally discovered the debris and removed it. From there Massa’s lap times improved dramatically, gaining roughly three seconds during his final two stints.
“What happened was that on lap two or three during the race I picked up a bit of the tyres from the track, from Lewis, and the tyre was stuck on my car, the floor,” explained Massa to the media after the race. “And then I did ten laps on the first stint, I couldn’t drive the car and I was complaining that something was wrong because the car was impossible to drive. I could feel that I was missing a lot of downforce on the car so I was like maybe two seconds slow every lap.
“I stopped for the first pit-stop and it was the right time to remove it, to check. They just changed the tyres so I carried on and they didn’t remove the piece so I did another 12 laps doing the same which was two seconds slower every lap, so it was half of the race that I lost maybe 30 seconds, even more, compared to what I was supposed to be doing. Then I did the second pit-stop and then they saw the tyre so they removed it and I carried on and I was three seconds quicker every lap.”
Massa continued to state his belief that the team need to review their procedure, amongst many other things such as the working of the team. The Brazilian is hopeful that the team can continue growing and improving, despite such a disappointing result in Belgium.
“We need to review and we need to improve the procedure, the working, many things because yesterday [Saturday] we didn’t do a perfect job as well on the procedures,” continued Massa. “The team is growing and I hope this won’t happen anymore.”
With the team’s Head of Performance Engineering, Rob Smedley, agreeing with Felipe Massa that improvements are required “right across the board”, there was a feeling of mixed emotions within the Williams camp after Bottas managed to secure yet another podium finish in third.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic