Massa's Blog

“Safety is the most important factor”

June 29, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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The positive and negative aspects of last weekend in Valencia are all based on the same incident, which was the Webber – Kovalainen crash. I am very glad that Mark was practically unhurt in what was a huge crash, which shows once again just how important is the constant push to improve safety in motor sport. Thanks to the efforts of the FIA, the cars are now extremely strongly built, as was seen again on this occasion, with the Red Bull chassis standing up to a significant impact. The tracks are also ever safer: where Mark had his accident there was a large run-off area and he had a lot of space to fly and land without hitting anything – apart from an advertising hoarding – before ending up in the barrier. Of course, you always need an element of luck in these situations, but above all, work on this front must never let up.

Unfortunately, this incident affected, in a negative fashion, our race. By the time the track was completely under the Yellow Flags, we were already at the last corner of the lap and by the time I saw the “SC” board, I was out of the final corner and going onto the main straight. At the same time, looking in my mirrors, I saw most of the field going into the pits as they had seen the board before the last corner. It was a matter of moments and we were very unlucky in that we had to spend a very long time behind the Safety Car, whereas Vettel was already ahead of the Safety Car before it came on track and Hamilton chose to pass it, thus breaking the rules. I don’t particularly want to go over what happened after that, because it changes nothing in that our race was ruined. However, what happened needs to be looked into because it is not normal than someone commits a serious infraction like overtaking the safety car, when there is a dangerous situation on track and is not really penalised in practical terms. We must talk about this together and do something to ensure a situation like this does not happen again. The team has told me that, next week there will be a meeting of the Sporting Working Group: that’s good and it’s an obvious indication that the FIA is paying close attention to the matter.

After a lap behind the Safety Car, Fernando and I pitted together for a double pit stop, which cost me a bit more time. I dropped to eighteenth place and spent the whole race in traffic, all the way to the chequered flag. Looking at the actual performance of the car over the weekend, I have to say the updates to the aero package and revised exhaust system resulted in the F10 making a good step forward, allowing us to fight for the front places. Now it is important to keep pushing on the development front all the way to the end of the season. Last night, I enjoyed watching the Brazil win over Chile in the World Cup. The team played very well, but I think we shouldn’t really talk about them being favourites to win the competition. From this point onwards it is hard to talk about favourites and every match is important, every game is like a final.

 

Anything can happen

June 17, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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I got back home from Canada on Monday, which meant I was in plenty of time to watch Brazil’s first game in the World Cup against North Korea. To be honest, I expected something better, as their style of play was not that exciting and not very “Brazil.” Anyway, the important thing is that we won, which is what counts at the end. Probably the fact it was the first game meant the teams are very aware they need to make a good start and so do not play as well as they are able. We are up against two good teams next, Ivory Coast and Portugal so it will be important to do well in this first qualifying stage.

If I expected something better from the football, you could use the same words to describe how I felt about the Canadian Grand Prix. It was a bad weekend, especially when you consider I had a very good car for the race and was expecting to pick up a significant number of points. But then I was caught up in the accident at the first corner, sandwiched between Button and Liuzzi, which removed any chance of a clean race and a strong finish. I had a good start and was making up places on the way to the first corner, but then I had to pit for a new nose and that was it. Even after that setback, I was heading for the points in the closing stages: I was tenth, but Michael (Schumacher) who was ahead of me was much slower, maybe three seconds and Buemi in front of him was also slow, so I was in with a chance of finishing eighth. But then came the problem with Michael. He closed the door on me too much. He braked on the right and moved across to the left where I was. There was nothing I could do, as I was already on the limit of my braking and when he moved across even more, he broke my front wing.

On the positive side, the car was much more competitive in Canada than in Turkey, which is a good basis on which to go to Valencia for the next race. The street circuit there is not so different in terms of its characteristics to the Montreal track and on top of that, we expect to have some more updates for the F10 to make it even more competitive with those ahead of us in the championship. Valencia has not produced very exciting races so far, but I enjoy the track, as the only time I have raced there, in 2008 – it was one of the races I missed last year after my accident – I won. It would be nice to think we could be in with a chance of doing the same again this time.

Before going to Valencia, today I am in Maranello to prepare for the next race on the simulator. I enjoy this preparation, as it is very similar to doing a normal day of testing at a real circuit, as you drive from early in the morning until the end of the afternoon. We see how the car works, starting with a set-up mainly based on the previous year’s race and then we can change just about everything, as you would do in real life at the track. We even use it to test new components that have never been fitted on the car before and I am linked by radio to my race engineer, just as I would be in reality. Then I will return home to spend the weekend in Monaco, probably watching more of the World Cup, after which it will be time to head for Valencia and the chance to make up for the disappointment of Canada. With the unpredictable nature of this year’s championship anything can happen and I am sure we can be in the fight for the top places come Sunday in Spain.

