Massa's Blog

We have made a step forward

May 10, 2012 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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I have just arrived in Barcelona and I can’t wait for the race weekend to start after what was quite a long break since the last Grand Prix. The most important part of this break of three weeks between Bahrain and the Spanish Grand Prix was obviously the test in Mugello. It was good to make use of this extra time, although I am not sure quite how useful it was. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always useful to test, but in order to run at Mugello, we “lost” one test before the start of the season and I’m not sure if that is the way to go. However, I have to say it was absolutely fantastic to drive a Formula 1 car at Mugello again. It’s a great track, the one where I had my first ever drive in a Formula 1 car and I also have happy memories of racing in junior categories there. It was great to be there, especially when you race for Ferrari, because even at the test, there was a big turn out of spectators to support us. It is a bit too early to say how much progress we have made with this test and the real answer will not come until maybe the qualifying session in Barcelona on Saturday. But for sure we have made a step forward, with new parts, which Fernando tried on the last of the three days in Mugello, producing more performance and now we will have even more new parts to assess on Friday at the Catalunya track. There is no doubting how hard everyone has been working at Mugello during this break in the calendar and even before then, but all the other teams will have been developing their cars. We have said it many times before, but it is still true today; we must make a bigger step forward than the teams who were faster than us in the first part of the season. This season, the field is very close so the smallest change to a car can make a big difference. Already in Bahrain, I was feeling more comfortable and more confident in the car, as we had by then already improved our pace and the way the car worked with the tyres.

Apart from the test, I have spent some time in Maranello: I had a day in the simulator and later, we organised a very nice evening, as I went to dinner with all the mechanics and engineers who work on my car. It is always fantastic to be with the guys, not just at the track, but also away from it in a more relaxed environment. Then, this Tuesday I was at the Fiorano track for the event Ferrari organised to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Gilles Villeneuve. His son Jacques drove one of his old cars: he and I were team-mates at Sauber in 2005 and we occasionally meet up as we have a good relationship. It was nice to see him drive his father’s car on this important day. I was too young to have watched Gilles on television, but I have seen all the footage and even if the Dijon race is the one you see most, more than that, I liked the amazing videos that allowed you to see his incredible driving style. I didn’t drive his car, but a few years ago, when Ferrari had a party to celebrate its sixtieth anniversary, I drove one of Niki Lauda’s F1 cars. It was very nice to drive, with plenty of mechanical grip but virtually no aero downforce and plenty of power through an old-style gearbox. You drove them sideways in those days, so completely different to today. Actually, the day before that, I drove an even older car, one of the ones used by Farina – that was very different with the throttle pedal in the middle and the brake on the right, which was pretty confusing!

Back to the present and I am looking forward to racing in Barcelona. I have some good memories from there, I had a great race in 2007, when I had a big fight with Fernando actually, going into the first corner, before going on to win the Grand Prix. The following year was also good for me, as I finished second. Of course, it is the track that every F1 driver has spent more time driving than any other, if you take into account all the tests we do there, but you never really know it, because it is different every time and it can be cold or hot or wet and just the slightest change in temperature can have a big effect on how the car behaves. I hope that this year my result could come close to what I achieved in those two years: at least it is the right direction to follow.

 

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…

 

I know I can count on a second family

March 29, 2012 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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One day to be with the team, to analyse in detail every moment of these first two Grands Prix of 2012, to understand how and why things did not go the way we wanted in Australia and Malaysia. I changed my plans and came to Maranello after the race in Sepang, with this purpose in mind. I met my engineer Rob Smedley and I spent a lot of time with Pat Fry, going over everything that happened, because this is the only way I think we can understand the reasons behind these two bad weekends. I am disappointed, there is no denying it: not scoring any points in two races hurts, but now it’s time to turn the page. It’s the not the first time I’ve gone through a difficult moment like this and I know well that things can change quickly, but now is the moment to do my utmost because I want this negative period to come to an end. I want things to return to normal, to a situation in which I can show my talent as I have always done and as the team knows I can do. I was very happy to read and hear what was said by President Montezemolo, our boss Stefano Domenicali and my team-mate Fernando. Their words did not come as a surprise, because I know I can count on the support of what is a real second family for me, which is what Ferrari has been to me for all these years. I feel there is confidence around me, that the team is united in its support for me and that is very important. Now I want to transform that into results to pay back all this support. Now, I am heading home to Monaco to spend a few days with my family, then next week I will be back in Maranello for further meetings with the engineers and for a bit of time working on the simulator. Pat ran through with me the details of the F2012 development programme and we hope we can slightly improve our performance already in Shanghai. Both there and at Sakhir, one of my favourite tracks, we will once again be fighting on the counter-attack, trying to fine tune the car as well as possible to make the most of any opportunity, just as Fernando did in Sepang. The championship looks like being long and closely contested, with many teams seemingly able to fight for the top places and it only takes a little to find yourself in the front or the back. We hope we can make good progress as soon as possible and put ourselves solidly in the lead group!

 

I can’t wait to get on the track!

March 13, 2012 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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This morning I arrived in Melbourne. The journey from Sao Paulo is very long: first you go to Santiago in Chile, then a long hop as far as Auckland in New Zealand, which is the final stop before we arrive in Australia. It’s funny: you lose a day because you cross the International Date Line heading West, and I’ll have to take the journey back the other way to get it back again! Today I had some rest after so many hours in an aeroplane and I tried to adapt quickly to the different time zone. My father is here with me: it’s always nice to have him alongside me at a race weekend. So we’ve arrived at the first grand prix of the year. I can’t wait to get started and I believe that wish is shared with all my fellow drivers. We racers miss competition like crazy and six days of testing are definitely not enough to satisfy our desire to race. I am very curious to see how things will go here in Melbourne. I believe it’s never been as difficult as this year to have a precise picture of the situation based on the winter tests alone: we will begin to learn the truth only in Saturday afternoon’s qualifying when we are all in the same conditions. I already said this last week in Sao Paulo: in my head is the thought that we can fight for the podium but that doesn’t mean that I don’t agree with what Pat Fry said in Barcelona. I know perfectly well that the tests didn’t go as we’d hoped because we had some very ambitious targets in terms of performance. We had some problems getting the best out of the exhaust system we had chosen and we had to go for a makeshift solution. That cost us precious time and obviously also a bit of performance. Only in the last two days could Fernando and I do some true and meaningful work on the set-up of the F2012. I remain convinced that this car has great potential: we must just find the way to get everything from it. We hope to start doing that as soon as this weekend at Albert Park! I like this city. There is a nice climate, hot as I like it: today it was over 30°C, a temperature very similar to Sao Paulo. The fans also have a lot of enthusiasm and it’s always nice to see so many Ferrari flags in the grandstands, which are as packed as this in few other circuits. According to the weather forecast, tomorrow evening it will freshen up a bit and there could be some rain on Thursday but it should stay dry for Saturday and Sunday. At this year’s tests we only had a couple of hours of running on a wet track on my last day at Barcelona so it’s hard to have an exact idea of how the car behaves in those conditions. I’ve never had much luck at Albert Park. I’ve only managed to finish the race in the points three times in my nine appearances at the Australian Grand Prix. One of those was on the third step of the podium two years ago. It would certainly be fantastic to manage that again but I know that it will be difficult. There’s a great field of competitors: it’s not just Red Bull and McLaren who are strong. Other teams from Mercedes to Lotus to Force India and Toro Rosso could have their say. Everything’s there for the taking, from the first laps in qualifying. One way or the other, I can’t wait to get on the track!

 

In 2012 we must have a better season

November 8, 2011 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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I have just arrived in Abu Dhabi from Sao Paolo where I spent the time since the last round of the championship in New Delhi. I still have very vivid memories of my first trip to India, even if I see no point in going over what happened in the race itself. The track was very nice, one of the best on the calendar, but above all the people there were very excited about Formula 1. With more and more places in the world appearing to be the same, India was so very different to anything I had seen before. The people were very welcoming and friendly and it was clear that the country has huge potential for growth, but at the same time you still also see a lot of poverty. Despite this, I think India has a definite future in F1 and this year, if not everything was quite ready, we have to make allowances for the fact it was only the first year for the Grand Prix there.

With the Formula 1 season going through to the end of November, this year was the first time in many years that I have not attended the Ferrari World Finals event which took place at Mugello last weekend, but of course I am aware of what our President Montezemolo and Domenicali said about me over there, making it clear once again that I am definitely driving for the Scuderia next season. From my point of view, it is important that I have the full support of the team behind me, which is always very positive. However, at the moment my main focus is on continuing to push as hard as I can for these last two races of the season. I know that next year will be a very important one for the whole team, given that this season did not go as well as expected and it will also be a very important time for me. Within the team, we are already looking to next year, knowing that our pre-season target must be to produce a package that can be competitive from the very first Grand Prix, allowing us to fight for the win at every race. In 2012 we must have a better season than this one.

Now we come to Abu Dhabi, where I only drove for the first time last year, as I missed the first race there in 2009, because of my injury. The facility itself is fantastic and the track is quite interesting. However, one negative point about it was that we did not see much overtaking, but I expect this year with the DRS, it should help to produce a better race this weekend. It’s a unique timetable on Sunday as we start the race in daylight and then go on to race under the lights at night. This doesn’t present any problem, in fact the positive element is that it gets cooler as the race goes on and the track lighting is excellent. For us these last two races are a final chance to get some good results, but also these recent races have been very much part of our preparations for 2012. We have been trying some components that could find their way onto the new car, but also we have been looking at new ideas in terms of how we run the car and how best to adapt the set-up. I think this is very important as part of our preparation for the future, not just from a technical point of view but also how we approach the race weekend.

The race at Yas Marina is also special for Ferrari because of the team’s many close links with Abu Dhabi, which is most obviously seen from the fact we have our own theme park there, just alongside the race track, Ferrari World. Last year I went for a ride on the fantastic rollercoaster they have there, which was an enjoyable and exhilarating experience, so I can’t wait to go again and this time, I’ll take my wife with me!

 

Wheldon and Simoncelli – these have been really difficult times

October 25, 2011 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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I am just arrived in India. This is my very first visit to this country and I am looking forward to discovering a new venue to race, because that is what I do, that’s my profession and I love racing. However, at the moment all my thoughts are with the families and friends of Marco Simoncelli and Dan Wheldon. It seems that when bad things happen, they come all at once. Because of the time difference between Malaysia and Brazil, I found out about the MotoGP accident as soon as I woke up on Sunday morning when I was at home in Sao Paulo. It is unbelievable and I was in a state of shock afterwards. Simoncelli was such a nice guy and one of the characters in the sport of motorcycle racing and a great talent. Coming so soon after the death of Dan Wheldon, who was a friend of mine, these have been really difficult times and it is just unbelievable that these sad events happened just one week apart. Of course, those of us who race, we always know the risk is there, every time you go out on track. When you are racing, you do not think so much about the risks and you always push hard, sometimes too hard. But all the same, it is still a terrible shock when you see something like that and it reminds you the risk is there. I am not qualified to talk about Simoncelli’s accident, because I have no experience of bike racing, but in the case of Dan’s crash, hopefully the only good thing to come out of it could be that it serves as a wake-up call for Indy cars to improve their safety levels, in the same way that what happened in Imola in ’94 led to increased safety in F1. In my opinion, Indy needs to do a lot to improve safety. There is no point in people complaining about it and blaming others, because what is needed now is some calm analysis and then a response from the sport’s organisation. Maybe what Indy needs to start with, given the type of circuit and the number of cars would be to try running cars with enclosed cockpits, but this is just one idea and the whole safety package needs to be looked at completely.

Korea was my one hundred and fiftieth Grand Prix and almost all of them have been at the wheel of a Ferrari, in fact my hundredth race with the Scuderia should coincide with the final round of the season at home in Interlagos. It’s always great to achieve a nice number like 150 races. I still have some years ahead of me in this sport, as I’m not so old and so I plan to keep pushing to get better results than the one in Korea which did not turn into much of a celebration for my 150th. All the same, I enjoyed driving at Yeongam, almost discovering the track for the first time given how much rain we had there in 2010.

