Massa: The thing I miss most is the competition

Felipe Massa retired from Formula 1 a year later than expected, his career in the top flight spanned fifteen years where for most of them he was at the sharp end of proceedings, thus it was no surprise when he announced his Formula-E programme – the need to feed his competitive spirit clearly lingered.

Speaking to CNN as he enjoys a rare break from racing, Massa was asked how life changed for him since hung up his helmet, he replied, “The thing I miss most is the competition.”

No surprise, with 269 grand prix starts, 41 podiums of which 11 were victories and of course that gut-wrenching title near miss in 2008, adrenalin withdrawal is probably a thing that racing drivers get when they quit after lengthy spells in the game

Earlier this year, the 37-year-old Brazilian fed the itch when he inked a deal to race for the Venturi team, thus the popular Brazilian will be on the grid when the Formula-E season kicks of on the streets of Riyadh in December.

Massa explained his decision, “I was always interested in maybe being in Formula E as I said many times when I was still racing in F1. So I did a test a year and a half ago for Jaguar, but then I carried on for another year [in F1]. When you’re talking about proper competition, I think Formula E has good competition.”

Massa’s former Ferrari teammate, Fernando Alonso will quit F1 at the end of this year and will pursue the World Endurance Championship with Toyota until the end of the WEC SuperSeason next year, while an Indycar programme is being tailormade for the Spaniard.

The Brazilian explained why he has chosen an alternative route, “I’m not really a big fan of a championship that maybe has one team racing – like maybe LMP1, which I think is maybe the best car after F1 to race. This is something that I was not really interested in. All the ideas around [FE], after I finished my career in F1 – it is interesting.”

The ultra-quiet, battery operated series is not everyone’s cup of tea. 1997 F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve had a brief flirtation with Formula-E in 2015 but only lasted the first few rounds before calling it quits.

Massa is the highest profile driver to arrive in Formula-E by choice and although his Venturi team have not set the scene alight, they are revamping the operation with Susie Wolff on board as team principal.

“When it is a new season, a new car, it’s a big change for everybody,” reasoned Massa. “So it is impossible to say who is going to win the championship next year. But if you see everything that the team is preparing, it’s quite interesting and I really hope that we can have a competitive car.”

“It’s true that Venturi have never won a race, but they were very close to winning [last] season and they’ve managed some very good results as well,” pointed out the veteran from Sao Paulo.

Venturi technical chief Franck Baldet described Massa as “a very open-minded colleague” who can bring a great deal of racing experience to the team while in turn, they bring him up to speed with regards to the electric series.

“He’s learning as much as possible how to manage the energy, because it’s different compared to F1. His background in F1 is also helping us, so we are in a situation where we are all learning from each other and we are making big progress,” revealed Baldet.

Manufacturers have jumped onto the Formula-E bandwagon with factory outfits from the likes of Audi, Nissan, Porsche and Mercedes set to provide a huge challenge for relative minnows which Venturi are at this stage.

But Massa believes the big teams are beatable because the playing field is less skewed, “The team that is winning this championship [Techeetah] is not a big team.”

“That’s the only difference in Formula-E from other championships – it’s more unpredictable. You never know when everything is new, things can happen in the right way or maybe less than what you expected. It’s true, but let’s see.”

“My goal is to be competitive, the best as I can give. My goal never changes in the whole of my career,” added Massa who, at this point in his motor racing journey, seems an ideal fit for Formula-E.

Big Question: Will Felipe add value to Formula-E?