Melbourne, 31 March - Down under: this is what the English call Australia. In truth, from Italy these are Antipodes here in Melbourne, the setting for the third race of the season that will be run on Sunday. This is the longest trip of the year in terms of distance travelled but many of us left Italy on 5 March! As you may appreciate, there is some homesickness among us, despite that fact that Melbourne is a very pleasant city. It is no surprise that those who chose to take time out between the Grand Prixs of Malaysia and Australia arrived in the capital of Victoria last week.
It would be great to climb onto a plane home having collected the first win of the season. It would be fine compensation for the efforts on the track and those at Maranello following events on a daily basis.
Today's two hours of free practice bode well for the weekend, though it is too early to make predictions on the Friday. Both Michael and Felipe declared that they were satisfied with the handling of the 248 F1 that did not have any reliability problems. The only question mark concerns the time needed to get the tyres up to temperature, considering that the conditions are decidedly autumnal. Today we worked in a slightly different to normal, concentrating
mainly on the best set up of the car. We have clear ideas for the tyres. We will see what the weather is like tomorrow before deciding if it is worth trying the other set of tyres Bridgestone has supplied.
There was a downpour in the late afternoon but tomorrow, according to the forecast provided by our partners, Meteo France, rain is not expected.
I think that we can go for a slot on the front row, even though the opposition is tough. McLaren, Honda, Renault, Williams, BMW and ourselves: there are at least twelve cars that are, potentially, pole position hopefuls.
At least two of these will be disappointed, surprises aside. To find out how things go, the session will take place at 14 Melbourne time (5 in Italy and Central Europe).
The life of a grand prix driver for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro really seems to be a varied one, covering everything from racing to rugby. After the excitement of the Malaysian Grand Prix, I headed off to Bali with my parents and my girlfriend. As I mentioned last time, I chose Bali simply because it’s a place I had never been to before. And yes, it really is a beautiful spot to visit. But, I’ll be honest with you and admit that maybe I’m not the best type of tourist as I did not bother too much with all the sights there are to see. Instead, I just enjoyed relaxing after the rush of two races in the space of one week.
I arrived here in Melbourne on Monday, while my family headed back home to Brazil. I have always liked this place as there is a real buzz about it and the people are very friendly and interested in the Grand Prix. One thing I have had to get used to as a Ferrari driver is that there is always a sponsor that needs some of your time, but usually it involves something new and different to do, so I am happy with that, as I am always up for something to do. Here in Melbourne, it involved playing Rugby Sevens, which means Rugby Union with seven players per side, instead of fifteen. Now I know that Italy are surprisingly competent at this sport, but it’s not something we Brazilians have ever shone at. I mean, for starters, the ball is the wrong shape! It’s very difficult to catch. But anyway, here in Melbourne near the circuit, I played in one team and Michael played in the other. I scored two “tries” whatever that means, but more importantly, I enjoyed myself and did not break any bones.
Tomorrow, Thursday gets more serious as I go to the track for the first engineering briefing meetings. The team did some testing back in Europe last week, which was constantly interrupted by rain, but as there is a wet forecast for much of this weekend, then maybe it will produce useful data. I am hoping for a good weekend here. For starter, although it might sound strange, there is something about the lifestyle here that reminds me of home in Brazil. Like us, the Australians like to live outdoors and have a good attitude to life. I have never done too well here in the races: a few years ago I got involved in a first corner accident. Then I had an engine problem and last year I finished ninth. So, this year, I really expect us to have a package that’s good enough to see us on the podium on Sunday afternoon.
Sto scoprendo che la vita di un pilota della Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro è davvero molto varia, dal rugby alle corse. Dopo l’eccitazione del Gran Premio della Malesia, sono partito per Bali con la mia famiglia e la mia fidanzata. Come ho gà detto, ho scelto Bali per la sua bellezza e perché non ci ero mai stato prima. Ma sarò onesto: non sono probabilmente la “migliore specie” di turista poiché ho pensato soprattutto a rilassarmi tra le due gare invece di godermi tutto il paesaggio che Bali poteva offrire.
Sono arrivato lunedì scorso a Melbourne, mentre la mia famiglia è tornata in Brasile. Adoro veramente la vita a Melbourne, le persone sono davvero calde e c’è vera passione per il Grand Prix.
