Massa's Blog

“Budapest, a very special weekend for me”

July 27, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Going back to Budapest will be a very special weekend for me, for reasons which you can all appreciate as it was there, just over a year ago, that I was seriously injured when a spring from another car hit me on the head during Q2 on Saturday afternoon. My first meeting when I arrive at the Hungaroring circuit will be with all the marshals and medical staff who did such a very good job of carefully getting me out of the cockpit. I want to thank these people, with whom I now feel a special bond. I had to stay in hospital for a week after the accident and I got to know the staff, who all treated me so well and one unusual result of the whole unfortunate episode is that I know I now have a lot more fans in Hungary.

Quite often this year, at press conferences at the track, journalists ask me if I feel I am back to normal and if I am driving as well as before and my answer is always the same: yes, in terms of my work, absolutely nothing has changed. But as a person, the accident did change me: it made me value life much more than before and I appreciate the ordinary things in life ten times more and it has put life and my health in perspective, not taking anything for granted and not just for me, but also for life in general and what it means to everyone. I know what it means now and I feel I am much more mature as a human being. However, on the professional front, nothing has changed, because once you shut the visor and go out on the race track, you just do everything as before, without thinking of the accident.

In Germany, we produced a great team result and if people were asking why Ferrari kept saying for several weeks before that the F10 had improved a lot, they got the answer in Hockenheim. But that does not mean we are sitting on our hands, because there will be even more updates coming this weekend and the result last weekend is motivation for everyone in the team to keep pushing even harder to keep the momentum going, improving race by race. There are other reasons to be optimistic about this weekend, including the fact that Bridgestone is bringing its Super-Soft and Medium tyres that have always suited the F10 very well, so maybe we can have another very competitive race. Throughout the year, we have seen that various teams’ performance has been very much related to the track characteristics, with the exception of Red Bull, who have been competitive everywhere. So let’s wait and see how we go at the Hungaroring. Personally, I have never had a good result at this circuit, but that has simply been down to circumstances, as I do enjoying driving here a lot and, in 2008 for example, the last time I actually raced here, I led for sixty laps until my engine failed. So all in all, there are many reasons why I am really looking forward to going back to Budapest in a couple of days time.

 

“Hoping for a normal race”

July 21, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Tomorrow I fly to Germany for the start of what will be a very busy period, with two Grands Prix on consecutive Sundays. It might seem an unusual thing for a race driver to wish for, but my greatest hope is that I can have a normal race. If I think back to everything that happened to me in the last three races, sometimes I still find it hard to believe that I had so much bad luck: in Montreal and Silverstone I was involved in collisions on the opening lap and in Valencia, the Safety Car came at just the wrong time for me and ruined my race. In all three of those races, our Friday and Saturday performance had proved we had a competitive car, but I never managed to translate that potential into points on the Sunday. So, my main aim is to have a trouble-free weekend from start to finish: of course I wouldn’t be a racing driver if I did not have thoughts of winning the race, even if we know that, at the moment, Ferrari is up against some very strong opposition, but really, if there are no unusual incidents on Sunday and we can race to our full potential, then I will be satisfied, because if we manage to do that, then I am sure a good result is waiting for us.

It’s true you cannot do much about luck, good or bad, but in terms of being as well prepared as possible for this weekend, everyone at the factory has been working very hard since the last race and I have been to Maranello twice to have meetings with our engineers, to fully understand the new developments and then last Monday, I spent the day driving the Hockenheim track on our simulator, as well as taking part in more meetings. I have always enjoyed driving at this circuit and this year we will have the novelty of using slick tyres here for the first time, as last year’s race was held at the Nurburgring. The last time we came here, in 2008, I finished third and in 2006, I was second behind Michael (Schumacher) and in fact, I have always finished in the points here since I have been driving for Ferrari. In a way, I regret that I never got the chance to drive on the famous old Hockenheim layout, with its long straights through the forests, so this new version is the only one I know. I think the track characteristics should suit our car quite well and I hope we will be competitive there. We are pressing forward with the car development, even if it seemed much improved in the last few races and here we will have a new diffuser, which we will evaluate during Friday’s free practice. I am sure other teams will also be moving forward on the technical front, but we must just concentrate on our own job and not concern ourselves with that.

