Massa's Blog

Singapore, one of the toughest races on the calendar

September 21, 2011 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Looking back briefly to the last Grand Prix at Monza, I must say there was a fantastic atmosphere throughout the weekend, especially so if you are a Ferrari driver, but unfortunately in a season where the lucky breaks do not seem to have come our way, that trend continued in Italy. It was a shame not to be able to give the tifosi the result they wanted, even if it’s been clear this year that we need more than just a bit of luck in order to win. My Italian Grand Prix was more or less over when Webber pushed me into a spin: I fought my way back up the field to sixth at the end. The car was producing a good enough pace to fight with the guys in front, but once you lose 20 seconds with an incident, your race is over. Monza is always a busy weekend if you wear the red race suit, but it was enjoyable racing in front of the home crowd. I went to the factory in Maranello on the Monday after the Grand Prix and spent Tuesday in the simulator, followed by a PR event on the Wednesday. Since then, I’ve been back home in Monaco apart from the weekend, when we went to a very special event, the wedding of our Team Principal, Stefano Domenicali, which was a very happy occasion.

Not so long ago, once the Monza weekend was finished, it meant the end of the championship was in sight. This year, that might well be the case mathematically it terms of who will take the titles, but there is still a lot of racing to go, as we are about to set off for the final part. It will be a very busy time, with no less than six races in ten weeks, including one brand new venue in the shape of India. For Scuderia Ferrari, our aim between now and the finale at my home event in Sao Paolo is to win some races. The next round in Singapore has some similarities to Monaco, so that might well suit us and our package quite well, with the cars running in maximum downforce configuration. After that, it’s the back-to-back races in Japan and Korea where even if the tracks are very different, the downforce levels are very similar, followed by India which will be a step into the dark for everyone in the paddock. The last two are in Abu Dhabi, followed by the finale at my home race at Interlagos. There is plenty of variety in these six weekends and hopefully we can good results in all of them. We have to remember however, that at this point in the season, the team’s main focus has to be on the 2012 car, so in terms of new developments, apart from components already planned to be introduced for these races, the pace of development on the 150 Italia will now be reduced.

For Singapore, Pirelli is supplying the Soft and Supersoft compounds, which definitely suit the characteristics of our car better than the harder tyres and if we had a free choice, these would definitely be the ones we would go for. But tyre choice is only one element of the car package and we will have to work hard if we are going to make the most of any advantage we might have at this race. It’s true our car was okay at the Monaco street circuit, so we can go to Singapore in reasonably optimistic frame of mind. We have been to Singapore three times now, so we know what to expect and the fact the race takes place at night is no longer a concern. The track is very well lit and visibility is not a problem. Rather than the light, it is the heat that makes this a tough event, one of the toughest races on the calendar. It is very hot and humid, even with the race beginning at 8 in the evening and the Singapore race is the longest of the season: I think last year it lasted a couple of minutes less than the full two hours, which is not so easy to deal with physically. I have taken that into consideration and have been training hard for this weekend.

With six races a long way from Europe, all the flying we have to do can be a bit much, but I accept as part of the job. It gives you some time to think about work and life in general. It’s also a good opportunity to catch up with films you want to see, because with our busy schedule it’s hard to find time to go to the movies or watch them at home. I plan to relax, think about many things and catch up with sleep which I have no problem doing on a plane. The best thing is that no one can telephone you on a flight! In the world we live in today, it’s impossible to be without your mobile phone but in the plane, it’s just you on your own, with your thoughts.

 

Important to do our job perfectly

September 7, 2011 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Since the Belgian Grand Prix, I spent some time at the factory having meetings and working on the simulator and apart from that, I have been at home in Monaco. On Wednesday, I head back to Maranello for some promotional work and the World Premiere of the new 458 Spider, before taking the short drive down to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix. I’m sure I don’t have to add that this is a weekend I am really looking forward to. I first raced in Italy way back in 2000, the year I was competing in Formula Renault. Italy definitely feels like my country, starting with the fact that I have Italian roots, going back to my grandfather who was born in the south of the Italy. My family has always had a very Italian tradition at home in Brazil, so it was a natural thing for me to move to Italy to pursue my career and my dream of being a Formula 1 driver. I remember everyone said that you need to go and race in England, because if you don’t do that then you will not get to Formula 1. But I took a different direction, having a career in Italy. It seems to have worked because not only did I become a Formula 1 driver, I became a Ferrari Formula 1 driver! Italy is therefore a very important country for me and I love to go there, especially to race. It is a big part of my life and combined with the fact that this weekend is the home race for the whole team, clearly the Monza weekend is something really special for me.

I can still remember my first race at Monza: I was competing in Formula Renault and had two races, one on Saturday in the Italian series and the other on Sunday in the European championship and I won them both. In fact, it was not my first ever race in Italy, which actually took place at Mugello and I’m pleased to say I won that one too. When I first came to Italy, I lived quite close to Monza, in a place called Erba. I lived there for a year, as I had a place just opposite the workshop of the team I raced for, living in the house that belonged to my team boss. So this weekend is very much a second home race and one where I usually meet plenty of people from my racing past in the Monza paddock.

Back to 2011 and of course this is a very important weekend for us. Not in the sense of it being a last chance for us this year or anything like that, but because we really want to produce a great result for ourselves, for the team and most of all for the fans. Spa was not fantastic for us and the cold weather accentuated our tyre problems, but this weekend, we have the same tyre compounds but hopefully much hotter weather. We will need a car with good top speed. Like all the teams, we will have a low downforce set-up unique to Monza, with small wings and in free practice you need to make sure the car is well balanced with good traction to pull out of the slow chicanes and that it is able to deal with jumping the kerbs, which is vital for a quick lap time, especially in qualifying.

As for the race, I think we will see a lot of overtaking, because of the high speed nature of the track and the fact we will have two zones where we can use the DRS. I’m not saying it will be an advantage to be lying second coming into Parabolica on the last lap to overtake the car in front, because if you have a good car, it’s probably a better strategy to pass before then and pull out a gap that is bigger than one second. However, if you are fighting right down to the last lap, that could be the case, which would make for a very exciting race. At this point of the season, it is not difficult to predict that Scuderia Ferrari, McLaren and of course Red Bull Racing will be the main contenders. However, Mercedes have shown they have possibly the best top speed on the straight out of all of us and as that is so important at this circuit, they could also have some influence on the final result.

Monza is our last weekend of racing in Europe this year and, because this season has not gone so well for us, it will be even more important to do our job perfectly and try and get the result that we and all the tifosi want and deserve. For my part, I can’t wait to drive through those historic gates of the Monza park on Thursday morning, then start driving on Friday, leading up to trying to improve on my third place from last year. Standing on that incredible podium which hangs over the pit lane, looking down at the crowd, is a great experience and I want to do it again on Sunday.

 

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