In the preparation for the Grand Prix of India, I spent a day on the simulator to get a general impression of the track and I’ve also got the latest version of the 2011 Formula 1computer game that features this circuit, which means I at least have a feel for it and know where the corners are. First impressions are that it is a nice track and it has some similarities to the last venue in Yeongam, in that it has a long straight and many different types of corner from very fast to very slow hairpins with several changes of gradient too. However, that’s where comparisons to Korea end as it should be much hotter this weekend and also because we will run the Soft and Hard tyres from Pirelli, historically not the ideal choice for the 150º Italia. I hope that we have made some progress in this area and that we can get a good result. Like I said, it will be my first time in India and I love discovering new places, so I am convinced it will be a very interesting week. The Indian people love sport and I am sure there will be a lot of local interest in the Grand Prix, in Formula 1 and in racing in general. I have enjoyed spending a few days here in Sao Paolo with my family, relaxing and training, but now I am keen to get going again, to discover a new circuit and to see if I can secure a good result with just three races left to go this year.

 

What passion in Japan!

October 4, 2011 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Like I said last week, the Singapore Grand Prix is already yesterday’s news and there are no more reasons to talk about a weekend that was far from positive for me. It’s better to concentrate on the next race weekend, Japan, hoping that it starts well and ends without any unpleasant surprises. Just one more thing before I finally turn the

page: I’ve been told that there was a bit of a storm over a phrase that my race engineer said during the race. Apart from the fact that I don’t recall what Rob said, I don’t think there’s any value in stirring up trouble now and trying to link this with the subsequent contact with

Hamilton: they are two separate moments and they have nothing to do with each other. I’m sure that Lewis and I will find a way to clear this up and put a lid on this story, as is only correct between two drivers. What happens on the track should remain on the track.

Suzuka is a track I really like and it is up there with Spa in terms of enjoyment, mainly because there are a lot of high speed corners which are very challenging and enjoyable when you get it right. There’s a real mix, as there are also some slow corners in the middle section and the Esses after the first corner, where you need a car to change direction very quickly and where you can make up or lose a lot of time. In the second sector you have the slow hairpin and then Spoon which is very interesting. Everyone talks about the 130R, but to be honest since they altered it on safety grounds it has become a bit like Eau Rouge at Spa, because in a Formula 1 car it is now almost a straight. 2006 was a very good year for me at Suzuka, where I qualified on pole position and finished second: doing that again this coming weekend would be nice, but we have to be realistic about the fact we will be facing the usual tough opponents. As to Ferrari’s chances, we must wait and see until we actually go out on track, because this season we have sometimes been strong on tracks where we had not expected to be competitive and sometimes it was the opposite. By the end of Friday free practice, we should begin to get an idea of our Japanese form. I hope we can be able to fight for the top places, even if, at this point of the season, there is not much more to come in the way of updates in terms of aerodynamics and other developments. While all the drivers like Suzuka, it has often been frustrating to race there, as overtaking is very difficult, but this year with the DRS, KERS and the influence of the Pirelli tyres, I expect that situation to change. I believe the plan is to have two DRS zones which will be a big help.

I am happy to be going to Japan: I have heard that some of the MotoGP riders wanted to boycott their Japanese GP, which takes place at a circuit which is nearer to the Fukushima nuclear plant, but we need to consider that Suzuka is in a completely different part of the country. I have no concerns about going and I think it is good that Formula 1 is going to put on a show in a country that really appreciates our sport. I always love being in Japan and at the track, I will be there to do my job, but I am also hoping to see the people smiling and enjoying themselves. The Japanese fans are among the best in the world: on a Thursday when there is no on-track action, even if it is raining, they will sit in the grandstands to see what is going on in pit lane. You can feel the love they have for the sport and I am looking forward to being there together with them.

At this time of year, I begin to think of the karting event we organise in Florianapolis, Brazil in December and it’s great that many F1 drivers have signed up to take part this year. Most of the organisation is done by my father and brother and another colleague, but I also get involved, inviting people along. It started out as fun and has become a very big event, growing every year. Why do Formula 1 drivers want to spend the first weekend after the season driving a kart? Given that you drive on a small track, the speed is relatively very high, therefore it has a lot in common with F1. It is also an opportunity to race with completely equal equipment, as every driver gets the same brand new chassis and engine and you draw lots for which engine you get for the first race and then even in between the races.

After attending an event for our primary sponsor Philip Morris on Friday in Belgrade, I left for Japan on Monday, spending a few days in Tokyo, which is always a great place to visit and then on to Suzuka very early on Thursday morning, for the first of five remaining chances to end the year with some good results.

 

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.

 

Staying at home was the best holiday

August 24, 2011 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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I am now back in Europe having spent all of the break since the Hungarian Grand Prix at home with my family in Sao Paolo. On the Monday after Budapest I went to Maranello for a day working on the simulator and from there I flew to Brazil. What did I do in these few weeks? To be honest, very little, just enjoying catching up with friends and family members that I don't see so often when I am based in Monaco for much of the season. It's winter in Brazil right now, so it did not feel like the time to take a real holiday going somewhere special. With all the travelling we do for work, staying in hotels around the world, for me, staying at home was the best holiday anyway.

Even at home, I did manage a day at the race track, at the Interlagos circuit and it was a very different feeling to being at a grand prix. We have a championship supported by Fiat here in Brazil, which has one category for single-seaters, one for touring cars and a third for motorbikes and I had an enjoyable time doing a day's testing in the touring car. It took me back to the last time I raced cars that had a roof, when I raced Alfa Romeos in 2001!

With everyone starting back at work in Maranello at the beginning of the week, I have already been on the phone talking with Stefano (Domenicali) and with my race engineer Rob (Smedley) just to catch up with the latest news about their holidays and more importantly to find out how preparations are going for this weekend in Spa. Of course, even if no work has been permitted because of the agreement between the FOTA member teams for the past two weeks, work was already carried out before the break to prepare for the next two races in Belgium and in Italy and we will be bringing some aero updates to Spa, including new wings to try out. Everything seems to be going in the direction we expected, so I hope we can have a good weekend. Like most drivers, I love driving at Spa and I have some good memories of winning there in 2008, finishing second the year before that, while last year I was just off the podium in fourth spot. I will be aiming for a repeat of 2008! I have been following the discussion regarding the use of DRS at the Eau Rouge corner and I think banning its use there for the whole weekend is the right decision: as racing drivers, we would always try and use DRS there and that could lead to an accident, because of the particular nature of the corner. So, just as was the case in the tunnel in Monaco, I think this is the best solution. I see there has also been talk about re-introducing some testing during the F1 season and I have to say I would be in favour of this. All drivers and teams want to be as well prepared as possible for each race and, as the top level of motorsport, some testing during the year should be allowed. Of course, we will never return to the way it used to be, with testing almost every day in between races, which was incredibly expensive. Maybe, we could do what they sometimes do in MotoGP and stay on at some circuits on the Monday after a race, which would reduce costs.

So now we come to the final eight races of the season, which means there is still a lot of racing ahead of us and I agree with Domenicali that, as a team, we should simply try and win as many races as possible and score plenty of points, without looking too closely at the championship situation. Certainly from a personal point of view, my most immediate aim is to try and record my first victory of this year. It's not going to be an easy few months, but we are certainly not going to give up. There is always a special atmosphere at Spa and I'm not just referring to the weather. It is one of those tracks where you get a sense of history and this weekend, one of my former team-mates has a historic moment of his own as Michael Schumacher will celebrate the twentieth anniversary of his first ever Formula 1 race, which took place in Belgium in 1991. Apart from all his other achievements, this is another great one and I am sure he is proud of it. I definitely like the idea of also spending twenty years in F1, but I'm not sure if I can do it! I've enjoyed relaxing during this break, which was very welcome after a busy time up to Hungary, but now I am fully rested and eager to go racing once again, because all of us at Ferrari is keen to prove to our fans that we can do better in these final eight races than we did in the first eleven.

 

Budapest: an important part of my personal history

July 27, 2011 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Looking back at the Nurburgring, before we get on the serious business of racing, I have to say I don’t think I can ever remember being that cold at a Grand Prix meeting and when you consider it was the middle of July in Europe, it was unbelievable. On the work related front, that cold weather played its part in assessing the level of improvement on the 150º Italia, because normally the low ambient and track temperatures would have been seriously against us in terms of our ability to get the tyres up to the optimal working temperature. However, at the Nurburgring, although we suffered from this problem, more obviously in qualifying, clearly it was not bad as it was a few races ago and that is a positive sign.

In the race on Sunday, our performance was very good, we ran at a strong pace and the car was competitive. At the first corner, I found myself behind Nico Rosberg and that conditioned my race, because it took me a long time to get past, as the Mercedes has excellent straight line speed and by then, the guys in front had managed to pull away. That was really my main issue on Sunday afternoon, but once I got past him, my pace was excellent and I was able to fight with those ahead of me. I had an exciting fight with Sebastian (Vettel,) while when I was battling with Webber, it was at a point where he had new tyres and I was about to come in. The fight with Sebastian went on for much of the race, right down to that final pit stop on the last lap, where unfortunately we lost out. It was a shame, but we know we still have work to do in improving some elements of the pit stop, including the wheel nut itself.

With a McLaren and a Ferrari finishing ahead of a Red Bull, there are suggestions that if we and McLaren maintain good form, then it might help us in the fight for the championship, by taking points from Red Bull. However, even if there are still nine races to go, it’s not going to be an easy battle, specifically because Sebastian has such a big lead. But we continue to fight on a race by race basis, with the aim of winning as many as possible between now and the final in Brazil.

On Wednesday afternoon, I travel to Budapest for the next round and, on current form, we can be optimistic of having another positive weekend. Adding to that feeling is the fact we will again have the Pirelli Soft and Supersoft tyres, which we know suits our car best and in Hungary, where we can expect more normal summer weather, the hot temperatures will also be on our side. In addition, our development programme is still on-going and we will have some minor updates again this weekend, which I hope will make the car even stronger.

The nature of the Hungaroring track means the race here has sometimes been a bit processional: this year for sure there will be more overtaking, not by a big amount as the main straight is not so long, but all the same, the DRS will help. Combined with the possibility of tyre degradation in the high temperatures, I think the crowd can expect a good show on Sunday with some interesting strategies to watch and certainly those conditions will suit us, as the 150º Italia is kind to its tyres in terms of degradation.

Clearly, after what happened two years ago, Budapest and the Hungarian people are an important part of my personal history and once again I plan to meet the people who helped me through that difficult time, both at the track and the hospital. Since the accident, I have a lot of fans there: I don’t think they became my fans because of the accident, but rather because I spent some time in Budapest and made a full recovery, which was like a victory for me and the people here felt part of that victory.

 

We need to keep the momentum

July 16, 2011 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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I’m currently enjoying a few days at home in Monaco after what has been a very busy time since leaving Silverstone after the last race. Looking back briefly at the British Grand Prix, my result was not the best, but I came away from England feeling very encouraged by the performance of the 150º Italia over the course of the weekend. The race itself could have gone better, but as I explained before, from quite early on, around lap 20 or so, my car picked up a piece of debris in the floor, which affected my level of downforce and reduced my pace. That in turn meant I was using the tyres more than I should which impacted on the final result. However, in general our pace at Silverstone was much better than we had expected at this circuit and that is down to an excellent job from the team and those working back in the factory. So now I expect we can continue to move forward like this in the second half of the season. Okay, as from now the rules regarding the off-throttle diffuser go back to where they were, but the suggestion that our improved performance at the last race came from the rule change is wrong: when the engine mapping was changed, I would say we were losing maybe around four tenths of a second, depending on the track. But this lack of downforce should theoretically make it more difficult to get the tyres to work, especially the hard compound, but even in this configuration, Silverstone was the first time we were able to make the hard tyres work very well. As an example, just look at the first part of qualifying at Silverstone where I was third quickest, just a tenth of a second behind the fastest man, using the hard tyre. This means that our performance level was down to all the new components and updates we brought to Silverstone and was not connected to the rule change.

