A hundred reasons for a first smile

Montmelò, 24 February – On its eighth day of testing the F2012 broke through the 100-lap barrier that had almost seemed like a dream. Despite a long pause round the lunch hour, necessary to carry out an important set-up change at the front of the car, Felipe Massa managed to complete 103 laps of the Circuit de Catalunya, equivalent to about 470km. The final timesheets matter little – the 1.23.563 earned fifth place on the day’s classification – but much more meaningful was the smile on Felipe’s face as he came into the motorhome where the journalists were gathered for the usual end-of-test press meeting.

“Yes, I am happy: not only because we finally did so much mileage without problems but above all because we managed to improve the car in a significant way,” said the Brazilian driver. “The situation has changed above all compared to the morning, especially from the point of view of consistency of the lap times. The important thing is that, after having evaluated so many solutions, both on the exhausts and at the front, we are now taking a direction in which we can work to get the best set-up. There’s still a lot to do, for example on the exits of corners, but I’m satisfied and from the next Barcelona test we will be able to really start true and meaningful testing.”

Felipe added: “Today we could certainly have done a better lap time but that wasn’t our target. We had so many things to test over the course of these few days and our priority was to identify what is worth working on for the early races. We managed that and now we can concentrate on those areas with a large margin for improvement, like set-up and how to use the tyres. In the afternoon we were able to do some long series of laps with pretty consistent times, which I didn’t manage in the morning. The warm-up, that had been a particular problem for me in recent years, is also much improved – so much that I can consistently put together a time on the first lap. The car doesn’t have anything new on it but it’s definitely improved since Jerez.”

The positive day has not however stopped Felipe from keeping his feet on the ground about the chances for the first race and the season as a whole. “We are ready to fight but it’s impossible to say how we really compare to the others,” replied the Brazilian when asked if he could send a message of hope to the Ferrari tifosi. “We will discover that only when we all run with low fuel and soft tyres at the same time on the track, which will be during qualifying for Melbourne. Today people can say whatever they want but until we are all in the same conditions words count little. It’s true that I’ve seen some strong teams: Red Bull above all but also others like Sauber, Force India and Williams if you look at this week’s times.”

Felipe was also asked if he was getting used to the idea that his future with Ferrari could be decided based on results: “No, absolutely not. I’m heading into the season aiming to do my best, inside and outside the car, as I look to be competitive and to be able to fight for the most important goals like wins and results. If you drive with your mind on anything else you won’t do your own work properly.”

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