Massa's Blog

At Singapore the gamble did not pay off

September 30, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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I stayed in Singapore until Tuesday night, mainly because I was making an appearance for a personal sponsor, Richard Mille. I was pleased to stay on, because I enjoy visiting Singapore as the people are very welcoming and also the city is developing very quickly so there is always something new to see. I then returned home to Monaco and later this week, I will spend some days there just relaxing, after which it will be time to head off for Suzuka and the next important round of the championship.

As the Singapore Grand Prix was one of the races I had to miss last year, recovering from my accident, I was really looking forward to this year’s race, as a chance to try and get the result that escaped me in 2008. Two years ago, I produced what I consider one of my best ever qualifying performances to take pole position with a very big gap to the second placed man. Then, in a chaotic race, there was that infamous mistake at the pit stop, when I ended up driving down pit lane with the fuel hose still attached to the car.

Unfortunately, there was to be no making up for that unlucky weekend this time. Pole in 2008 was replaced with last on the grid and effectively my weekend was pretty much over from Saturday afternoon, when a problem on the car left me stuck out on track without even having completed one flying lap. But I’m not the sort to give up and in the debrief with the engineers on Saturday, we decided to go for a similar strategy to the one used by my team-mate Fernando in Monaco this year when he could not qualify either: as Marina Bay is also a street circuit, we felt there was a good chance that a Safety Car could come into play and at least let me move up a few places through a strategy gamble. That gamble did not pay off on Sunday evening, because having come in immediately to switch to the hard tyres, the Safety Car did come out, but really it was too early by maybe just one or two laps. Without that, I might have got in front of Hulkenberg and had a different sort of race. But, as it turned out, I had a rather boring, but very tough race. I was stuck in a train of slow cars with no possibility of overtaking and the heat and humidity feel even worse when you are in someone’s slipstream all the time. On top of that, I had to do almost the whole race on the one set of tyres, so that in the later stages, I really had to concentrate just to keep the car on track. You only had to see how fast Kubica was going after he switched to fresh tyres, to understand how difficult it was on the old ones.

In the end, I made up a few more places thanks to a couple of Stewards decisions after the race and although personally, it does not mean much to me, given that obviously my own hopes in the Drivers’ championship have gone, it did mean I got a couple more important points for Ferrari in the Constructors’ classification.

 

Fantastic to stand on that unique podium

September 17, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Monza was definitely a good weekend and given the fact that, for one reason or another, in the past I never got a good finishing result in the Italian Grand Prix, it was fantastic to finally stand on that unique podium. It was incredible to look out and see the fans stretching for about one kilometre along the start-finish straight and amazing to hear the people shouting your name. All in all, a great feeling.

Finishing third having started from the same position is a positive result, but of course you always think after a race that maybe you could have achieved something more. First of all, there were the very exciting opening moments, where maybe I could have gained position in a very close fight and then I was lucky not to have any damage on the car in my battle with Hamilton. I feel that later on, I had a chance of getting ahead of Button if we had stayed out on track a bit longer before the pit stop, as I had quite a gap to the car behind me. But you can never know what might have happened and I am not complaining, because it was a great result all the same and particularly good for the team, in terms of points for our fight in the championship.

In Monza, we always stay in a lovely old style hotel and on Saturday I enjoyed having dinner there with Eric Clapton. We have been friends for a while now and we always keep in touch, having first met because he is a big Ferrari fan. And no, I never asked him for tips on how to play the guitar, because I think it would be painful for me, but even more painful for him to have to listen!

We always expected the car to work well at Monza, as I said before the race, when I pointed out that this year, performance is very track specific. As our car is good under braking and has excellent traction, we could be fairly confident going into the weekend. On top of this consideration, the car itself has improved anyway and that work continues for the remaining races. In fact, on Thursday I was in Maranello to spend some time with the engineers and work in the simulator: I have driven not only the Singapore track, but also I was looking forward to tackling the new Korean circuit on the simulator, as it is always interesting to try something new. We have to keep pushing hard for these last five races and spending time in the factory is an important part of that, now that there is no testing.

As for Singapore, it is yet another race that I missed last year, which is an additional reason to look forward to this year’s Grand Prix. In 2008, for reasons we all know, the race turned into a nightmare for me, having started so well. I had a really strong qualifying, setting pole, around six tenths of a second quicker than anyone else, so I was hoping for a nice victory. Let’s see what we can do this time.