I have not done much else since the last race, because with two trips to Maranello and my usual physical training work, there has been plenty to keep me busy. To drive from my home in Monaco to the factory can take around four hours, sometimes more if there is traffic and although it can occasionally be a pleasant drive, especially in a Ferrari, I sometimes prefer to fly, in order to save time. Here in Monaco, it is very hot at the moment, which means it is perfect for endurance training outdoors and also for spending time relaxing with the family. There won’t be much time for that now until after the Hungarian Grand Prix, as we prepare to tackle two races that will be very important in terms of the final outcome of the championship.

 

“Let’s hope we make another good step forward”

July 7, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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We can begin by talking about the World Cup, although sadly in the case of my Brazil team, it is more of an ending than a beginning, since they were knocked out by Holland. It has been a tournament full of surprises, with many teams who were expected to do well, falling out early. In the case of Brazil, we were winning everything, but once we came up against Holland, the team felt under a lot of pressure and after scoring the first goal, the team then lost direction when the others equalised. That’s the World Cup; either you put in a complete performance for every game or you lose. It’s a bit like Formula 1 in that respect. I will still follow the rest of the matches, but not with the same level of interest.

In any case, my main focus for the next few days is all on Silverstone. I watched the MotoGP race there on television a few weeks ago and my impression is that the new track layout is very different to the old one with some of the new ‘slow’ corners even slower than before. We will have to learn the handful of new corners on Friday, to judge if we need to make significant changes to the type of set-up we have run here in other years, although much of the data we have from the past will still be relevant as several sections are much the same as before. It means that when I walk the track on Thursday with my engineers, as we do at every race, it will be a bit more important than usual. When you approach a new section of track on foot, you are looking for a variety of things: what the asphalt surface is like, whether there are any bumps on the racing line, where you think the correct braking points will be and the best way to approach the corner. You have to assess whether the braking point and entry to the corner is a priority, or if it is more a case of looking for good traction out of the corner, if there is a straight immediately after the turn for example. So there are many points that can be important to keep in mind once you are actually driving the car and you can find that the assumptions you made when on foot need to be modified once you are in the car and so you might decide to change your racing line. It only takes a few laps to find your way round, although with every lap you improve, especially on a new section of track, but I would say that after five to ten laps, you should be completely on top of the situation.

I hope we make another good step forward this weekend, with the new updates we are bringing to England, because we saw in Valencia and even in Canada, that the F10 is progressing in terms of competitiveness, even if for various reasons, that did not translate into good race results. In fact, this weekend should provide a very clear test of how much we have improved, both in pure performance and in terms of where we stand against the teams currently ahead of us. Of the tracks we have raced at so far this year, Silverstone is most similar to Istanbul, where we had an uncompetitive weekend, so if the F10 works well here, we will know we are on the right road.

Even if we have a good British GP weekend, we cannot afford to relax for a moment, because we know we are a bit behind in the championship and we are at the halfway point of the season. In addition, from Silverstone to Budapest, we now have to tackle three Grands Prix in four weeks, with further developments coming immediately for Hockenheim and the Hungaroring, which means these three races will be very important and we will be pushing very hard to try and get ahead of our competitors. The next month will be a tough schedule for everyone in Formula 1 and from a physical point of view I have also been working hard with my usual training programme in the run up to this weekend and then I will do the same in the run up to the German race, but after that there will be no time for much physical preparation before Hungary. Back to back races are a regular feature on the calendar and in fact, it is easy to deal with physically, because actually driving a Formula 1 car is just about the best training you can do! But before then we have Silverstone, which is a circuit I have always liked, even if we will have to see what it feels like now with the changes. There is always a good atmosphere here as the crowd is really passionate about motor sport in general and about Formula 1 in particular. It is fantastic for us drivers to go to countries like this where the people love your sport, know it and understand everything about it.

 

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