Ferrari personnel are well-known for making ludicrous statements about their opposition, particularly when they are talking about anything to do with a certain team that begins with ‘M’ and ends with ‘cLaren’. But I think Luca Baldisserri has come out with a corker today. I do think this comment could come back to bite him on the bum.
“I think that, with these new regulations [banning traction control], Lewis Hamilton may have a rough time,” Baldisserri was quoted as saying by Gazzetta dello Sport.
“For sure he won’t be able to carry on driving the way he has, and even though he raced and won in GP2 without traction control, he was on different tyres.”
Is he sure?
Lewis Hamilton blitzed the GP2 world when he raced without traction control. Luca Baldisserri has a point with the fact that they were different tyres. But Hamilton raced on those different tyres last year, so he has experience with both F1-spec tyres and cars without traction control. It’s probably not too much of a leap for him to work out how to drive a car that combines the two.
Perhaps if he is looking for someone who might struggle under the new regulations, Mr. Baldisserri could look a little closer to home. Felipe Massa is already hopeless in the wet, and he is bound to be hurt further by the lack of traction control given that he has been mollycoddled with cars that do all the work for him throughout his eight-year-long F1 career.
I’ve done a quick search on the series Massa has raced in prior to F1 — Euro F3000 and Formula Renault 2000. And although I have failed to find detailed technical regulations for Euro F3000 in 2001 or Formula Renault in 2000, my hunch is that they probably ran without traction control.
But 2001 is a mighty long time ago. It is certainly much longer ago than 2006, when Hamilton last raced without TC. And Massa did not compete in series that are specifically designed to be ‘feeder’ series for Formula 1, as GP2 is.
Massa has been a critic of the removal of traction control. It’s not difficult to see why. Okay, so he is citing the expertise of his mentor, Mickey Schumacher who says that the lack of traction control will make wet races more dangerous.
But for how many years in history have grand prix cars successfully raced in wet conditions without traction control? Even if we ignore the early years of grand prix motor racing and concentrate on the modern era, the years 1994–2001 were TC-free (unless you believe that every single car in every single race in that period illegally ran traction control without being caught). I don’t recall wet races being a particular problem then.
I think the real reason Massa is criticising the new regulations is because he reckons it will eradicate his already slim chance of ever winning the World Championship. The same goes for David Coulthard as well, by the way. He was always one to want the lazy route to winning (I still won’t forgive him for complaining about Enrique Bernoldi not letting him past in Monaco 2001).
I might be wrong. Maybe Massa will excel without traction control. But I just don’t see it somehow. Regular readers know that I am not a big fan of Hamilton, but I feel certain about this. Hamilton will cope much better without traction control than Massa will.