In an exclusive interview with Felipe Massa at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, the Brazilian Venturi driver talked about the new car, the challenges for the upcoming season and his first impressions on pre-season testing.
Massa will enter into his sophomore season of Formula E off the back of an up-and-down rookie campaign that yielded one podium finish on the streets of Monaco.
With many testing laps under his belt this weekend at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, e-racing.net sat down with the Brazilian to discuss the upcoming season and what he learned from season five.
ERN: What would you highlight as the main lesson learned from your rookie season that will be of good use to season six?
FM: “I believe that a lot, in Formula E everything is a learning process. The tracks, the car, the way of driving the car, the way of understanding the car, the battery, everything is a new experience. A driver who competes in Formula E undoubtedly needs a little time to understand, to learn, to gain experience, to know everything about the car, the competition, and the tracks.
“All the tracks I raced in [last season] were new to me, now I have more experience and in different areas, both with the car, with the team, overall with the way of driving, but with the tracks as well, so no doubt it can be a lot easier, not easy because each season is a new challenge but it is certainly a bit more relaxed because I already know what to expect, the gained experience certainly helps.”
ERN: On Wednesday during testing, 21 of a total of 24 cars were separated by less than a second, indicating another highly competitive season, what are your thoughts about that?
FM: “Yes, indeed, that’s Formula E. Last year, the cars were very close to each other. This season, having 24 cars fighting within a one-second gap is incredible. If you take a look at all championships there are, you’ll see it is extremely hard to find a championship as competitive as Formula E is and with so many exceptional teams, manufacturers and high-level drivers.
“Formula E has nothing to envy with any other motorsport championship.”
ERN: Do you think that your presence in the championship may influence young Brazilian drivers to see Formula E as an ultimate goal in their careers and not only Formula 1?
FM: “Without a question, arriving into Formula 1 continues to be a driver’s dream, to perhaps one day make it to F1, but I believe that the chances to get to that goal are less with each season. Nowadays, there are 20 seats in Formula 1 and to get one of those seats we know it is extremely complicated, as a consequence, the opportunities to make it into another championship are more likely.
“In my opinion, Formula E is an ever-growing championship where both, young and experienced drivers are interested in taking part and compete in it, if not now, in the future. Drivers racing in Formula 1 are certainly considering racing in Formula E as I did, and now I’m part of this championship.
“It is an example to drivers, the younger ones who dream to be here today, as well as to experienced drivers, who perhaps when ending their careers in Formula 1 can come to Formula E, the electric series is without a doubt the path to most drivers today.”
ERN: How do you see the base categories in Brazil, and which driver would you bet on that is more likely to grow in this increasingly competitive world of motorsport?
FM: “As I see it, the bottom-up categories in Brazil are yet a bit complicated. We don’t have a base category for the riders to go-karting and then race in a Formula series so that they can get that experience before going to Europe or another country. We do have the kart, and I’m helping by taking the kart world championship to Brazil in 2020. This is a very important step for motorsport, for young people too, but there is yet a need for a bottom-up category for drivers to being able to grow, learn and get more experience to arrive in Europe better prepared.
“We have some drivers who are showing results like the Fittipaldi brothers, both Pietro and Enzo. We have, in my opinion, a driver who has a great talent, which is Caio Collet. He is in Formula Renault, next year I don’t know in which category he will race, but he is a driver who has been showing a lot of talent. Other young drivers are battling as well to get a chance in Formula 1, but if I’d have to point to one, it would be Caio Collet.”
ERN: What happened in the chicane on Wednesday?
FM: “I ended up hitting the wall, I wasn’t the only one, I guess like ten cars crashed there too (laughs), ending my day. I run five laps in the afternoon but then and we had a technical problem and that’s when the day came to an end. It wasn’t a very productive day for me, but our other car [Edoardo Mortara] was able to develop some important things, it got better, having a more productive day.
“I experienced a problem that can happen, but the team has been evolving and I that is the most important. Hopefully, we will continue to evolve on Friday to be as prepared as we can for the first race. Everything is new, the powertrain is from Mercedes-Benz, time does also goes by really fast, and we know that there’s work to be done so everything is perfect to the first race, it is not easy, but we will try to get as prepared as possible.”
ERN: During your rookie season you achieved a podium with a third-place at the team’s home race in Monaco. What are your expectations and goals for the upcoming season?
FM: “One always wants to improve, to get better results, perhaps to conquer more podiums, fight for victories. The expectations are always higher, you want to do better than last season. We have a bigger potential as a team, stronger technical equipment from a manufacturer which is used to compete at the highest level, there is a lot of work ahead but the odds for us to develop faster than last season are greater.”
ERN: What’s your opinion on the yet to be build race track in Deodoro, Rio de Janeiro?
FM: “I am 100% positive in building new circuits, what I´m not supportive about is to try to build a race track to take Formula 1 from Sao Paulo and bring it to Rio de Janeiro. Public money should not be used to build racetracks, the traditional way for this to happen would be with private investments.
“Brazil has already too many problems to worry about whether or not public money is going to be used to build a racing circuit, I hope that is not the case, that the financing comes from the private sector. Perhaps it would be better to have a Formula E race in Rio, on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, showing the beautiful city sightings instead of building a circuit in a place that won’t show either the beauty of the city and is far from ideal.”