I have also spent a few days in Maranello, with a busy schedule both on the technical front and with promotional work. For two days, I worked in the simulator as well as attending meetings with the engineers and I also attended the annual meeting of the Ferrari dealers, coming from all the 58 countries where the Prancing Horse is present. On Friday, I drove our 3-seater F1 car at Fiorano for a promotional event: I have driven it before and it is definitely an entertaining experience, great fun. The best part is seeing the faces of the people as they prepare to get in the car. There is no other way to say it, they are simply very scared! I also had the opportunity to drive it with my engineers in the car, which actually is very good from a work point of view, so they can understand what it is we do in the cockpit, rather than just shouting at us to go faster all the time! I have to say, my race engineer Rob Smedley was very quiet, very nervous and shaking when he got out of the car J! I also took Pat Fry and Giuliano Salvi and then I also took my wife for a ride. She has been in it before and obviously enjoyed the experience although at the moment she has a rather stiff neck.

Looking ahead to next weekend’s German Grand Prix, it is an event I enjoy and I have been on the podium four times, although three of those have been at Hockenheim and then I have two additional podiums from coming second at the Nurburgring in the 2007 European GP, after leading Fernando in the McLaren for much of the race, and third again behind Michael and Fernando in 2007, my first ever podium in the career. It is an interesting circuit, with some unusual corners, uphill and downhill and slow turns in the modified first sector. So you need good downforce, but there are also some straights where straight line speed is important and based on what we saw from our aero package in Silverstone, I have high hopes that we can continue in the right direction in Germany. As for the championship, what can I say? As long there is a mathematical possibility there is always hope. I have said it so often, but it’s still true, that at Ferrari we never give up and we keep on fighting. The best strategy is simply to think about the season one race at a time, like we did at Silverstone. Now we need to keep the momentum this weekend and then immediately afterwards in Hungary, as that comes just one week later.

 

A good car now is a good step for 2012

July 6, 2011 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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On Wednesday I fly to England for the British Grand Prix which is more or less the halfway point in the championship and for Ferrari it will be a case of seeing if it can also be a turning point, after a tough first half of 2011.

Immediately after the race in Valencia, I flew home to Monaco and then, at the end of last week, I went to Maranello for a couple of days of meetings with the engineers and work in the simulator to prepare for the next series of races. In the simulator we were working on many different elements, looking at both the Silverstone and Barcelona circuits, including the new engine maps that are now needed to fit the regulations and other areas on the car, including evaluating new components we hope to run at Silverstone this weekend. The reason we also ran a simulation using the Barcelona circuit is that the Spanish track is the “baseline” track for all our work in the simulator. We nearly always run the Catalunya track when we want to try something new.

I like coming to Silverstone which I know well, but this year it will be a bit different as they have completely relocated the paddock to another part of the track. At the most basic level, it means we are at least going to have to learn new corner numbers to use when talking to the engineers! On a more fundamental level, this change might slightly affect strategy because, depending on the length of pit lane, it might alter the overall time, either up or down, for a pit stop. We have looked at it on the simulator, but we need to experience it for real on Friday before we can be sure. Silverstone is a very famous circuit and the British Grand Prix is always an important appointment on the calendar. It has a unique atmosphere, always with a very big and happy crowd that really loves motor racing. It is always a pleasure to see the packed grandstands and, even though I am not British, I feel motivated and get a good feeling there.

The important question is how well the 150º Italia will perform here. It is true, as many people have said, that the last three circuits suited our car well, but I expect it to also perform well at Silverstone thanks to developments we have introduced, although of course the other teams will probably have done the same. I expect we will be competitive, but we must wait and see how the car works at a type of track where, earlier in the year, we were not so competitive. The reason this is important is that, if we are competitive in England, then it confirms we have improved a lot and have reduced the gap to the other teams. We will also see how much we have improved our performance with the Hard Pirelli tyres, which we have not used them since Barcelona. We will also have the Soft tyre in Silverstone as the Option and that is a good thing, because it means we have a tyre that suits us well for qualifying and maybe for a major part of the race as well. Unless we get some typical British weather and it rains, in which case I believe we can also be in good shape, as we were quick in those conditions in Canada.

There has been a lot of discussion about whether Ferrari’s championship chances are already over this early in the season. I don’t know the answer to that, but will still tackle every race in the same way, trying to win it. Getting the first win of the season is our immediate task and then trying to win more. Only at the end of the year, should we look at the championship situation. Realistically, Sebastian Vettel would need to do a really crazy job to lose the title. But we cannot give up and this situation changes nothing in our approach, because a victory is already a very nice thing to have and some wins this year would show we have done a good job. We must not forget that improving the car and its performance can also be important for 2012, because there are not so many rule changes coming which means that the car will not change completely compared to this year. A good car now and at the final race of 2011 is already a good step forward for 2012.

 

Valencia has good memories for me

June 22, 2011 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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I have just arrived in Valencia today, Wednesday, after spending a week at home in Sao Paolo following on from the Canadian Grand Prix that had promised so much but did not deliver the result I was capable of getting. But in a busy Formula 1 season like this one, you don’t have long to wait to try again and that is what I plan to do this weekend. The Valencia street circuit has good memories for me, because I had a great start here, winning the very first race held in 2008, having started from pole position. I missed the 2009 event of course and then I was competitive again last year, having a good race until the well documented incident with the Safety Car. So there are plenty of reasons to expect we can have another strong weekend this year and in the very hot conditions predicted for the next few days, the 150º Italia should get the tyres to work well too.

One of the criticisms of this street circuit was that it turned out to be very difficult to overtake other cars, but this year we have the Downforce Reduction System and, like in Canada, we have two DRS zones where we can operate it. For sure, this will change the characteristics of the race, making it much easier to overtake. However, you have to do everything you can to ensure your car is competitive throughout the whole race, because this is the direction we have seen things go this year, in that if you are not competitive then it is very easy to lose places to other cars. In the past, before DRS, even if your car was slower than the one behind, you could defend your position more easily, keeping the car behind and not getting passed.

Another interesting factor will be our tyre choice here, because for the first time this season we will be running Pirelli’s Medium compound tyre as the Prime, with the Soft, that we know well by now, as the Option. I drove with the Medium in winter testing, but it was much colder then, which means it behaved very differently and a couple of weeks ago, in Montreal, we were given the opportunity to evaluate it quickly during free practice, but the Canadian track surface is very different to the one in Valencia. If I had to sum up the new tyre, I would say it is very much like the original Hard tyre we had from Pirelli earlier this season. After a few races, they changed it, making it harder still and this Medium feels like the original Hard. The Ferrari engineers have been working intensely on adapting the car to suit the tyres, as we have struggled more with the harder end of the compound range and we will test again a modified suspension to try and make it more suited to them.

We are heading for a very busy part of the season, with a run of four races in five weeks and although Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro has been competitive in the last couple of races, we will soon be heading to Silverstone which is more likely to suit our rivals who have gone better on tracks that require more aerodynamic downforce. However, we have definitely made progress in this area since the last time we were in Spain, at the Barcelona circuit and it will be interesting to see where we stand this weekend: even if Valencia is a street track, sitting somewhere between Monaco and Canada in terms of its characteristics, it still has a final high speed sector which will be an interesting indication of how much progress we have made on our car and we will get the first indications on Friday, in free practice.

 

Tackling the championship one race at a time

June 8, 2011 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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I just landed in Montreal a short while ago, having spent almost a week back at home in Sao Paolo and with just the one hour time difference between the two cities, there is no problem linked to jet lag, which is a good thing. It had been quite a while since I had been in Brazil, so I did not do much except stay at home, catching up with friends and family. As in the rest of the world, the Senna film has, not surprisingly, had a big impact here in Brazil and I went to the cinema to see it. I enjoyed it, because the director found images we had never seen before and the subject was well researched, covering not just all the highlights of Ayrton’s career, but also the political situations that developed around him. Even people with no interest in F1 have felt it was compelling viewing. Of course I also worked on my training and kept in touch with the guys back in the factory to see what developments are coming on the car. In the past, by the time you got to Canada, the shape of the championship was pretty much defined already, but now, as the calendar is so long, we cannot say anything is decided for sure yet. So, everyone in Maranello is working flat out in their respective areas to continue improving the car so that myself and Fernando can race competitively, as we showed we could in the last couple of races, even if in terms of points, I have gone through a bad patch. I hope that will come to an end in Canada.

Montreal is a place I enjoy coming to. To tell the truth, the circuit is not one of my favourites, but the city itself is great and the people are very welcoming and keen on Formula 1, with plenty of support for Ferrari among the fans. My results have not been that good here, the best being a fourth place in 2005. I also had a very good race in 2008, when I was fighting for a place on the podium until a refuelling problem at my pit stop. I then had to pass a lot of people coming through from the back of the pack to finish fifth at the flag. At the very least, I would hope to aim for my best ever Canadian GP result this weekend and to finish on the podium would be great. The track presents all sorts of interesting challenges and it is not very easy to set up the car, because the track surface evolves all through the weekend, starting off with virtually no grip at all on Friday morning. You need a car that works well over the kerbs, has good traction out of the slow turns, but this is actually a fast track, so you need good top speed too. That makes finding the best set-up and the right level of aerodynamic downforce a complex task for the drivers and the engineers. We will run quite low downforce to suit this circuit and to generate more speed and with the help of some updates on the aero front I expect we can be quite competitive. Further complicating the work is the fact that we can expect tyre degradation to be very high, so even though we have the same tyre compounds as in Monaco, don’t expect to see people attempting a one stop race this weekend.

As far as the championships are concerned, at Ferrari, we will never give up fighting. However, it is very clear that Sebastian (Vettel) is doing a great job, winning every race except one and even that time he finished second! He and his team are looking very strong, but we are tackling the championship one race at a time and everyone is still working very hard to make the car competitive so that we can continue fighting all the way to the end of the season. This coming weekend will be a very busy one for Ferrari on a global scale, because apart from the Grand Prix in Montreal, various factory supported private teams will be tackling the Le Mans 24 Hours in France in Ferrari 458 Italia and 430 GT cars. It shows just how much racing is at the very heart of everything that goes on in Maranello. Endurance racing is completely different to the sprint that is a Formula 1 race, with drivers having to race in the dark and cope with very different challenges. It’s something that I might consider one day when my Formula 1 career comes to an end and I hope all the Ferraris racing there have a successful weekend.

 

A Brazilian break

June 1, 2011 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Given that the next race is in Canada, I’ve made the most of that to head home to Brazil, to spend a few days there with my family. The last few weeks were very busy, with three races crammed into the month of May and now a bit of a break is in order. Before flying off to Sao Paolo, I spent a day in Italy, in Parma, where I played alongside Fernando and Giancarlo in a three-way charity football tournament. Me and the other Ferrari guys were playing as part of the Telethon team, the association that raises funds for research into rare and genetic illness.

Those three races in May did not go well for me. I failed to pick up points and my biggest regret came in the last of the three, in Monaco. As Fernando showed, by fighting at the front right to the end, we had a very good potential there and I think I could have finished the race in fourth place. Unfortunately, there was the accident with Hamilton, which put me out of the running: a real shame, but there’s little point in going over it again. I said what I wanted to about the incident after the race and now it’s not worth wasting more time over it, so it’s better to look ahead.

For the spectators – and unfortunately I was one of them – the second part of the race was very exciting. It’s a shame that the red flag pretty much ended the three way battle at the front of the field ahead of schedule. The rules in this case allow tyres to be changed if the race is suspended and so the final laps lost their significance, because both Fernando and Sebastian were on reasonably fresh tyres and, in these circumstances, overtaking at Monaco is still practically impossible, even with KERS and DRS.

The weekend was marked by several accidents, the most serious being those that involved Rosberg and Perez. Nico was lucky, as he did not hit the wall at the chicane after the tunnel, but Sergio hit it hard: I am happy he is out of hospital and I hope we can see him back in action in Montreal already. It’s true that Monaco, by its very nature, will always have an element of risk attached and that particular barrier is probably the most critical point if you lose control of the car or if something breaks. We have often spoken about it in the past, because it has been the scene of several accidents and I hope a solution can be found to improve the position of the barrier at that particular point on the circuit.

