Massa was right! It was the tires holding him back!

Massa was right!Today’s “Snap Judgement of the Moment” is brought to you by the all-new Fiat 500, now on view at the LA Auto Show:

Felipe Massa was absolutely right that the 2010 tires that he struggled with were his problem. He’s not the favorite to win the 2011 title after being quickest during the first test on next year’s tires by Pirelli:

Massa, 29, was 0.330 seconds quicker than Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, the new world champion.
Massa’s fastest lap of one minute 40.170 seconds was 0.032secs quicker than his qualifying time, which was good enough for sixth on the grid last weekend.
Vettel’s best time was a 1:40.500 – 1.106secs slower than his pole position lap.
The German was 0.7secs quicker than McLaren test driver Gary Paffett, who is standing in for race drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button on both days of the test.
Kobayashi said: “The tyres from Pirelli are well made. We tested how to work with these new tyres and how we need to further develop our car for them, learning in which way they are different to what we were used to running.
“The tyres were quite consistent. Only in the morning I struggled with tyre wear, but after we made some set-up changes this wasn’t an issue any longer. It was a very interesting test for us.”
Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi was fourth, ahead of Renault’s Robert Kubica, whose running was curtailed by reliability problems.

OK, OK, so some of you — I like the call you “doubters” — are already flexing your fingers and preparing to comment that it’s too soon to judge, right? Well, I’m just following Nico Rosberg’s lead. Asked how the tires compared to this year’s Bridgestones, which weren’t too good on his and Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes, he said: “It’s worse.”

Today’s Second Snap Judgement of the Day is brought to you by the Mercedes SLS Freakout, a hybrid crossover concept now on display at the LA Auto Show.

Rosberg goes on, a bit more starkly than Kamui:

“The general impressions are that they are slower, for one. Quite significantly slower,” Rosberg said.
“After that, they were not easy to come to terms with on the set-up. In the big picture, they are pretty similar in the end to the Bridgestones, but if you are then looking for the fine tuning to extract the performance there is some way to go on adapting the set-up.
“At the moment, we have done the small things that you can do at the track but there are the bigger things that you need to take care of with the car development. That’s going to be one of the areas that are very important for success for next year.”
Rosberg also described the degradation rate as “quite heavy”, but added that despite his comments about tyre wear and pace, he felt the Pirellis could still be very good for the racing.
“If that’s what they want and it’s the same for everybody, then okay,” he said. “Tyres like that always give more exciting racing as well. So it’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

Vision of Canada, anyone? We’ll see how the rest of the testing goes.

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