 

Busy time in the run up to Monza

September 7, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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I have had a busy time in the run up to this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, which will be so important for Ferrari’s chances in the fight for the World Championship title. Last weekend I returned to Budapest and the Hungaroring, for a Ferrari event, which was very enjoyable. It is strange that, although I am Brazilian and I live in Monaco, Hungary will forever be an important part of my life ever since what happened there last year. More unusual, is the fact that I now seem to get a great welcome from the people whenever I go back, which I appreciate very much. Over the weekend, I drove some demonstration laps in last year’s F60 and also drove a Ferrari California road car and I was pleased to be able to give the doctor who looked after me in hospital there a ride in this fantastic car around the race track.

Last week, I also went to Maranello, where I met with my engineers to discuss technical matters relating to Monza and also did a session in our simulator, in preparation for this weekend. It is obvious that the fourteenth race of the year will be very important for the Scuderia, not just because of it being the home race, but also because of the current situation in the championship. In Spa, given everything that happened in the race there, finishing fourth having started sixth was a good result, but in terms of the points situation, we needed more. So, looking at the championship, there will be some pressure this weekend, although I have always felt that the spotlight that falls on Ferrari in Monza is a positive thing and I enjoy seeing all the red flags, hats and T shirts and hearing the noise of the tifosi cheering, whenever we leave the pits. From a personal point of view, Italy is definitely my second country after Brazil, as my grandfather emigrated from Italy and I even hold an Italian passport.

I have never done very well in the Italian Grand Prix and in fact my best finish is just a sixth place in a wet race in 2008. All the same, I like the track even if I have not had much luck there, like in 2007 when I was in the top three but did not finish the race. I have won in Monza, because I spent much of my early career racing there, with two victories in Formula Renault and one in Formula 3000. The track is now unique on the calendar in requiring very low downforce, so the car is very different to the rest of the year, running with very small wings, which means it needs to have good mechanical grip and work well on the kerbs. I think our car should be competitive here, or at least I hope so, because usually the F10 has gone well this season on tracks that feature hard braking at the end of straights, into slow corners, such as Bahrain and Hockenheim and even in Canada. I am looking forward to the weekend, because it is nice to end the European part of the season at such a great circuit.

 

Spa – more difficult than we expected

September 1, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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After the summer break, it was nice to be back “at work” racing at the fantastic Spa circuit and the weekend started in a nice way when nearly all the drivers attended a small party to celebrate my friend Rubens Barrichello’s three hundredth Grand Prix. To be honest, I don’t think I will ever match this statistic, as I reckon I will stop racing before that landmark figure. But I am pleased for him, as it is a very nice statistic, and it is a great achievement in a successful career.

Looking back a couple of days to the Belgian Grand Prix, I started sixth and finished fourth, so at a certain level, I could say that I had a good race. However, in terms of the result and in terms of the championship and the points total for Ferrari, it was not enough. Given the difficult conditions, with the weather changing several times during the race, this was a positive performance in difficult conditions. However it was not what I expected, or what the team had hoped for, given the fact that in Spa, the car was not as competitive as it had been in the two previous races in Hungary and Germany. This was probably another example of how, this year, the situation in terms of which teams are competitive, has been governed by the nature of the track. On Friday, we had looked very strong, while we were less so on Saturday and Sunday, so maybe our competitors did not show their full potential on the first day. This meant the whole weekend was more difficult than we expected. On Sunday, the changing conditions meant that just staying on the track was quite difficult and given how easy it was to make a mistake, I was pleased with my performance, even if I had a solitary race, never really being able to challenge those ahead, while I did not have much pressure from behind.

On Sunday I will be returning to the Hungaroring, for a Ferrari Racing Days event, where I will be doing some demonstration laps in a Formula 1 car, the 2008 model, which for obvious reasons definitely has some special memories for me. Today I am Maranello, where I had meetings with my engineers and also did a session on our simulator, in preparation for the next round, the team’s home Grand Prix at Monza. That will be a great event, racing in front of our tifosi, but the reality is that it will be a very important race, because after the less that satisfactory performance in Belgium, the championship is not looking so easy for us. We need to keep pushing for the last six races, trying to be back in the fight for wins or at least as many podiums as possible. For sure it won’t be easy.

 

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