On Thursday afternoon at the Sepang circuit, I faced the journalists for the first time since Bahrain. We were all squeezed into the small Ferrari team air conditioned hospitality area, because you really don’t want to be standing in the sun for more than a couple of minutes in the Malaysian humidity. The news had just come out that I would have to drop ten places on the grid because my car needed an engine change, before the practice started on Friday. One press man asked me if I liked racing when I had to fight my way to the front from a low grid position. I told him I did and that I had done it a few times in the past. I don’t know if he believed me, but I think I showed him I was telling the truth on Sunday afternoon.
My race in Malaysia was all about waiting for the right moment and attacking at the right moment. I think starting last and finishing fifth was a great result. I lost a couple of seconds behind slow cars which cost me time. Anyway, I’m really happy with my pace and if I had started nearer the front, I think I could have been fighting for a place on the podium.
In the closing stages, I had a problem because I lost 2 kilos of fuel at the moment that the crew removed the fuel line from the car, so I had to save a lot of fuel during that stint. Michael was closing on me and I had to be really careful on the throttle pedal to save fuel. It wasn’t so easy for me, but in the end I was able to keep him behind me. Obviously he knew about my fuel problem. It was a normal fight for position which I managed really well and that makes me happy.
What was encouraging was our pace, because if we had been lighter on fuel I think we were on the same pace as the Renaults more or less. I would have to say we were competitive. But our strategy was great. Of course I lost out a bit behind slower cars, but when I had a clear track ahead of me, I could push hard and run at a competitive pace. The team strategists did a good job and it all worked out very well.
At the moment, I am still in Kuala Lumpur, but on Wednesday, I am heading off to Bali. Why Bali? Because I have never been before and I am always keen to see new places. I’ve heard it’s very beautiful. It will be something of a Massa family affair as, apart from my girlfriend, my mother and father are also coming. Then on Sunday, I take an overnight flight to Melbourne and they all head home for Brazil.
Sepang, 18 March - Qualifying did not go as smoothly as we would have wanted today at the Grand Prix of Malaysia. This morning we prefered to change Michael's engine as it was acting up in the same way that Felipe's had. It was a tough call to make as it was clear that we could have challenged for the leading places. Michael will be forced to start from the seventh row after being hit with the customary penalty that sees drivers drop ten places for an engine change during qualifying. Felipe, having worked on the race set up this morning did not take part in the second session so thathe could chopsar his fuel level for the start of the race. As you may have guessed, it was not a good day for the Scuderia. The reliability problem concerning an engine part was damaging as it compromised our chances of victory. Now we have to try to make a good comeback and get into the points.The latest weather reports do not predict rain, a factor that, given our grid position, would help. Anyway, we have not given up hope. The race will be a tough one, and not just for us!
Sepang, 17 March - Dear Y&F friends, welcome to the official Scuderia press office blog. I am Luca Colajanni and I am responsible for relations between the media and the Gestione Sportiva. From today, I will also be communicating with you in order to draw you closer to the world of Ferrari.I am writing to you from Sepang where night has now fallen. It has been a long day in tropical heat. Unfortunately, Felipe’s engine had to be substituted; a real shame as, from what we could see today, the set up was on a par with that of the other top teams and we could have repeated Sakhir’s fantastic qualifying result. Instead, only Michael will be challenging for pole position while for Felipe it will be an uphill struggle all the way. Also, we have to take into consideration that overtaking is possible on this circuit and that the Bridgestones have proved to be consistent. So, though starting from the back of the grid, a good placing is still within reach, as Raikkonen demonstrated last Sunday.
The mechanics will work into the night making sure the two F248 F1s are in tip-top shape. Free practice is timed for 11 tomorrow and it is here that we will iron out any doubts over the choice of tyre. As you know, this season the two forty-five minute sessions – the first at 9 and the second at 10.15 - have been replaced by a single stint lasting an hour. I have to say that we are very pleased as the system gives us more time to rest. After nights like the one that awaits our guys tonight, rest will be needed! At 14 comes the qualifying session. Last Saturday in Bahrain was spectacular, even watching from the pit lane. There was never a let-up and the tension was permanently high. The joy of claiming the front row meant that all the stress was forgotten. I think that the new format is a real step forward if we compare it to the systems employed over the past few years. I hope that you also enjoyed it and that we can celebrate another great session tomorrow!
