Ferrari’s leading driver Felipe Massa has clarified his comments regarding rookie pilot Jaime Alguersuari and further pointed out the issues surrounding the in-season testing ban currently in place. While Alguersuari did a good job in his practice sessions yesterday and this morning, many drivers on the grid had concerns prior to Friday as Scuderia Toro Rosso’s latest signing had only driven a Formula One car in a couple of straight line tests. Massa believes the FIA need to take action.
A few drivers voiced concern over Alguersuari, suggesting it may be dangerous for such a young and inexperienced driver to take to the track with nineteen others, and Massa felt that he may do his sporting career damage if it doesn’t work out well.
Earlier in the weekend, Massa had the following to say:
For me he’s too young. When I came into Formula One I was just 20 and for me it was also quite young. I was too inexperienced to ask what I needed from the car so I made some mistakes.
For me it’s wrong. It’s not good for him. For me he can burn himself very quickly. Maybe he’s an incredible talent and he will do much better than everybody thinks, but for me it’s not good for him. Felipe Massa.
Today, Felipe pointed out that his comments were not directed at Jaime, but instead towards the situation that has resulted in a driver being promoted to a race team without actually having driven a Formula One car around a circuit.
I was not talking about him, because any driver in his position would have done the same including myself. He did a very good job [in free practice]. Felipe Massa.
Massa explained that the testing ban, which has affected the way the cars are developed, has also affected the drivers. Many test drivers are upset because they are essentially doing nothing during a racing season now, and of course, the promotion of inexperienced drivers is made more difficult. Scuderia Toro Rosso are taking a gamble by replacing Sebastien Bourdais with a complete rookie, and Massa may be correct in that the Spaniard’s career may falter because of the early start without testing.
I feel that for me it is not fair to bring a guy to the first race like that. For me, the FIA should have a different solution for this kind of thing. It would have been better for him to have had a test last week.
In this case, the FIA should allow it, and I think from the team point of view it was a bit of a risk to bring a guy who has never driven an F1 car straight away to a race weekend.
Of course, the flipside of the argument is that there is no better time to plant a tree. As in, the sooner Jaime gets to grips with the driving the car in a racing situation, the better for himself and all others. I do think Felipe has a point though, and while some drivers have the ability to learn very quickly and drive safely and competitively, a test is beneficial for everybody.