 

Ferrari, my “other” family

June 9, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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As you have possibly heard already, I will be racing for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro until the end of the 2012 season. I am delighted that we have reached this agreement, as I really feel as though everyone in Maranello is part of my other family, with our relationship going much further than just a working partnership. From a purely professional point of view it is great to know what I am doing so early on in the current season, which means I can now concentrate a hundred percent on the rest of this year’s races.

I have arrived in Montreal, ready for this weekend’s Grand Prix and I have to say it’s nice to be back after Formula 1’s year away, because this is one of the nicest race’s of the year, with the whole city making all of us feel very welcome. After the race in Istanbul, I went back home to spend a few days in Sao Paolo and I have taken a few days to get here, as I had to attend some events for Ferrari team partners along the way. Thanks to Shell, I made my first ever visit to an off-shore oil rig, just over a hundred kilometres away from the Brazilian coast line. It was a very interesting experience and it was incredible to see how complicated is the extraction process and management of the crude oil on the platform. When I was at the control desk, it reminded me of looking at the telemetry from our cars when we are on track: every parameter can be studied in real time 24 hours a day. Here too, teamwork is the key and each individual has to work in harmony with everyone else to get the job done as well as possible. They are together almost all the time for at least two weeks at a time and it’s vital that every member of the group feels responsible for what they do and is ready to help those around them. It’s the very same in a Formula 1 team. Instead of flying north to Canada after this unusual day, I had another stop over to make, this time in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, for a promotional appearance with our partner Philip Morris and from there, I finally took another long flight to Montreal.

Even though I like the circuit here, with the challenge of running in low downforce configuration on a narrow track that is an unusual mix of a race track and street circuit, I have not had much luck in Canada. In fact, my best result dates back to my final year with Sauber in 2005, when I finished fourth. The last two races here were particularly tough for me: in 2007, I was penalised for leaving pit lane when the red light was on and the last time we were here, in 2008, there was a problem with the refuelling at my pit stop, which cost me at least a podium finish, but my car was really working well and I managed to move up from the back of the pack to finish fifth at the flag. This year, I hope we have a better time and that should be possible, because I expect our F10 to be more competitive than in Turkey. A good race should be on the cards, as the track has some similarities to Melbourne and Sakhir, where we were front runners. But as usual, we won’t really know where we stand until the end of Friday’s two practice sessions.

 

Try to fight back immediately

June 3, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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I am back home in Brazil, having taken the long flight from Istanbul on the Sunday night after the Turkish Grand Prix. I have to say, it’s good to be back in Sao Paolo as it’s been a few months since I was last here. I have some promotional work to do in South America and also, at least it’s the right side of the Atlantic for the next race in Canada.

Looking back at the Turkish Grand Prix, I think the only honest way to describe it is as the poorest performance from Scuderia Ferrari so far this season. We were uncompetitive through the whole weekend from Friday through to Sunday, struggling in every session, especially qualifying. So, when it came to the race, I think we did the best we could do, given our pace and our position on the grid. It was a shame, given that the Istanbul track is one of my favourites, where I have won three times in the past at the wheel of a great car. This time, it was not so positive, but no way are we going to give up and we must just keep on working and try to fight back immediately.

We can do it, because we did a fantastic job over the last winter and came out with a great car at the start of the year, which was a massive improvement compared to the car with which we ended the 2009 season. At that point, we had found the right direction to take in working on the car. However, from a certain moment of the season up until now, our development has not seen the car improve as much as we had hoped for or expected. In the same time period, we saw our competitors improve their cars significantly. This is the situation facing us now, so we must start by understanding why the good direction we had up until that moment has not continued. I am sure we can do it, because Ferrari has the capacity in terms of the people working for the team and also because it has come from behind in the past to again be competitive with the very best cars on the grid.

As far as the championships are concerned, the situation is not yet in a critical position for us: given that there are still twelve races to go, it is one hundred percent open, which means we can still fight for both championships. However, at the moment, it’s true that Red Bull has a better performance level, as it has done all season, while McLaren which was behind us a few races ago is now ahead of us in terms of their car performance. We simply have to push hard to try and get ahead again. If the ability to achieve this goal is based on our desire to do so, then I am confident we can improve.

 

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