There was at least one positive aspect to the weekend and that is the fact our car was much more competitive than we had seen it at the previous race. Finally, we could fight all the way to the end, even if circumstances meant that only applied to one of us. Our pace was very good and I hope that will also be the case in Canada and Valencia. We should have some new technical updates there, which along with the softer tyres, should be a help, on paper at least and then we will see what the actual situation is, starting on Friday in Montreal.

 

Not long to wait to be on track again

May 24, 2011 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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I got back home to Monaco on Monday morning, after a very disappointing weekend at the Spanish Grand Prix. We had hoped to do much better than this in performance terms and also I suffered our first technical failure of the season. We had expected our main rivals to be strong in Barcelona, given the fact our car is not quite as efficient as theirs in terms of aerodynamic downforce. However, what we had not expected was to suffer so much on the new Hard compound tyre that Pirelli had introduced for this race. We had already found life difficult on the original version of the Hard and we had seen that we struggled a bit more than the others on these. Then with these new hards we discovered we were having an even tougher time to get them to work properly and I would say we lost two or two and a half seconds when compared to our lap times on the Soft. You could see the effect clearly in the race. Myself and Fernando were both able to fight at first with him doing better than me as he was actually at the front thanks to his start, while I was fighting with the Mercedes guys, passing them to move up to sixth. But after that, once I fitted the hard tyres, it was almost impossible to drive the car. I ended up losing all the places I had gained, then I had a spin and eventually with a few laps to go, I had to park the car at the side of the track as I could not select any gears. Meanwhile Fernando went from leading the race to being one lap down within the space of about 40 laps which is an unbelievable situation. I would say that in Spain, it looked as though Red Bull and McLaren were the only teams able to exploit the hard tyres properly.

Staying on the subject of tyres, starting with free practice this Thursday at Monaco, we begin a run of three Grands Prix using Pirelli’s Soft and Super Soft and that should work better for us. They will definitely suit the characteristics of our car which is a positive factor. We have seen this year that the biggest factor when it comes to passing another car is the tyres and we will have overtaking this year, even in Monaco,  because of that. When a car in front of you is struggling with worn tyres, it will have very poor traction and even in places such as the exit to the chicane after the tunnel, if you don’t have traction, you will lose position before Tabac. I believe degradation will play a significant role on this track.

I enjoy the whole Monaco weekend and it is an important event on the calendar, but when I’m there I don’t walk to the track in the morning thinking about it being the most famous motor race in the world. It’s another race to concentrate on and it has a unique challenge because of the track itself. Nothing compares because even if Singapore comes close, that track is much bigger. So Monaco is just another race where you have to work hard and try to do your best. It’s nice to be home and I’m very lucky as I think I’m one of the few drivers to have two real home races, not just races that take place in the country you come from. Both here and Sao Paolo I actually get to sleep in my own bed in my own home and then have a short trip to the track. It’s another very nice aspect of this weekend, during which I hope we can make up for the disappointment of Spain.

At least we don’t have long to wait to be on track again!

 

Yet another step forward in performance terms

May 18, 2011 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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I have had a busy few days since the Turkish Grand Prix, so time has gone by quickly and now I’m heading off to Barcelona for the fifth race of the season, which I hope will show more signs of the progress we had clearly made in Turkey. After a couple of days at home in Monaco, I headed for Rome where I attended a function for our partner Shell, after which I stayed in Italy spending three days at Maranello.

I had the usual race preparation meetings with the engineers, although much of the time was in the simulator, with it set up to replicate the Catalunya circuit where we will be racing this weekend. To be honest, from a driver’s point of view, the simulator is most valuable when you are using it to learn a new circuit, like we did last year for Korea and will do again for India, this year’s new venue. The work I was involved in this week was more for the benefit of the car, the 150° Italia, as I was testing the new updates we plan to use starting from Friday.

A session in the simulator is very much like a normal test at a race track: we start running at 9 in the morning until around 1, when we have a break for lunch, which we take in the simulator area itself and then we start again running from around 2.30 to 5 in the afternoon. After that, just like at the racetrack, I have a debrief with my engineers. Usually with the simulator, you start doing a run just to get acclimatised to it and then you start doing runs that last five or six timed laps. You can immediately see the results of what you are doing so, based on that, you decide what changes to make to the car and go out again. In one day in the simulator, you can try many more things than you could do at the track, because in the “virtual” environment, it is much quicker changing things on the car than at the track. Also, you don’t waste time in the simulator with “in” laps and “out” laps: for example at the Catalunya track on the simulator, you start the lap coming out of Turn 11 and then you can immediately begin your timed lap. When you press the button to finish, it’s like being back in the garage again. You talk to the engineers and anything you want changing on the car they can do almost immediately, or they can configure the car to test new updates or experiment with set-ups. The simulator is therefore much more time saving than testing for real.

Physically, a simulator session is much less tiring than driving the real car, because the G forces are less, but you are still driving, moving and working hard, but the physical effort required is far less. The best thing about the simulator? When you crash, nothing happens, absolutely nothing! Okay, you can feel something through the steering wheel but then the platform just stops and it’s over. When you first start using a simulator, you can find yourself going off line and even crashing but there is no harm done to you or the car.

Back in the real world, we have new parts we plan to use on the car in Spain and we are expecting to make yet another step forward in performance terms. We know how tough a time we had in the early part of the season, but hard work has seen us reduce the gap to the quickest cars and we plan to continue that way, especially in qualifying trim. If we make the car better for Saturday, we should also end up with an even more competitive car in the race on Sunday. I hope we are on the right road, because we now have Spain and Monaco just a few days apart and after that, we will have already completed six Grands Prix, or almost one third of the season. So it is a very important time for us and I have every confidence in the team that we can have a good Spanish weekend. The Spanish Grand Prix will be another interesting test of the effect of the new rules, with KERS and the DRS, although overtaking might not be quite as straightforward as in Turkey, as the main straight in Barcelona is not as long as the one at the Istanbul track. Of course, we have seen that tyre performance is possibly an even bigger feature than the KERS and DRS and from a driver’s point of view, it makes the racing quite interesting psychologically, as you have to deal with having a car that is really competitive for some laps and then finding your lap times dropping off and you are struggling to fight off the cars behind you. Then you fit new tyres and the whole situation changes again. It’s interesting for us and more importantly, very exciting for the race fans. Obviously, my team-mate will be the focus of most of the attention for his home race in Spain and Fernando’s arrival at Ferrari has made the Scuderia very popular with the Spanish race fans, so I hope we can both deliver a good result for them on Sunday.

 

For the fans, it’s the race that counts

May 11, 2011 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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I’m back home in Monaco after the first race of the season where I failed to score any points and it’s fair to say, that given my previous track record in Istanbul, this was obviously a very disappointing result. I ended up eleventh, when I could have been challenging for fourth place and that was mainly down to poor pit stops. However, looking on the positive side, the aero updates we ran for the first time at this race definitely increased our performance level as can be seen from the fact that Fernando secured Ferrari’s first podium finish of the year.

Once again, qualifying was not that easy and then, as we have seen at every race this year, the car was much better in the race itself. I had an incident packed Sunday afternoon, but the first stint went very well for me and I was able to pass several cars, up to the point that I overtook Hamilton just before we pitted. This was where my race got complicated as my pit stop was not that great and we ended up side by side leaving pit lane, with him just having the edge in the end. After that, only the second of my total of four pit stops went well and Lewis went on to finish the race in fourth place, which shows what I could have been challenging for.

Even if we had a difficult qualifying and I did not even bother making a second attempt in Q3 to save tyres, the gap in terms of our qualifying to race performance did come down in Turkey, because we struggled less in qualifying and then made an even bigger step forward on Sunday, which is more proof that the car is improving. Why do we have that gap? It’s hard to pinpoint the exact reason, but let’s say it just seems to be a characteristic of the car, because even last year, we had a similar situation. I think qualifying is still important, but much less than before, like in the days when it was almost the most crucial part of the weekend, when overtaking another car during the race was so difficult. Even if qualifying is less important, there is nothing disappointing about that, because for the fans, it’s the race that counts as the most important part of the weekend, so the current situation is, in my opinion, good for the sport.

As for the pit stop difficulties, I would say I had a few too many, because without them I was definitely heading for a top five finish. This was frustrating for me and for the team. We do a lot of pit stop practice, but that Sunday it just did not work properly. We will have to study the problem and try and be more consistent, because in a single stop, just a small delay in changing wheels and you can lose position, as happened to me in Istanbul. The pressure on the pit crew is now very great, because not only are they having to be perfect several times during a race, but also since the banning of refuelling, they no longer have that time cushion changing wheels, while waiting for all the fuel to go in. We all have to improve ourselves, drivers included, because our role in the pit-stop operations is very important as well.

Today I am in Rome for a convention run by our technical partner Shell and then for the last two days of the week, I will be in Maranello, in meetings with the engineers and of course, spending time in the simulator; all part of our efforts to keep on pushing to improve our car, because with two more races coming up in the space of two weekends, we have to react as soon as possible to turn our season around. I mentioned the simulator just now and so I would like to wish a speedy recovery to Davide Rigon, a young driver who does a lot of work for us in the simulator and who unfortunately broke his leg in an accident in Sunday’s GP2 race in Istanbul.

 

As a racing driver, you always want more

May 4, 2011 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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The biggest event in my life since the Chinese Grand Prix is that I turned 30 around a week ago! I celebrated with my family here in Monaco and I have to admit, it did feel significant hitting thirty. Although, on the other hand, I don’t feel any different, I don’t feel older but it’s strange not be twenty something anymore. When I first appeared in Formula 1, I was twenty: it was ten years ago and I cannot complain about my career and my life since then, which has always delivered more than I expected. But as a racing driver, as a competitor, you can never be happy and you always want more and that is what motivates me. Looking at the current driver line-up in F1, I can take encouragement from the fact that, even if there are plenty of very young drivers in the sport, there are also guys like Michael (Schumacher) who show that it is possible to have a very long career and seeing him still competing makes me feel even younger!

After a long break from racing, I will be heading for Turkey very early on Thursday morning and I have to say that Istanbul is a very special place for me, as it was here in 2006 that I took my first ever F1 victory, which is something no driver can ever forget. I remember it as an incredible win from pole position and also I recall the fact I finished ahead of Michael and Fernando who were fighting for the championship that year, which all added to making it a great achievement. And after that, I made it a hat-trick, winning for the next two years, when I was definitely the fastest man on track. In fact, apart from the three wins from three poles, since I am in Ferrari I have always finished in the points at Istanbul Park, but I hope the Turkish wins won’t stop at three! It sounds strange, but looking back at my results in Istanbul and combining it with my recent significant birthday, it might even be a further motivation to get a good result this weekend. However, we must be realistic and I know we need a good improvement on the car, as we were not as strong as we expected in the first three races. But everyone in Maranello has been working very hard to produce some aero updates for this race, so hopefully we can be a bit stronger, even though these new elements cannot be considered to be a major upgrade. That is the story for this weekend, but we can expect more improvements to follow at the races immediately after this one.

If you look at our positions in qualifying at the last race, we did not have the performance to deliver a podium result, but during the race itself our pace was such that we were actually fighting for a top three finish. We cannot say now what the situation will be in Turkey, because if we have been working hard, then so have the other teams, but it is not impossible that we will find ourselves with a car capable of fighting for a podium. It is true that the tyre situation is the same for everyone, but it is equally true that this could again be the key factor in deciding what happens in the race. The famous Turn 8 will be very important, because you really put a very heavy load on the tyres at this corner so we need to think carefully about the car set-up to deal with it and control the degradation. One element that could make this a completely different situation is that, currently, the weather forecast predicts some rain on nearly every day of the race weekend, which means we and especially our strategists, have to be very concentrated and ready for anything. I can’t remember rain in Istanbul, so it could make life interesting.