Hello again. Only a few days in between races so I have not done much since my last blog. I came here to Sepang, via Dubai and I've just concentrated on doing a bit of training at the same time of day as the race, to try and get used to the heat.
As you may have read elsewhere, I will start the race ten places lower down the grid than where I qualified, because my engine had to be changed after the race. Some people have asked me if that's an advantage as I will at least have a fresh engine for this really difficult race. But I've never met a racing driver yet who wouldn't want to be as high up the grid as possible, old engine or not. Anyway, with all the changes to engine rules for this year, I don't think I'll be the only guy with an engine change penalty by the time the race starts on Sunday. It's normal that not all the teams are 100 percent reliable at this stage. But in the past, in other formulas, I used to like racing through the field from near the back, so hopefully I can do that again.
But I also liked winning from the front and getting onto the front row in Bahrain, especially as the only car next to me was also a red one, was a great feeling. It's been a long time since I had such a good view of the traffic lights at the start of a race with nothing but an empty track in front of me. In fact, it was way back in 2001 when I was racing in the Euro F3000 series in Italy.
Despite the problems with the engine and then at the pit stop, when an air line union came apart and cost me a lot of time, I really enjoyed that race. I am sure I could have made it to the podium, but no point thinking about the past now. I was competitive straight from the start and my pace was great in the race. I was unlucky, but I hope we get the luck back with plenty of races still to come. Before the problems, the fight looked to be between me and Michael and I hope that fight continues here. It is a very healthy situation when you have both cars pushing at the front of the field.
This is the toughest race of the year, not that it's so hot, but the humidity really gets to you. To be honest, most times, I've not felt too bothered physically here, but 2004 was a tough one because I didn't have power steering. I don't recommend that. Driving the car was like trying to park a car in a very tight place! It was actually the hardest race of my life and I don't know how I finished.
During the race here, I start with about one and a half litres to drink on board the car with me, but before that I can drink maybe three litres just before getting in the car. In fact, right from now on Thursday, I make a conscious effort to get as much water down me as possible to make sure I'm as hydrated as possible. But it means that every fifteen minutes you need to go to the toilet! But funnily enough, once you're in the car you don't think about that anymore.
So, it all starts again tomorrow and I just hope the luck is with me this time. Talk again after the race.
Hi guys, Felipe Massa here. This is my 2006 F1 season blog and I will be updating it once before each Grand Prix and once after, so you can keep up with my first year at Ferrari. Nothing too technical as you can get all that stuff in other parts of the Ferrari site. So, I've just got here in Bahrain, but its hardly a novelty for me as I tested for seven straight days at the Sakhir track a while ago. I guess I can drive around it with my eyes closed.
I'm based in Monaco, so me and my girlfriend took a flight from Paris to get here. It all went smoothly and even my baggage arrived! I was officially off-duty today, but I still went to the track in the evening, as we were heading off for a special football match between a Ferrari Eleven and the Bahrain National Team. Do I like football? I'm Brazilian so what do you expect, I adore football. Of course, you could say there's a bit of risk playing a game a few days before a grand prix, but I won't be taking the game too seriously and usually in these events, everyone is warned not to tackle the F1 drivers too hard. I'm sure it will be fine and if I'm watching or playing, I just love this game.
Speaking of my country, I am continuing a tradition of Brazilians at the Scuderia. I went home over Christmas and New Year and there was definitely a lot more interest in me now that I am with a really top team and for the country it's good that there are two Brazilian driver in competitive teams. I don't feel any extra pressure as I prepare for this race. I am not as excited or nervous as I was when I was about to sign my contract with Ferrari. Basically, I am really impatient to get in the car and start racing. I really think we can be competitive, but until all the cars are out on track at the same time, you cannot be sure of how things will go. There will be a new sticker on my firesuit starting with this race, as the day before coming out here, I signed a personal sponsorship agreement with Piaggio Aero. I am very proud to be associated with this important company, in addition to my existing sponsors. So, this is just a short note to get the blog starting and you will have to excuse me now as the guys are calling me now to head off for the football pitch. Log on for more blog on Monday.