Felipe Massa says return of refuelling to F1 would improve racing
Despite 2008 Singapore GP pit drama, Massa says mid-race fuel stops would increase the sport's spectacle as cars would be faster
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 04/06/15 4:36pm
Williams’ Felipe Massa has backed the proposed return of refuelling to F1 in 2017 as he believes it will lead to more exciting “sprint” racing.
Following weeks of discussion over how the sport’s appeal can be increased for the future, The F1 Strategy Group last week agreed to a raft of plans for the season after next aimed at making cars faster and races more dramatic. The proposal for the return of mid-race refuelling proved both the most headline-grabbing and unexpected announcement, especially as it was previously outlawed at the end of 2009 on cost and safety grounds.
Massa was at the centre of one of the most infamous moments of F1’s last refuelling era when he drove off with the fuel hose still attached to his Ferrari while leading the 2008 Singapore GP, an incident which arguably cost the Brazilian that year’s world title to Lewis Hamilton.
However, despite suggestions from some quarters that the refuelling proposal may not ultimately pass through the F1 Commission and World Motor Sport Council and officially be reinserted into the rulebook, Massa insists it would be a great move for the sport.
“I don’t think it’s a problem for safety. We had many years with refuelling in Formula 1 and we had a few problems, but not really very dangerous problems to be honest,” he told Sky Sports News HQ ahead of this weekend’s Monaco GP.
“I think it’s a good thing and [will] change completely the race. The problem now is that we will race with very heavy cars with the full tank and the lap times, if you compare qualifying and the race, it’s a big difference. It’s a lot slower compared to how it was with the refuelling. I’m sure the race will be more interesting and nicer for the driving – more sprint racing.
“So I like the refuelling and I am in favour.”
With the Strategy Group agreements remaining proposals at this stage, Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle has predicted that refuelling won’t end up returning for 2017.
“Can't see refuelling being reintroduced in F1,” Brundle tweeted.
“Means all new car with smaller tank and big equipment freight costs. Better ways to spend money.”
But even if fuel stops are ultimately shelved once again, the fact that F1’s leading six teams, commercial rights holder and the FIA have agreed to revamp the look and speed of cars from 2017 suggests the bulk of the proposals are likely to become reality.
Massa says the drivers are also increasingly pushing to have a say in the shaping of F1’s future and reveals he privately spoke to FIA president Jean Todt, his former boss at Ferrari, ahead of the season concerning the sport’s current slower laptimes.
“It’s important. The driver needs to be inside the decisions. I remember I was talking with Jean Todt in the winter and he asked me why the races are a lot slower than before. I said because we have the full tank. The car is already heavier and the race is a lot slower and lot more technical than before,” he explained.
“I told him what we had before, the race was a lot quicker and a lot more attractive in a way. So maybe it helped a little bit.
“But I think it’s important that drivers are together with technical and sporting meetings to decide the future of Formula 1 and to change things so it’s much more interesting for the racing and the fans. We need to understand what is nicer to see in the race and for the fans to really enjoy Formula 1 once more.
“We are pushing to have drivers in the meetings, which is important.”
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