Since China, I’ve kept in touch with my engineers to know what they are working on and I also spent two days at the factory and in the simulator last week, which was important for our development work. I enjoyed having a break from this with the unique opportunity of driving three Ferraris on the same day around Fiorano for a filming event: I had a Formula 1 car, the 458 road car and the 458 in its Challenge version. It was good fun, but the problem was that when you step out of the F1 car and into the road car – even a Ferrari – you have to be very careful about your braking points for the corners, because they are very different. But it all ended safely!

 

I hope I continue to fight at a higher level

April 19, 2011 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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A couple of days have passed since the Chinese Grand Prix and I am still in Shanghai attending various events in a city which I find I enjoy more every time I come here. I had a very good race on Sunday, running strongly and getting involved in a lot of fights. The result should have been a bit better than my eventual sixth place, but I was very happy with how it went and I hope I can continue to fight at a higher level for the coming races.

For sure, we need to qualify better so we can start further forward on the grid which helps in the race, even with the talk of grid position being less important this year. In China actually my grid position, sixth, was not too bad and then I gained one place immediately after the start which moved me up to fifth. Most importantly though, if you look at the pace of the car, it was good enough to allow us to fight with the leaders. That meant I had a very interesting race, being able to make up several places because effectively, the car we had in the race was completely different to the one we had the day before in qualifying. It definitely worked well, because I even led the race for a short while at one point and I held a genuine second place for quite some time. Unfortunately, those who were three stopping for tyre changes caught us up much faster than we had expected in the closing stages and, on tyres that were in much better shape than mine, they were able to get past.

It’s easy to say, having seen how the race evolved, that I should have been on a three stop rather than a two stop strategy, but in fact, I am not completely sure this would have been correct, because the main problem I had was much poorer performance than the other cars experienced on the hard Pirellis, which meant that, when these tyres were fitted, the car had a pace more similar to what we had seen in qualifying and we definitely had more problems than the others. Up until then, the car was quite competitive. People have pointed out that Webber drove a fantastic race, which involved three pit stops, but you have to accept that, because he failed to get further than Q1 on Saturday, he had plenty of new tyres: everyone would want to be in that position, but you must remember he has a very good car, the quickest of the year so far. Nevertheless, we are always learning at this stage of the season and we should analyse everything very carefully to see if we should adopt a different approach, maybe modify our qualifying strategy to have some fresher tyres for the race. But after three Grands Prix it is still too early to say what is the best way to work with all these new rules, because in China at the weekend, you saw many different combinations of strategies and tyre useage and many of them seemed to work well. Nothing is one hundred percent clear yet and at Ferrari, we have to work out what is best for our car. It is possible that we could see very different strategies in the next few races, depending on the characteristics of the circuits.

In Shanghai, it was good for the sport of Formula 1 that Lewis won the race, so we don’t have the same car winning every time. However, we must not forget that Sebastian still finished second which is a very good result, which still keeps him in a good position for the championship. We have three weeks now during which everyone at Ferrari has to push hard to try and arrive at the next race, or more specifically the next qualifying, in a stronger position, so we can continue to take the fight to these guys. After Shanghai, we must also consider Mercedes as being part of the fight for the top places. They definitely have a quicker car than us for qualifying, but it’s not yet a match for Red Bull. But it is also true that the Red Bulls suffer more than most in a performance drop off from qualifying to the race, so this could see Mercedes continuing to be very competitive now in the races.

I am now preparing to leave Shanghai for home in Monaco. On Monday, I attended an event for a personal sponsor, Richard Mille who manufacture watches and in the evening I was at a dinner for Ferrari owners. Then before flying home, on Tuesday morning I was at the Shanghai Motor Show, making an appearance on the Ferrari stand, doing some press interviews and unveiling the Ferrari FF, the recently launched four wheel drive car, seen for the first time now in China. I am looking forward to this slightly longer than usual break at home before heading for Istanbul and I will be following very carefully the work going on at Maranello during this period.

 

Everyone is pushing hard to improve the car

April 13, 2011 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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So far we have had two Grands Prix this season, producing the same winner and the same three teams on the podium, while Ferrari has not been part of that. If you are not winning, then of course you are not happy and you try and change the situation but the facts show that our situation is not as bad as some might say.

It’s true that in qualifying in both races so far, we were not quick enough and in Melbourne, even our race pace was not that impressive. However, in Malaysia our car had the performance on Sunday in the race. That is something we must keep up but in addition, even if this sounds like what we said last year, we need to push hard to improve our car’s performance over a single lap in qualifying. Over the winter, there was speculation that qualifying would be less important this year because of an expected increase in overtaking, but so far, we have seen that if you do not start at the front, life is more difficult for you, even if you have good pace.

Everyone in the team, back in the factory is pushing particularly hard to improve the car as soon as possible. But it’s hard to say how long a job that will be and of course I hope it will happen very quickly. In China we will have some updates and something new to be tested on Friday, whereas Turkey in a month’s time is when we can realistically expect to bring some significant updates for the car.

My race was spoilt by a problem at the first pit stop. The fact that we are definitely going to see more pit stops per race throughout the season means this is an area of teamwork, driver’s role included, that we have to be sure functions perfectly. Also, in Sepang, my problem occurred the first time I came in to change tyres which is the worst possible situation as it is in the early stages of a race that a delay can cost you the most track position and places, because all the cars are much closer to each other. If it happens late on in the race when positions have stabilised and maybe you have five seconds over the car behind, then you can get away with this sort of problem at a stop. It highlights the fact that this is a team sport and while the driver is a very important part of that, so too are the engineers and also the mechanics, this year even more so than before.

Another trend we are seeing is that there can be many changes of position in the closing stages of the race, as drivers perhaps try to get to the race finish without making a further stop for new tyres, despite suffering high degradation. That was clearly the case in Malaysia with a lot of overtaking in the final laps. That is why the strategy is even more important now, in order to get the tyre change sequence just right, so that you can avoid finding yourself fighting for position in the last few laps, while dealing with tyres that are no longer at their best. This is not just down to the engineers to chose the best moment, because now the driver really has to think about managing the tyre situation himself, to avoid destroying them too soon.

I arrive in Shanghai on Wednesday, having stayed on in Malaysia for a couple of days. I have finished twice on the podium in China, with a second and third place, but last year I was only ninth in that wet race. It’s a nice circuit to drive even if the weather can be unpredictable. In the past, even with the long straight, overtaking was quite difficult but the combination of the long straight and the moveable rear wing should make passing easier.

There is no panic at Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, because we know panic does not achieve anything. Everyone has to work together and push hard to solve these problems we currently have and move in the direction that will see us secure better results as soon as possible.

 

All my thoughts are with Gustavo

April 5, 2011 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Before getting on to what I’ve been doing in the lead up to the Malaysian Grand Prix, I wish to express my great sadness at the death of Gustavo Sondermann, killed as a result of a terrible accident which happened last Sunday at Interlagos, during a pick-up race, run as part of the Brazilian Stock Car championship. I knew him well and our fathers are friends: I feel great pain at his loss and definitely, all my thoughts are with him and his family at this difficult time. It would be nice if I could get a good result next Sunday in Malaysia which I could dedicate to him.

I have just arrived in Kuala Lumpur, having spent the days since the first Grand Prix, back home in Sao Paolo. I made the most of my time there, with family and friends, because after the Chinese Grand Prix, I will be based in Europe until the later stages of the championship. I have kept in touch on a regular basis with the engineers in Maranello, so I know I can expect some changes on the car when I get inside the cockpit again on Friday. No one at Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro was satisfied with our overall performance, nor the final result of the Australian Grand Prix and much work has gone into understanding why that race did not live up to our expectations and then to plan how to move forward this weekend.

Here in Malaysia for the second race, there will still be a lot of unanswered questions as we start practice, because if you compare Melbourne with Sepang, the difference is as clear as black and white. The Melbourne asphalt is not very abrasive, the temperature is cool, the track is more of a city track, even if it is a real race circuit and the corner types are very different. Sepang is very hot, it’s a proper race track, with a lot of high speed sections, fast corners and many changes of direction. Then from a physical point of view the difference is also obvious: driving Albert Park is very easy and you get out of the car at the end of the race feeling completely fresh, whereas in Malaysia you lose a lot of fluid and lose weight and generally it is much more demanding. For all these reasons, I expect to see a completely different performance from our team and from our car.

With the moveable rear wing, the situation will be interesting here, because for the moment, the plan is to be allowed to use DRS during the race on the straight in front of the pits, but at Sepang, the straight that runs back the other way is actually longer. It is also true that it would offer a higher chance of overtaking. So, we are waiting for the final decision from the FIA to see if we use DRS on the front straight, the back one or both. The right decision could make the race more interesting for drivers and the spectators too. Personally, I am not sure that allowing DRS on both straights is the best option, because I think it might actually make overtaking too easy. You have to get the right balance between helping the chances of overtaking and having almost too much passing. At Sepang, the two straights follow one another, so if you are quicker than the car ahead, you might not even try and pass on the first straight, preferring to get well prepared and as close as possible, before then having a simple overtaking move on the second straight.

Looking at the weather here, it seems inevitable that we will have the usual heavy showers at some point every afternoon, which will be interesting. So far, I have just had one day of testing on Pirelli rain tyres, at the Jerez test back in February, which is not enough to have a good understanding. We will have to be well prepared for any eventuality and it will be an interesting experiment seeing how the tyres work in both very hot and very wet conditions. This will therefore be a very important weekend for Pirelli after what was a relatively easy debut for them in Melbourne.

As a driver, there is not much you can do to deal with the hot conditions, but honestly, if you are fit enough there is not much else you need to do. I have tried various methods, such as soaking my overalls in cold water before the start. Whatever you do, this is going to be a tough race: it’s not just the hot conditions, because it is the humidity that makes it unpleasant. For example, we have raced in Bahrain in an ambient temperature of 40 degrees, but I did not even sweat in the car because there in the desert it is a very dry heat. In Malaysia the problem is the humidity which makes you suffer more, losing body fluids, which then affects your strength and your concentration. No matter how fit you are, you suffer more at this circuit than at others. At least the time I spent in Brazil was useful as it was very hot there too. Last year, we made a strategic mistake in the wet qualifying at Sepang and I started twenty first on the grid, eventually making it up to seventh at the end of Sunday’s race and we will be working hard to avoid a similar error: like I said, the key in Sepang is to be ready for anything.

 

Hot days in Sao Paulo

April 1, 2011 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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I arrived home in Sao Paolo on Monday and looking back at the weekend, after what seemed like a long time of preparation and testing, it felt good to have finally gone racing again in Melbourne, because while developing the car in testing is enjoyable work, the thing we drivers like best is fighting against other drivers on track. The Australian Grand Prix did not go the way myself and the team had expected, as we were not as competitive as we had thought we would be, based on the winter performance. If there is one lesson we take away with us after the opening round is that we have a lot of work to do. We urgently need to find out exactly what happened in Australia, understanding what we did and what the other teams did. We did not come away with as many points as we thought we could score in the first race, so we have to get back to where we want to be by the next race.

I was asked many times over last weekend what surprised me most, the pace of the Red Bulls or of the McLarens. The answer is that I was more surprised by Red Bull, because what Vettel did in qualifying was very impressive. It’s true that McLaren seemed to have made a step forward, but Red Bull was really far ahead of everyone else. As for ourselves, our car is better than it looked in Melbourne and it is hard to explain exactly why we failed to deliver, which is why we have to arrive in Malaysia with the car we actually built, not the car we raced last weekend.

