Felipe Massa and Damon Hill Anticipate Unique Action from Ferrari, McLaren & DRS

Barry RosenbergContributor IIApril 6, 2011

Good Sportsmen Jenson Button and Felipe Massa
Good Sportsmen Jenson Button and Felipe MassaClive Mason/Getty Images

Felipe Massa drove beautifully in the Australian Grand Prix for 10 laps during which he held off the faster McLaren of 2009 world driving champion Jenson Button. The McLaren driver took an escape road to illegally take the place from the Ferrari which led to a drive-through penalty that ruined Jenson's race.

In view of the fact that the 'Drag Reduction System' in the form of a movable rear wing did not overly enhance any teams' passing ability during the race at Albert Park, Massa is concerned that officials might make two passing areas on the Malaysian track. The design of the Australian track is not conducive to effective advantage of the movable wing.

Sepang, on the other hand, offers two long straights that might show more passing advantage than did Albert Park. It is this characteristic that has Felipe concerned that there might actually be too much passing.

"We are waiting for the final decision from the FIA to see if we use DRS on the front straight, the back one or both," said Massa. "Personally, I am not sure that allowing DRS on both straights is the best option, because I think it might actually make overtaking too easy. You have to get the right balance between helping the chances of overtaking and having almost too much passing.”

This observer finds it difficult to understand how there can be "too much" of such a good thing that has been so desperately sought for several seasons. It's interesting to me that no mention was made about the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) which Massa appeared to utilize with remarkable efficacy against the wing-waving actions of Jenson Button's McLaren and he fought long and hard to get past the slower Ferrari of Felipe Massa.

Personally, I differ with Massa and I hope the officials proceed with plans to maximize the wing valid areas on the Sepang track.

Damon Hill feels that the clear victory that Vettel enjoyed in his Red Bull at the 2011 season opener in Melbourne, Australia is not necessarily the template for the entire season.

"I thought Ferrari would make more progress, and I was surprised to see the McLarens up there after how they had performed in testing," said Hill.

"The McLarens are not that far behind. I think this season is going to be close enough, and I think we'll see some catching up."

"The reason is it's difficult to maintain a peak if you've a car to perfection when you arrive in the championship."

"Everybody else will just follow and catch up, so I'm sure the gap will close, and it will be more like last season with a handful of guys in the frame well beyond the halfway stage."

"I don't see that being any different this year. I don't think it is going to be a walkover for Sebastian."

"The first race is usually just a marker. People will catch up and it definitely won't be plain sailing for Red Bull all the way through the season."

"It's not quite like the days when McLaren didn't do any testing, turned up and blew everybody away by two seconds," added Hill.

"But they are certainly back in the frame when everybody thought they weren't in it at all.

"There are certain teams that have such depth of experience and talent in the design department that they will always be in the frame, and they are one of them."