I started fourth and finished fourth: that was the story of my San Marino Grand Prix. After what was a tough race, I can be happy with this result, especially when you look at the combined number of points me and Michael brought home. Seeing that Michael fought all through the race with Alonso in the Renault and I was fighting both McLarens, honestly it is something I can be happy about. Yes, I might have made it to the podium, but I lost some time behind an Aguri at just the critical time, which meant I was just unable to keep ahead of Montoya. On the second stint, I had some graining after the first couple of laps out of the pits. It lasted about five or six laps when it was really difficult to keep up a good pace. But then the tyres cleaned up and we were back on a goodish pace. So, after three unlucky races, I am happy with fourth and to see our team take its first win of the season.
I reckon that Sunday’s race shows we don’t need much to be exactly the same level in terms of performance as the others. We have to think carefully about how we tackle the next race, but I think we are definitely at the right level to fight with the other top guys at every race now. On Sunday night, I said that naturally, it would have been nicer to finish on the podium, as fourth is still the best I have done in my F1 career so far, with two other finishes in this position. But now, I think I can look to do better in the coming races.
After the race, I was asked what I thought was the secret behind Michael still being able to win races after so many years in the sport. For me, 37 does not seem very old. There have been drivers winning who were older than that. Michael is just motivated and that is the main thing in any sport. I am younger and I am very motivated and I would hope to reach Michael’s age and still have that same level of motivation.
Speaking of age, tomorrow, Tuesday, is my twenty fifth birthday. I am not planning to do anything special though. Since Imola, I have not gone home, but have stayed in Italy, in Milan, as I am testing at Fiorano for three days, starting on Wednesday. So, I will be spending my birthday in Maranello at Ferrari, which I think many guys my age would think is actually very special indeed. And I guess I would have to agree with them!
Hi there. I’m already in Italy, a few days ahead of the grand prix at Imola, having come up to Milan on Tuesday to see the Milan v Barcelona football game. Honestly, I like both teams, they are both very good and both have quite a lot of Brazilian players. I am a big fan of Ronaldinho, who set up Barcelona’s goal with a brilliant pass, but I also like Kaka very much so I was just pleased that it was an exciting game to watch.
I went back to Brazil immediately after the grand prix in Australia and spent a week there at home in Sao Paulo with my girlfriend doing nothing much at all. I got over the jet lag quite quickly, as it’s a shorter trip than coming back to Europe from Melbourne and I slept for most of the flight, got home around six in the evening and slept through the night again. I did some sport and worked in the gym.
Then last week I did three days of testing in Barcelona. I reckon things went pretty well. We got some useful stuff out of it, as regards the new aerodynamics on the car which is interesting. We also had some changes on the engine which take us in the right direction.
From there I returned to my other home in Monaco where I spent the Easter weekend. I had a quiet time again before making this short trip up to Milan.
So now we come to the reason I am here in Italy which is of course this weekend’s San Marino Grand Prix. For me, this will be an amazing experience as it will be my first race in Italy as a Ferrari driver. All in all, I am partly Italian anyway, with my family having Italian roots. And I have also spent a big part of my life living here when I was racing in other formula. For me Italy is definitely what I consider to be my second home, so while this might be an important race for everyone at Ferrari and all its fans, it is also a significant event for me. I hope I can do a good job and be happy about things come next Monday!
Its’ true that, on paper, I don’t have much of a record at Imola in Formula 1, but even so, last year, I had a very good qualifying, finishing sixth at the end of the first session – remember we had two qualifying sessions back then – but after that I needed an engine change. That meant I did the second qualifying with a very heavy fuel load but even so, I set the eighth fastest time. I really believe I could have ended up in the top four if it had not been for the penalty that dropped me ten places. But in other categories, I always did well here, so I hope that I have a competitive car right from Friday and can put on a good show.
Maranello, 4 April –The Melbourne race left a bitter taste in the mouth. There were no plus points, the two drivers finished up against the protective barrier but luckily both escaped unhurt. The gap to the top of the classification is a substantial one. The only point of note is that once Michael’s tyres reached the right temperature, he kept pace with the best. This signifies that there is the potential to be competitive. What we have to do is put together the pieces of the puzzle and be competitive for an entire weekend and not only a single phase of the race. We have to try to be quick in qualifying to avoid those inevitable risks at the start that disrupted Felipe’s race. He was not at fault in the incident that ended his weekend a few hundred metres from the start. We have to place Michael in a position where he is not handicapped at the start and can exploit the innate sense of rhythm that sets him apart from the rest.
Now we have two weeks of work ahead of us - there will be little time for rest – before our home race at Imola. From today we will be at Vallelunga for the first of three days of testing. On the track will be Luca Badoer in the 248 F1 and Marc Gené at the wheel of the limited power V10 F2004. Michael will appear on the track tomorrow and Thursday.
Next week we are off to Barcelona. On Tuesday 11 it will be the turn of the test drivers then, from Wednesday to Friday, Michael will partner Felipe. We have important development work to carry out on a new aerodynamic package, new rear suspension and engine modifications that should resolve the problems that have recently compromised the car’s reliability. We will also be working hard on the tyres to try to get the best out of them even when we have conditions similar to those experienced in Melbourne. As you can see, there is a lot to be done. At Imola we have to get back to winning ways.
Melbourne, 1 April - Things did not go as we expected or hoped. Qualifying was very disappointing; it is useless trying to hide it. It is true that the rather cold temperatures – here it is autumn – were not favourable. However, we did not think that we would be outside the top ten. In the second part of the session, Ferrari spun off the track on quite a fast lap while Michael missed qualifying by just four thousandths. A fraction, but in a sport that strives to make the tiniest improvements, a few thousandths make a big difference and we saw as much today.
The mood is not the best on this cold Melbourne evening. The mechanics worked hard until 18.30 – the time that the car has to be turned over to the FIA – to prepare a new car for Felipe as chassis 252 was damaged in the collision with the barrier and was impossible to repair. Luckily, the engine is intact and so was mounted, with the gearbox, onto chassis 250 – the first example of the 248 F1 produced. Tomorrow, when the car will be handed back to the team, the final refinements will be made.
The only advantage of our grid position is that we can wait until the very last moment before choosing the fuel load with which to start the race. If there is the variable weather we saw today, this could be an important aid. Incidentally, the forecast is for dry conditions. However things go, we have to try to give our all and do what we can to finish in the points. As in Malaysia, we find ourselves in a position of damage limitation and not one where we can attack for the maximum result. We have to do what is necessary!