Massa's Blog

First day in Bahrain

April 18, 2012 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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I arrived in Bahrain this morning, on an overnight flight from Shanghai and as always, it was lovely to have Raffaela and Felipinho with me. Today, I’ve been having a rest in the hotel, as well as working on my fitness in the gym, then tomorrow it will be off the track: the first briefing of the day is at 2.30, when I meet up with my race engineer Rob Smedley and the other engineers that work specifically on my car. Then, I’m in the FIA conference and at 5.30 comes the more general meeting with all the engineers, while in the evening, I will be at an event to launch the 458 Spider to our customers. Then of course on Friday, it’s time to get back on track and honestly, I can’t wait. On Sunday in Shanghai, I finally managed to have a “normal” race, the first of the year that went off without any particular problems. Over the weekend there, things steadily got better: I was struggling with the balance of the car in all three free practice sessions and then the situation suddenly improved in qualifying, to such an extent that my gap to Fernando was considerably reduced. Then, in the race, the car was even better, but I found myself in traffic too often and was not able to make the most of the strategy I was on. A shame, as it would have been nice to finally move off the horrible zero points mark in the classification. So, that is clearly what I plan to do this weekend, by finishing the race in the top ten. If the positive trend that began in Shanghai continues, then it should be possible. It’s true that, on paper, the track characteristics do not seem that suited to the F2012, but it will be important to make the best use of the tyres, which is the real key to success here and at some other tracks too.

The Sakhir circuit is one of my favourites, and it’s not by chance that I’ve won here twice along with a second place too. Of my eleven wins, no less than eight of them have all come from just three circuits: three at Istanbul, two at Interlagos and the same number here at Sakhir. These tracks are very different to one another, so it can’t be said there is some sort of technical reason behind these statistics. However, let’s just say that, if only for reasons of bad luck, I would have been disappointed if this race had been cancelled, given that already this year, there is no Turkish Grand Prix. Furthermore, I have to say I have always enjoyed coming here, even in the days when we ran long test sessions here. The people have always been very hospitable and cordial and, as I said already in Shanghai over the past few days, I hope the Grand Prix can be an occasion for unity, as should be the case with any sporting event. From what I have seen today, the situation seems calm: on the journey from the airport to the hotel, it all seemed just as it did two years ago and according to the guys I spoke to by phone at the track, everything is going on as usual on a Wednesday at a race outside Europe. If the decision was taken to keep the race on the calendar, it means that the conditions are right to do so and from what we have seen so far, there is nothing to oppose that view.

 

China and Brazil, two countries with a lot of passion

April 11, 2012 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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China is a big country, but even bigger is the enthusiasm the Chinese have for Formula 1! I have to say it’s hard to find another place among the many we visit during the season where there is a greater sense of passion from the fans: maybe only in Italy and Brazil do you get a similar level. I arrived in Shanghai two days ago and found so many people already waiting for me at the airport, with presents for me and Felipinho. Even outside the hotel – look at the photos I’ve posted on @felipe1massa – there is always someone waiting, whether it’s pouring with rain like last night, or if it’s sunny.

I like this warmth and this enthusiasm which energises me a lot. There is so much energy coming off this city too: enormous, chaotic, call it what you will, but it’s certainly alive. I’ve said it before in the past, it reminds me of Sao Paolo. For sure, we Brazilians are different to the Chinese, but the vitality of the two cities is very similar. There is a lot to do and I really enjoyed these past two days relaxing with Raffaela and Felipinho, for whom this is his first time in China!

This afternoon, I started tackling my promotional duties for Ferrari and its partners. We have a lot of them in the next few days, as is normal with a race that takes place in a country that is in a state of rapid growth, like China and indeed it’s another thing it shares with my native Brazil. Then tomorrow afternoon it will be time to start the usual meetings with the engineers to prepare for the race. I really hope I can have a normal Grand Prix without problems, right from Friday: that is fundamental to being able to finally get a good result. I know it won’t be easy, also because I don’t think we can expect any major new elements, at least in the short term. We will have to try and squeeze every last drop out of what we have, as Fernando has managed to do in both Australia and Malaysia.

I was at Maranello last week too, working on the simulator to be as well prepared as possible for the next two races, studying every minute detail relating to what did not work properly in Melbourne and Sepang, to get it right and be ready for China and Bahrain. It’s a tricky time for me and it cannot go on and I really don’t want it to that’s for sure. I know there is plenty of criticism of me from the outside, but I’m used to that, as it’s certainly not the first time it has happened. I feel the team has faith in me and that’s what matters. I am well aware, having been through it many times in the past, that it takes very little for a situation to swing from negative to positive.

Last year in China, I finished the race in sixth place, but it was only in the latter stages that I was struggling, because on the Prime tyre, I could not match the pace I had on the Option. A shame, as I remember still lying second on lap 43. I’ve been on the Shanghai podium twice: on the third step in 2007 and on the second in 2008. It’s a track I like: there are many different types of corner and a very long straight where even before the days of DRS, you could overtake. Sure, this year, we will suffer a bit, especially in terms of top speed, therefore it won’t be easy for us. However, it’s not definite that whoever is fastest wins in the end…

 

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