We're heading for the Hungarian GP and we've got the possibility to make up for the disappointment at Hockenheim, where our performance wasn't up to our expectations. We suffered a lot during that weekend, but now, after the four days of testing at Jerez - where I was on the track on the last day - I think we understand the problems we had in Germany, although I don't want to get into detail. Let's say that I'm quite confident that we'll have a very different performance of the F2008 in the next races. Obviously the German GP was really disappointing, but at least we managed to gain some points, which is very important for the Championship, while things at the top remain open. It would be better to be ahead than four points behind, but I'm sure that the next races will go well for us. At Jerez we also worked on some improvements of the car. That means that we worked on finding out what had gone wrong in Germany, but took also a step ahead. We worked a lot on the set up, also for races like the one in Singapore, where there will be lower temperatures, because it's a night race. We left Jerez with lots of data, which will help us on the short and on the long term. Just like the track at Monte Carlo, also the Hungaroring needs a maximum of aerodynamical downforce, while we're using the Bridgestone soft and supersoft tyres: with this configuration things went well at the Monaco GP, where we were very competitive. This is another reason to be confident. Although I prefer fast tracks, I like the one in Budapest: I've never reached the podium, but I was always really strong. Over the last days I relaxed at home in Monaco. Before that I spent a day testing at Jerez and another one at the simulator at the FIAT R&D centre, where we worked with the race at Valencia in sight, which will be held at the end of August. To get to know a new track, especially the corners, is always an interesting experience and I have to say that the track seems to be very demanding. There are many important breaks and changes of direction in the slow corners, but also very fast straights. I think it will be an interesting race and it was useful to drive a couple of laps on the simulator: it can be useful at least to get an idea of what we expect on Friday morning on the first day of Free Practice. I don't use the simulator very often, although I work in its development with the technicians. Usually I'm working at the CRF with Marc Gené and Andrea Bertolini, who are a big help for the Team. But before Valencia there's Budapest: with all the experience from Jerez I can't wait to race again.
The F1 press seem to have just one subject on their mind, as we start the second half of the season: who will be champion? But, in his Thursday meeting with the media, Felipe Massa did not have the answer to that question. “I think it is very difficult to say what will be the main factor in deciding the outcome of the championship,” reckoned the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver. “When you see there are four guys all within two points at the top of the table it is such a small difference, you cannot say that one thing will make the difference. Each one of us is in the same boat and many things can happen from one race to the next. Consistency will be the most important factor between now and the end of the season. Because if one of your rivals has a bad race with no points, then if you are consistent, this can make the difference in your favour for the championship. I have a good chance like the others in this tight competition. My strengths are that I have a great car and I am working with a great team and I plan to make the most of those assets to get stronger all the time and fight for a good amount of points at every race.”
The close competition is not just restricted to Sunday afternoon between the four main title contenders, as Saturday afternoon has proved to be a key to success the next day. “I am happy with my qualifying performance, because it is so close that just the slightest mistake can mean the difference between pole position and fourth place on the grid,” maintained Felipe. “It is important to be quick in qualifying as that can help you a lot in the race, but the others are quick too, so if a driver like Kimi or Lewis finds the right lap, it can give them pole, and the same applies to me. My aim over Saturday and Sunday is to put together a really strong qualifying lap and then translate it into a consistent performance in the race.”
Judging by the flags and banners outside the Hockenheimring and in the surrounding campsites, the crowd has not forgotten its favourite son, Michael Schumacher and the seven times world champion will be here this weekend, which seemed to please Massa. “It’s always nice to be here with Michael,” admitted Felipe. “I enjoy his company and he is an important component within the team so hopefully we can put on a good performance and secure a great result at his home race.”