We did not have to wait long to see the effect of the adjustable rear wing and KERS on the racing, with my fight in the early part with Jenson. You could see he could get much closer to me on the straight: even if he did not manage to get very close on the previous corner, by the end of the straight he was alongside me. Clearly the rear wing helped him, although in the end, he only got past me by cutting the corner. During the battle, I feel I did a very good job of defending my position by using KERS, knowing how to save the power until it was time to use it at exactly the right moment so he could not get past. But it’s definitely easier to be the attacker than the defender in this situation. I’m sure it was exciting for the spectators and it was a shame that after the incident I did not have the pace to keep fighting him. I expected him to give back the position after he got by, because the rules are clear you must do this if you cut a chicane and Jenson is experienced enough to know that, without having to wait for the team to tell him what to do. After he got by, Alonso also got past me, as I ended up being quite slow because of the fight with Jenson. And given that Fernando pitted before me, that left Jenson with another chance to give me back position but he did not. Later in the race, I passed Buemi, because I had better tyres than him and I could use the wing as well. To be honest it was not that easy, because even if the wing helped me get close I could not pull alongside, as we did not have the best top speed last weekend, but in the end, I braked much later than him because of the better tyres and got by that way.

Now I am spending just a few days in Brazil, for what is my last visit here for a few months and it is also useful to help prepare for the next race in Malaysia, as it is very hot at the moment in Sao Paolo. Then on Sunday, I fly to Kuala Lumpur when I hope that we can begin to prepare for a more competitive race weekend.

 

I’m ready to race

March 21, 2011 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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It’s time to go! When you will read my words, I will be flying from Sao Paolo to Melbourne. It is the longest flight of the year for me, but I can’t wait to get going: I’m ready to race and I think the whole team is well prepared after doing so many laps over all the days of winter testing, even more than we had planned in the end. The car appears to be reliable, but on its own this is not enough as the car needs to be quick too. For the moment, reliability has been good and I don’t think we can complain about performance, but we won’t have a clear picture until all the teams are together on track in Melbourne.

The start of a new season is always a thrilling time and this year we have plenty of novelties to get used to, even if KERS is something we understand well having already used it in 2009. Actually in terms of running the adjustable rear wing, we did thousands of laps using it, so we are fully aware of how to run it – you press a button, the wing moves and drag is reduced and I would estimate the car goes between 12 and 15 km/h quicker than before on the straight. In practice and in qualifying, you can use the wing as much as you want, even on the shortest straights. This is something we concentrated on a lot during the winter, so that it becomes an automatic reflex for the driver as you drive the car. That means we have a good understanding of how to use it to improve performance and lap times, but when it comes to using it in the race, when you cannot use it all the time and it is simply an aid to overtaking, then in this situation, we do not have a clear picture of how effective it will be. I am sure it can help, but we must wait and see what is the true situation in a race.

Before I drove the car for the first time in testing, I was really concerned about what it would be like having all these systems to control and buttons to press, with the wing, with KERS and so on. Then, after the first few days of testing it started to become automatic and, together with the engineers, we came up with some good methods to be able to operate these systems without affecting your concentration and your visibility of the track without taking your eyes off the road.

While KERS and the rear wing will have an impact on the races, the biggest change of all in terms of its influence on the character of the race weekend is perhaps also the simplest, which means the arrival of Pirelli as the tyre supplier. Getting to understand the new tyres has been one of the most interesting aspects of the winter tests and for my part, it’s true I don’t have any difficulty warming up the tyres which was a big problem for me last year. With the high degradation we are seeing, the races will be very different and we will need to pit several times, whereas last year many races needed just one stop. It will also be interesting to see how the tyres operate when we reach the warmer countries, although maybe not Australia, as it is not expected to be so hot in Melbourne next week. Also, the difference between the soft and hard compounds is far greater which might even change the way you approach with a view to what tyre you will then use to start the race the next day. Certainly the drivers will have more influence over when we make the pit stops in the race: of course there will be a plan regarding our strategy made before the event, but I expect the situations to change far more quickly during the races with a driver feeling when tyre degradation is starting and choosing to pit early to get ahead of the car in front, or in the case of a safety car period. It will be very different and maybe more exciting for the spectators.

I’m happy to be starting the season in Australia, although I am also disappointed not to be going to Bahrain from a racing point of view. I really liked going there, as the track seemed to suit me very well and also the team, because Ferrari has won so many races there. But, when you build an F1 car, you build it to be good at every track, so wherever the championship starts you have to go there thinking of the victory and I will be concentrating on doing my best in Melbourne, even if the Albert Park circuit has not been a very successful venue for me, or a lucky one, as I’ve had a few accidents there. Last year was better as I got my best ever result here finishing third on the podium. I hope this time we can have a great start to the season in Australia and I am optimistic about our chances, based on the reliability we have shown so far and I can’t wait for us to measure up against the other teams and see where we stand.

 

Taking points from Fernando's rivals

November 9, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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I have just arrived in Abu Dhabi, having left Sao Paolo on Monday night and, apart from the fact that I was racing in Brazil, in front of my home crowd, I can think of very little that was the good about the weekend in Interlagos. Qualifying did not go so well and then the problem with the wheel nut during my pit stop meant that my race was effectively over, as I had to come back in on the very next lap to change wheels again. If it had not been for that, I think I could have ended the race in the top five, which would have been a reasonable performance. From that point on, the race was very tough with so many cars in front of me. The situation with the traffic was particularly tricky and confusing. For example, at one point, Rosberg let me pass him and I did not understand why, but I think there was a bit of confusion with some drivers racing each other on the same lap being shown the blue flag by mistake. When the Safety Car came out, the situation got even more complicated. In my opinion, it was better when the rules allowed cars to un-lap themselves when they were behind the Safety Car, as it would have made the racing more interesting. This is especially true when you consider the situation in the championship, because there were at least a couple of backmarkers between Vettel and Webber at the restart and a lot more between Webber and Fernando, so it was not particularly good in terms of the show.

But now, let's look forward rather than back, as it is time for the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi. This will be a completely new track for me, as I was unable to race here last year, the first time this Grand Prix was on the calendar. I have driven it on the simulator and I have also used a computer game to practice it more at home in Brazil right up to yesterday so that I have as much information as possible, even if it is never the same as actually driving the track itself. Even though I was not racing in 2009, I did attend the Grand Prix and I thought the facility was fantastic. For Ferrari, this is a special event, as the team has strong links with the area through our sponsors Mubadala and Etihad and now there is also the Ferrari theme park, just outside the race track. As we will be staying in Abu Dhabi for a week after the race, when we have the Young Driver test and then the Pirelli test, I hope to get some time to spend at the park, which should be an enjoyable experience. Speaking of the Pirelli test, I am looking forward to it as it will be an interesting experience seeing what differences there are between them and Bridgestone, who have given us such good tyre service over so many years. It will be an important couple of days to get a good idea about tyre behaviour ahead of the winter break.

As for the Grand Prix itself, Ferrari is still in the fight for the Drivers' title and I really hope to be racing at the front, in the middle of the fight between the drivers still involved. If I can score some good points, taking them away from Fernando's rivals, it can be useful for him.

 

You can feel the excitement building

November 2, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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In a couple of days, it will be time for me to make the short trip from my home in Sao Paolo to the Interlagos circuit for the start of the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend. I can’t wait, because of all the races I had to sit out after my accident last year, this was the one I missed the most. I have been in Brazil since the Tuesday after Korea and it has been a busy time for me, part business and part pleasure, as I was at our home in the countryside last weekend along with all my family for my sister’s wedding. Now I am back in Sao Paolo for what is a long week of promotional and PR events, but I don’t mind as this is always part of the build up to your home grand prix. This afternoon I visited the Ferrari stand at the Sao Paulo Motors Show: it was nice to see a lot of enthusiasm for our cars on display. You can feel the excitement building as the weekend gets closer, even if we have had an even bigger event taking place with the election of Brazil’s first woman President earlier this week. Lula did a good job for Brazil over the last eight years and I hope this continues with our new President.

Even if this race is extra busy for me, I look forward to it as it is a fantastic feeling seeing all the home crowd making so much noise in the grandstands from Friday onwards, cheering me and the other Brazilian drivers. We have four Brazilian drivers on the grid this time, which will create even more interest with the crowd. For Lucas (di Grassi) and Bruno (Senna) it will be their first time racing F1 at home, but the fans here understand the sport well and know these guys are not in the most competitive cars so they should get to enjoy the weekend, because even if Bruno has a big name, the fans understand there is a limit to what he can do with the equipment he has and the same goes for Lucas. As a Brazilian driver, the crowd definitely gives you something extra and I have first hand experience of that, as my last three races here were very strong, so I hope that trend continues this time. I have won my home race twice and I would love to do it again, but it is very difficult to make predictions until we actually start practice. What we can say is that, in the past, even in years when our car was not so competitive during the season, we have gone well in Sao Paolo and I hope that will be the case this weekend. In general, in the last few races in Asia, our car has worked well which is encouraging, but it is also true that Red Bull won here last year and they are bound to be strong again. As the local boy, I can tell you there are no particular changes at the Interlagos circuit this year, which means it has it will have it’s own very special character as usual. I love the atmosphere here and I think in general it is a popular venue on the calendar: the race track itself is fantastic and usually provides good racing as you always see overtaking here. I hope it will be a nice weekend: in terms of the weather it is quite warm, in the mid-twenties, but there is no point looking too closely at the forecast, as it can change for better or worse very quickly here. All I will say is that when it rains in Interlagos, it rains a lot!

In terms of both championships, this is a very important race, but everyone at Ferrari will go about preparing for it just like any other grand prix, as you cannot change your approach. The important element will be reliability, so that we can get all our Friday work completed, before tackling the crucial qualifying, which will be very close, given how short the lap is here. As for the race, the first aim will be to make sure we finish and then we can see where we are at the flag.

 

A much better feeling

October 27, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Sitting here at home in Sao Paolo where I returned from Korea on Tuesday, I can look back at the last race with a much better feeling than in the previous two rounds of the championship. It was a great sensation to be back on the podium after a couple of poor results and the points for third place are important for us in the Constructors' championship and a help to my team-mate in the Drivers'.

Visiting a new track for the first time always means more work for everyone and that situation became even more complicated when the rain arrived for race day. The team worked well all weekend, especially in managing the situation in what were very difficult conditions on Sunday. Finishing first and third was an excellent result for the team. When the race started behind the Safety Car for the first time, the grip level was not the problem, because the tyres were clearing the water as it was not actually raining so hard: no, the big difficulty was a real lack of visibility. I could not see anything in front and it was extremely dangerous and I can imagine it was even worse for those drivers further back in the field. There was much more spray than we could have expected, it was huge! I think it might have been down to the track surface being so new that it took so long to clear away.

Ferrari's chances in both championships now look much better than before we tackled these last three Asian races. Even during the difficult time, we were able to improve the car, working in the right direction and the result is that the F10 got stronger race by race, even if I missed out on getting a good points score for the team until Korea. Looking at the championships, it is still possible for the team in the Constructors' and Fernando has moved into the lead in the Drivers', so we are in with a fighting chance. We still need to work hard to prepare for the final two rounds and clearly, we know we must try and improve our performance on Saturday afternoons. Qualifying is still our weak point, although you have to take into account how strong the Red Bulls are over one lap.

I think even without the rain, this new Korean track would have provided an interesting race, as it is very enjoyable to drive. It was a bit dirty, but not to an unacceptable level, given how late it was ready. I did not have much time to be a tourist on my first visit to Korea, apart from one day in the capital, Seoul. It looked interesting, somewhere between Japan and China in terms of the feel of the place. My main memory is that the people everywhere were very nice and helpful and gradually, as the town they are planning to build around the circuit area gets bigger I am sure this will become one of the nicest race venues.

I can now look forward to not having to fly anywhere for a while as the next race is in my home town. Last year it's true, Red Bull was very strong and won the race in Brazil, but in the years before then, Ferrari had been the strongest team, from 2006 to 2008, with our car going very well at Interlagos. I love racing here and can't wait to get out on track in front of my home fans.

 

To help Ferrari's aspirations

October 19, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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As you read this, I will have just landed in Incheon airport from Sao Paolo to begin what is a trip into the unknown for the world of Formula 1, namely the Gran Prix of Korea. I was at home in Brazil for about one week and I made good use of my time, getting as well prepared as possible for the final trio of races, which is going to be very important for me on a personal level to fight back after the disappointing outcome of the last two races in Japan and before that Singapore. However, more importantly, I will be trying to bring home a significant number of points to help the Scuderia in its fight for both championships.

