Felipe Massa fears Formula One’s new teams could pose a danger to their rivals on the grid this season.Massa makes his return to the sport in Bahrain this weekend eight months after nearly losing his life in an accident in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The 28-year-old was struck by a spring weighing a kilogram that had worked loose from fellow Brazilian Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn GP.
Massa, who required life-saving surgery and a metal plate inserted to repair a fractured skull, is adamant he is 100% ready to return to the fray.
However, like Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber, who has labelled the new teams as “embarrassing” and “Mickey Mouse”, Massa has voiced his concerns regarding the newcomers ahead of the season opener at the Sakhir circuit.
Virgin Racing has been plagued with issues in pre-season testing, and although Lotus Racing has proven reliable, like the Yorkshire-based team, the Norfolk marque is woefully off the pace.
As for Hispania Racing, formerly Campos Meta prior to an internal takeover, the Spanish team have yet to turn a wheel in anger, and arguably pose the greatest risk to the other drivers.
“I hope they won’t be a danger,” remarked Massa.
“There are six to seven teams one second apart, while those teams are four seconds behind.
“It’s not good for the sport and not good for them. It’s like two different series.
“They’ll suffer, and we’ll suffer too, when we have them in front of us during qualifying”.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner admits he can understand Webber’s comments, and can appreciate Massa’s point of view.
“The FIA have been keen to bring in new teams following the demise of Honda, BMW and Toyota, so it’s good to see new independents coming into Formula One,” Horner told Press Association Sport.
“It’s great to see the Lotus name back in Formula One, and those guys appear to be doing the job properly.
“The Virgin team have had some issues in testing, but they’ve been physically running.
“As for Hispania, it would have been implausible a couple of years ago to think a team could turn up at the first grand prix without having turned a wheel, which is going to be a massive challenge for all involved.”
Asked if the likes of Hispania were a danger, Horner replied: “It’s not ideal.
“Our focus generally is not on that part of the grid. It will be on the Ferraris and McLarens.
“Hopefully it’s not going to cause too many issues on what will be a very busy track.
“The worst thing for Formula One would be if one of those teams disappeared halfway through the year.
“Hopefully they’ve all sufficient finance to be able to complete the season, and grow from there.”