I haven't yet forgotten Silverstone, although it was a weekend to be put in the files as soon as possible: but weekends like that are part of racing. The goal is very simple now: concentrating on the future, which means the second half of the season. As I've said before, there's still a long way to go: everything can happen and the Championship is wide open. It' true that we lost precious points, which were in our reach, but we're still in a good position: I'm leading in the standings together with Kimi and Hamilton and the Team has a good advantage in the Constructors' Championship. So you can't say that things are going too badly, quite the opposite! After Silverstone the Team at Maranello worked a lot on many different aspects, such as improving the procedures at the track. I won't give you any details, because this is confidential information. But we know that we have to act to assure that certain mistakes won't happen again: this has to be one of our goals as of now until Brazil. I'm not worried about the critique after the British GP. I've had lots before and it has never affected me, because I know what I have to and what I want to do. The opinion of people from outside the Team don't count for much, especially when they say one day you're a phenomenon and the next they say you're a failure: I don't let it influence me in either case. After the race I took some days off, before I took over from Kimi on the last day of tests at Hockenheim. The weather conditions were perfect, for once with summerly temperatures and I think things went well. We drove many laps with the F2008, which was set up very well with both types of tyres on the short and on the long run. We know that we have a good car, very competitive, but we haven't used its full potential at the last race, mainly because it was a race under very special conditions. The test results are very incouraging for the upcoming weekend. We haven't been racing at Hockenheim since 2006: back then I came in second behind Michael. I like this track, although I've never raced on the old one with its long straights. I had some pretty good races there and in 2006 I was really fast: I hope that I'll be in the same position and maybe even make a step forward in the final result. There are some parts, which remind of Magny-Cours and there's always a great atmosphere, especially at the Motodrom, where you can feel the fans really close from inside the car. Now that there's only one race in Germany, it is a very important event for Formula 1 in general and, even if Michael won't be here for the first time, I'm sure that there will be lots of fans and we'll have fun. I'm sure Michael will be at the Ferrari box, although not for driving... I felt fine over the last days with my family at home in Monaco, but now I can't wait to race again and start the second hard and exciting half of the Championship the best way possible.
Having spent a few days at home after Silverstone testing, I am now preparing to head back to England for the British Grand Prix and the chance to face our closest rivals on their home circuit in front of their home crowd. Although I have to say, I have always noticed that Ferrari seems to be very popular with the crowds here.I like Silverstone which has been a good circuit for me, but I hope I don't have to have such a tough race as I did last year: I had a problem in qualifying, started from the back and had to work my way all through the field to finish fifth in the end. Last to fifth was not bad, but I would prefer to start from the front and stay there, rather than have to fight my way through the field. In fact, an F1 magazine has just done a survey that shows I did more overtaking than any other driver in F1 last year. In fact, I think I am right in saying that I was also the guy with the most overtaking moves in 2007. This year, I think that is also the case, especially if you look at how many cars I passed in Canada. That is part of my driving style, which is a bit aggressive. It's not so easy and to be honest I would prefer not to do any overtaking because I am in the lead, so this statistic can be seen as a negative as it means I need to overtake. We tested some new components and trying new things on set up and mechanical improvements. I was quite happy with it.Although I like the fast and flowing nature of this circuit, apart from the final section, last year's fifth place was a repeat of my finishing position in 2006 and they are my best results at this event, so there is plenty of potential to finally do something better this time. I am sure we will be competitive in the race. At last week's test, we tried some new components and assessed new things on set up and made some mechanical improvements. I was quite happy with the balance of the F2008, so it's looking good. But we must never underestimate our competitors because they are working very hard and it's all very close. I think in France, we never really saw the pace of the McLarens as they were always stuck in traffic, having started behind. So we cannot say we were so much stronger than them in Magny-Cours. Silverstone can throw up a few surprises and even if we don't have typical English rain, there can still be strong side winds even in warm dry weather and this means you have to be careful as the wind can catch you out and destabilise the car through some of the quick sections. But this is the same for everyone, so there is no reason to think I cannot have another good race weekend and finally make it onto the Silverstone podium on Sunday.