I have experienced the new circuit on the simulator and first impressions are that is a very long track, which is why the race distance is just two more laps than at the last Grand Prix in Japan. It has a very long straight indeed and a mixture of high and low speed corners: we will therefore need to ensure that the F10 runs as efficiently as possible, delivering good top speed for that long straight, but also generating plenty of downforce. These characteristics mean that first impressions suggest it could be similar to the Shanghai circuit, although you also have sections - hard braking into slow corners - which are more similar to what we see in Bahrain. Will it suit the F10? Well, apart from when the Red Bulls have sometimes run away from the field, Ferrari has been competitive at most circuits and there is no reason to think differently this time. We have seen this year how important it is to get everything working well right from the start of Friday practice, running reliably to get through the engineering programme without any technical problems. That will also be the case this weekend, but in addition, the first few runs on Friday will be the first time we discover how accurate has been the simulation work we have done back at the factory. That will also be the time to discover the real grip level on offer from the track surface as this is something that is not so easy to do without actually putting a car on the track.

As for my aims this weekend, firstly we need to qualify well on Saturday and after that, in the race, I want to be in the middle of the battle for the Drivers' championship, fighting with those five drivers who are chasing the title, which is the best thing I can do to help Ferrari's and Fernando's aspirations as we head for the end of the championships. Korea will be the last of a trio of Far Eastern races and I would like to arrive back in Sao Paolo for my home race, with a good result in my pocket. I know that everyone in the team, at the track and the factory is completely pumped up for the challenge of these last three races and I am equally keen to give them my best shot.

As for Korea, I am looking forward to seeing it for the first time, because even though F1 does not give you much time for tourism, visiting new venues and experiencing new cultures is part of the fun. And as the sport's popularity around the world continues to grow, we seem to be visiting more and more new places. I hope there is a good crowd on the track and that Formula 1 puts on a great show for its debut there.

 

Sunday bloody Sunday

October 14, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Currently, I am back in Brazil, having left Japan on Monday after the race. I know it’s a long way to go home and that I have to return to the Far East quite soon, but jet lag has never bothered me much and it suited my plans to come here, spend time with the family and get on with my training.

I had really been looking forward to returning to Suzuka for the first time since 2006, as I had always enjoyed this circuit and had missed its return to the calendar last year, while I was recovering from my Budapest accident and therefore I was very keen to tackle this race. You can imagine how very disappointing it was come the end of Sunday, when everything that could go wrong did go wrong for me in Suzuka.

It was clear, right from the start that the Red Bulls were going to be practically unbeatable at this circuit, but even so being so many rows behind them was very frustrating for me. The story of qualifying was all about traffic: when I fitted the soft tyres in Q2 I had traffic in the first sector with Jenson coming out of the pits and then I got a lot more of it in the second sector at Spoon corner, where I found myself behind Kubica and all that cost me enough tenths to miss out on getting through to Q3. Of course, when you start from the sixth row of the grid, there is always a chance you are going to get mixed up in some trouble and that is exactly what happened, when I ended up crashing out of the race at the first corner. A very bad Sunday for me.

Even though I am going through a particularly difficult time right now with a lack of results in the last couple of races, I know I can count on the support of the team, who have always been behind me one hundred percent, especially in the difficult times. I was very pleased to read what our president Montezemolo said after the Japanese Grand Prix. Knowing he has faith in me is something I truly appreciate: he has an excellent understanding of the sport and he knows that you can sometimes go through tough times. The fact his support is always there is very important.

My desire to do as well as possible for me and for the team is the same as ever and that has been my approach to the sport ever since I started in Formula 1. You have to maintain a positive approach, especially as the team is locked into a very tough fight with two goals in mind, even if the situation in the Constructors’ championship has become very difficult. Everyone must put in 110% effort in order to succeed and that is definitely what I’ll be doing for the remaining weeks of the season.

 

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.

 

I can’t think of a better place to start again than at Spa

August 24, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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I am preparing to leave Sao Paolo to return to Europe for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, having spent all my free time since the Hungarian Grand Prix at home here in Brazil. Usually, when you go on holiday it involves some sort of journey, but with all the travelling involved in my job, for me the ideal holiday is being at home and not having to see an airport, sit on a plane or stay in a hotel. Therefore, staying at home with my family was the ideal break for me, catching up with everything going on here and meeting up with old friends. During the year, when I get the chance to stay in Brazil for a while, I admit that I miss my home country for a while after I leave, but knowing that I am returning to racing again is all the incentive I need to get on the plane back to Monaco.

It’s winter time now in Brazil, but to put that in perspective, the daytime temperature is still around 23 or 24 degrees, so nothing to complain about! Apart from keeping up my fitness training, I really managed to switch off for a while doing very little, although last weekend, I was at the Interlagos circuit that hosts the Brazilian Grand Prix later this year: my family organises a racing event so it was good to hear the sound of racing engines again. We run three different race categories here, in conjunction with FIAT. One is an open-wheeler category, similar to Formula 2, called Formula Future, which as the name suggests is aimed at finding young racing talent from the next generation. It is an important step for racing here, as for many years there was no “school” class with single-seater cars, which is why we wanted to do something for motor sport in Brazil. There is a category for Touring Cars also, using the FIAT Linea and finally there is a 600cc motorcycle class. It was the third round of the season and it was fun to be at a racetrack without all the pressure of racing myself.

Although it was a very quiet holiday, I am fully prepared for this weekend in Spa, as I kept in touch with the engineers, even though they were not working in the factory. We look in good shape, with some new parts coming as part of our constant development programme on the F10. The last time I raced here was in 2008 and it’s not just because I won the race that I love this track. I think all the drivers look forward to racing on this fabulous circuit. It is high speed, requiring less downforce than at many of the other tracks and fortunately, in the last few races, we showed that we have returned to being very competitive, even better than we had expected. But it is very hard to predict what could happen, as the small differences between the top teams means that performance has been very much track specific in terms of who had the slight advantage over the rest. As usual we need to wait and see how free practice goes before knowing what to expect.

There are only seven races left to go and I think that for the spectators and viewers at least, it should be a really exciting final part of the year, even if it might be a bit more tense for those of competing. But myself and Ferrari have been in this sort of situation before and we know how to deal with the pressure, by concentrating on the job in hand. Now we must build on the way we ended up just before the break, being competitive and putting ourselves back in the fight. I am definitely really motivated to get back in the cockpit because, even if I enjoyed the short holiday, I have to say I missed driving my race car and I can’t think of a better place to start again than at Spa. Even if it rains – and when didn’t we see water at Spa? – this is still a very enjoyable track to drive and actually it can be good fun in the wet. We just have to make sure we are ready to make the most of whatever the weekend throws at us.

 

“Ferrari, returning to the form we expect”

August 4, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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I am back home in Brazil now for the summer break, having flown out of Budapest on Sunday night. It is good to be home after what was one of the busiest months I can remember in my time in Formula 1 and thankfully, it ended with a couple of good results that suggest Ferrari is returning to the form that we expect.

I think the Hungarian race result was about the best we could have hoped for, for several reasons; the pace of the Red Bulls, the fact the track is well known for not providing any overtaking opportunities and finally the fact I had a bit of bad luck in losing a place to Lewis (Hamilton) at the pit stop, when the Safety Car came out. But the luck swung back my way later on, when Lewis had an issue with his car and had to retire, which put me back to what you could call the “normal” position of fourth, which is where I had started from on the grid.

At the time, we opted for a double pit stop, with me coming in after Fernando, so why did we do this, instead of do what the winner Mark Webber did and just keep going on the soft tyres for longer? What Webber did was right, but only because of the pace he had in his car which allowed him to build up enough of a lead to pit without losing first place. This was the only reason and it would not have worked for us. Our double pit stop worked perfectly, because when I arrived at the garage, Fernando had already left and I only lost the place to Lewis because that can sometimes happen in the pits. Even with the double pit stop, I had the chance to fight for my position. To be honest, it was the right strategic decision.

In Germany, we seemed to have the fastest car and just a few days later, Red Bull were in a different league to all the other teams. They have nearly always been fastest, apart maybe from Bahrain and then Hockenheim. It is mainly related to the nature of the track. In Germany we and they qualified in much the same time and then we were quicker in the race, but in Hungary they were 1.2 seconds faster, which suggests to me that in Hockenheim they underperformed. Budapest was an important weekend for me on a personal level. Going back there after what happened a year ago and meeting the people in the circuit medical centre, who did such a fantastic job of getting me out of the car, in the ambulance and then into the helicopter was a great feeling. On Thursday I had dinner with the surgeon who operated on me and did an excellent job and all of this was something really special in my life. On track, I never thought about it when I was going through that corner, although I appreciated seeing the banners that some of the fans had in the grandstands with messages like “Welcome Back Felipe.” That was a nice gesture.

Now we have a long break, which means three weekends without racing and even though the momentum has picked up for Ferrari in the last couple of weeks, I am happy to have this pause. It is important for us drivers to have a rest after such a busy schedule in recent weeks and it is especially important for everyone in the team, who have worked so hard. I will be spending it at home with my family here in Brazil, relaxing and spending time with my son, which actually is quite a full time job!

 

“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.

 

“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.

 

Proud of being part of Ferrari’s history

May 26, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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I’ve had a busy time travelling to and from Maranello since the last Grand Prix, last week to work on preparation for Istanbul on the simulator and yesterda, I went back to Italy to take part in a football match for the Telethon charity, of which Luca di Montezemolo is president. Playing with me on the Telethon team were Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella and there were lots of former professional football players, actors, singers and VIPs. Then today, I flew to Turkey for the next round of the world championship and it’s one I am really looking forward to.

Istanbul is a special track for me, as I have won three times in a row out of the five times we have raced there. I enjoy it a lot and I am looking forward to this weekend to try and do it again. Last year, when our car was not so competitive, I still managed to finish sixth, so I am hoping for something better this time, even if we have seen that the opposition is very strong at the moment. I can’t really explain why I have always been strong at Istanbul Park, but there is something about the track characteristics that seems to suit me in a similar way to Bahrain or Sao Paolo: I just click with these places and I feel very comfortable driving there. The most interesting part of the Turkish track is Turn 8, which is basically four left hand turns all taken as one, which puts quite a strain on your neck and upper body as it probably generates the highest lateral G-forces of any corner on the calendar. This year, in the early stages of the race, we will also have to tackle it with a much heavier car because of running on full tanks, which means it will be much slower than usual. But that is something we have experienced at all the races this year and while in qualifying Turn 8 is difficult but you are pretty much flat out, in the race you will have to back off the throttle. This season, in the early laps, we have seen that we can be 6 to 7 seconds slower per lap than in qualifying.

After running very competitively in Monaco on Bridgestone’s softer tyres, in Istanbul we will be back to their Medium and Hard compounds: the engineers have been pushing very hard to get to the F10 to make these tyres work better for us than they did in Barcelona for example, so I expect we will have made some progress. Also, the asphalt in Istanbul is the most abrasive we will have encountered so far this season, resulting in higher tyre degradation and that fact, combined with the higher temperatures we can expect this weekend, should see us work the tyres better.

All rounds of the championship are equally important in terms of the points on offer, but this weekend’s race has a special significance for everyone in the team and back at the factory. It will be the eight hundredth Formula 1 World Championship event in which the Scuderia has taken part, dating back to the first race of 1950 in Monaco. For me, it will be the sixty ninth time I put on the red fire suit and step into the cockpit of a Prancing Horse car and it is fantastic to be part of that history, part of the most famous racing team in the world. This is my job, but I never forget how special it is to drive for Ferrari. Although it will be nice to celebrate this milestone with the team this weekend, in Formula 1 it is the present and the future that matter, so the best way to celebrate the 800 would be to have a perfect weekend, ending with a great result on Sunday afternoon.

 

It will be different in Monaco

May 11, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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“As I sit here at my home in Monaco, on Tuesday afternoon, I can see the rain falling on the window, so it promises to be a complicated and exciting weekend for my second home race after Brazil, the Monaco Grand Prix. I have been back in Monaco since Monday as luckily my flight plan was unaffected by the ash cloud problem that appears to be following F1 around the globe! Whatever happens, I hope it will be a better weekend than the one in Barcelona, which was a bit like my Chinese Grand Prix experience, in that I struggled from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon to find any grip from the tyres. On the positive side, all the hard work carried out after China improved the car quite a bit, compared to its previous performance level, but it was not enough if you look how strong Red Bull was in Spain, and other teams also found some more speed. Now, we need to make a bigger step forward as soon as possible, so that we can be in a position to fight the teams that are currently ahead of us in terms of their car package.

“This weekend, even if there will be no major changes on the F10, I expect we can be more competitive, mainly because Bridgestone is bringing the Super Soft and Medium tyres here and I much prefer using this combination. We had the same tyre choices in Bahrain, where I was much happier than at the other races, in terms of the grip levels I found from the tyres. I hope therefore that I will be able to exploit more of my car’s potential. In general, the grip situation is something we have to look at, as well as finding an overall improvement to the level of aero downforce we have. So let’s see if the engineers can find something between the last race and this one, where we will not be using the new “blown” rear wing, because on this slow circuit, you need the downforce more than top speed.

“Getting the car to work as well as possible on Saturday afternoon will be even more important than usual, because if traffic has always been a problem at this race, with four more cars out on track at the same time this year, and without wishing to be too critical, I would say six rather slow cars out on track, Q1 can become a lottery. No doubt we will use a different strategic approach to qualifying, maybe fuelling the car to do a few more laps than usual, to have a safety margin, so that you are not left without a competitive time in Q1. In fact, Sunday’s race will also see traffic play its part, because even if strategic choices are different this year with no refuelling, trying to avoid coming out of the pits and finding yourself in slow traffic, could make or break your race. In the end, even if the race engineers will be monitoring the situation closely in the race, you need an element of luck to get it completely right.

“On Wednesday, we start all the work we do on a Thursday at a normal race and from then on, I will travel to and from the paddock and my home by scooter which only takes a few minutes. It is one of the big advantages of this race for me in that I can sleep in my own bed instead of a hotel room and not have to think about packing a suitcase. Before that, this afternoon (Tuesday) I am playing in a charity football match – our team of drivers, the Nazionale Piloti against a team put together by Prince Albert of Monaco. I play as a forward, because you are nearer the goal like that, which means it’s a bit like starting a race from the front row of the grid! The opposition probably includes some professional players which can make life difficult for us. As for my real job, I hope I find a much more consistent car this weekend, the car l like driving, the car I had at the beginning of the season. That’s all I ask for, so that I can do a good job.”

 

Interesting to see how our car has improved

May 5, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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On the weekend after I got back from China, I celebrated my twenty ninth birthday here in Monaco. I’m a family man now, so no wild parties, just a very enjoyable evening that my wife organised in a restaurant here with my son of course, and some friends. I’ve had some time to relax with this slightly longer break and I also spent a day in the Ferrari simulator at Maranello at the start of the week. The next race is in Barcelona, a track that all F1 drivers know very well, so the main point of the simulator session was to get a feel for the F10, which will have various updates for this next round of the championship.

The most obvious change to the car, apart from the mirrors being moved to comply with the regulation change regarding these parts, was the fact we will be trying a new rear wing, known as a “blown” wing, which involves the ability to affect its use from the cockpit. It was tried out for real, at Vairano, with Giancarlo Fisichella driving, so from my point of view it was interesting to see how and where we will be able to use it at the Catalunya track. Apart from this, we have some other improvements to the car, mainly on the aerodynamic side and this is all part of our programme to keep improving the car race by race. Of course, the other teams will have done the same, so it will be interesting to see who has done the best job and to find out if it changes anything in terms of which are the most competitive teams. Clearly, everyone will have been working very hard because, in a championship as tight as this one is proving to be, then if you can do a better job in the factory, it can give you an advantage on the track.

Barcelona will be the first and the only track we visit where we have tested the F10 already this year. We had a few days there, at what was the last winter test, which will be useful in that we will have some sort of baseline to start our work on Friday in free practice. But you have to consider that the cars have evolved since those days back in February and also, it is likely the track conditions will be different, as it will most probably be a bit warmer and there is also the fact that wind can play a key role at this track. All the same, it should be interesting to see how much our car and the other teams’ cars have improved since then.

We have said already this season that one key area where we need to improve is in qualifying and I hope the updates we are bringing to this race will help in that respect, because in simple terms if you improve the car’s performance, then qualifying should go better. Also, apart from performance, anything you do to the car to make it easier to drive can also be a help when you are trying to get the very most out of it on just one quick lap. We will have to wait and see, because at both of the next two races, Spain and Monaco, overtaking is very difficult, so qualifying can really shape your Sunday afternoon performance.

After four races on the other side of the world, I am looking forward to spending less time in airplanes, although having said that, my trip to Barcelona is not so straightforward, because on Wednesday I am flying to Prague in the Czech Republic for the opening ceremony of the new Ferrari showroom and then going from there to Spain. At least there will be no travelling involved for me for the next round in Monaco!
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Travelling to Shanghai

April 13, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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After a few enjoyable days settling back into home life in Monaco with my family, I am about to get on a plane to Shanghai for the fourth round of the championship. Personally, I’m feeling in really good shape, having spent much of the time since Malaysia training. There is a communal gym in the apartment block where I live and it is never busy, so I can get on with whatever I want to do in peace and quiet! Anyway, the weather is already nice and warm in Monaco, so I can also hit the streets and go running or cycling.

And speaking of the weather, as usual, we can expect cool and changeable conditions for the race weekend, as has been a feature of this event in the past. So, we need to be prepared to deal with the possibility of strange weather. I’m also looking forward to the fact that we will have some new components on the car, aimed at improving performance and I hope they prove to be successful to help us in our fight, especially with the Red Bulls and the McLarens. This is the second year we have had to deal with a ban on in-season testing, so the arrival of new components means that the Friday of a race weekend is used, not only for the usual work of comparing the two types of tyre and working on track-specific set-up, but also as a test session for these new elements. Usually we will do a back-to-back comparison, with the new parts on one car and the older version on the other, or we might also swap the parts from one car to the other. After that, during the debrief, we compare all the telemetric data and also mine and Fernando’s opinions on how the new components worked, before making a decision about whether or not to use them for qualifying and the race.

My record in Shanghai is not too bad, as I’ve stood on the podium twice: I came second in 2008 and third in 2007. It’s a nice circuit to drive and the extremely long straight leading into a tight corner means there is a real possibility to overtake. However, we will need to be careful on that straight this year, because we have seen that the McLaren in particular has a very high top speed, so in case of a close battle with them we will have to be careful and ready to defend position. There are some other interesting corners, such as the exit of Turn 1 going into Turn 2, when the rear of the car can get out of shape and generally there are plenty of high speed corners and some quick changes of direction, so I hope our car will be competitive here this weekend and allow us to bring home a significant number of points.

 

Think positive!

April 7, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Even after a difficult weekend like the one just gone in Malaysia, I always try to look on the positive side and although Friday and Saturday free practice showed that the F10 was not the quickest car on the track, in the race, when I was able to run alone and in clean air, the pace was reasonable compared to the Red Bull, which was the winning car. Also, when compared to the McLarens, the verdict was quite good. In the early stages, Lewis, who along with Jenson, also joined us down the back part of the grid, was able to pass a lot of cars thanks to having excellent top speed which we were not able to match. However, after a while, I was able to close the gap on him quite easily in the later stages. So, I have to say that our race pace is good, but we still need to improve our performance over the single lap in qualifying. That is clear from the fact that Red Bull has been on pole position for all three races so far. If we improve this aspect of our package, we will therefore improve even our race performance and that is what we will be trying to do in the coming races.

There is no point avoiding the subject: our race was pretty much over by the end of the first part of qualifying on Saturday afternoon. In simple language, we made a big mistake, me and the team together. It was wrong to trust too much in the weather forecast, thinking it was going to get dryer, especially as it was already raining prior to the start of the session. We ended up on track at the wrong time and failed to get out of Q1 and it is no consolation that we were not the only team to make that mistake. It was a stupid strategic mistake really and we must learn from what happened and try not to do it again, because in such a closely contested championship, these are the sort of incidents that could win or lose the title come the end of the year.

When you line up on the grid and see around twenty cars in front of you, you know you are going to have a tough afternoon. But with the McLaren guys also having made a mess of qualifying, it meant there were four quick cars together pretty much at the back of the field. I am sure we managed to keep the crowd entertained between us, because when you start from the back and are fighting all the way with a duel almost every lap, the race went by very quickly and you can almost not believe it when you see the chequered flag and realise the race is over. When you start from the front of the grid, the race gives the impression of being much longer in your mind. Although I enjoyed the fighting on track in Sepang, I would definitely have preferred it if the race had seemed to be a long one!

Still wanting to stay positive, I must say whenever you look at the championship classification and see your name at the top of the page, which is the situation I found myself in after Sepang, it is a nice feeling. But it doesn’t count for much after just three races. We must keep pushing for the rest of the year, because seeing your name at the top of the page becomes much more important later on than it is now. All the same, it’s a good situation to be in.

I heard people in Malaysia on Sunday saying that Red Bull was now by far the quickest car and it is true they were in the first two rows of the grid. But over a race distance, I believe the story is a bit different and you have to remember that in Sepang, they were racing pretty much on their own as the two teams who would have pushed them hardest, started from so far back. You need to keep that in mind when assessing the race. They are definitely not unstoppable, but we need to improve a bit to be in a better position to stop them. Now I am back in Monaco with the family and, apart from the next trip to China, this will be my base now for most of the European summer. For my son, this was his first really long flight from Brazil and it took him some time to get used to the time difference, not that I can explain the idea of jet lag to him just yet!

 

After two good races we have to continue in this direction

March 31, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Another great result for us in Melbourne and overall, a fantastic start to the season, with the team leading both championships. I had quite a tough weekend in Albert Park, so to start fifth and finish third, to get my second podium finish in a row meant I was really happy on Sunday night. Why the tough time? Because as soon as conditions got cooler, which meant from Friday afternoon practice onwards, I struggled to get my tyres up to the best operating temperature. Fernando didn’t seem to have that difficulty, which means it is probably down to a difference in our driving styles - maybe I’m a bit less aggressive - and the way we like to set up our cars. You have to also consider that the tyres were very hard, which is why we did almost the entire race, around fifty laps apart from a few early laps in the wet, on the softer of the two types. The fact we still managed to bring home a good total of points will be very important for this championship when we get to the later stages.

The race itself was very enjoyable and good fun and I’m sure the people in the grandstands and at home liked having so much action to watch. I seemed to spend a lot of time being passed by or passing Webber! He overtook me when I made a mistake and he was able to get a tow from my slipstream, also helped by the fact that, in those first twenty laps on slicks, my grip level was quite low. But as my tyres degraded, I found more front grip and could keep him behind him.

I stayed in Melbourne until Monday evening, going out with some friends on Sunday night and Tuesday I have arrived in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia at this time of year is very hot and sticky, making the race itself very tough in terms of your physical condition. I make a point of training outdoors rather than in the gym, running and doing other exercises, so that I get used to working in the hot conditions. And you make sure you go easy on the air conditioning, as the offices at the track can be so cold, it can cause problems.

In 2009 this race started at five in the afternoon, the same as Australia and I’m glad the organisers have brought forward the start by one hour. Last year, it was a shame for us that because of the tropical storm, the race could not be restarted, because the visibility was no longer good enough by the time the track conditions would have been safe enough for a re-start. Let’s hope we don’t have that problem this time, as it is also unfair on the spectators if they don’t get to see a real race. In fact, I think we need to look again at the start time in Melbourne for the future, as visibility was beginning to be a bit of an issue towards the end of the race.

The Sepang track is very different to Albert Park and it will be interesting to see if the Red Bulls are still very competitive on this circuit also. Hopefully, we can push them harder and pick up our pace a little bit. We must wait until practice starts to get a clearer picture. We have had two good first races and now we must keep working in this direction and bring home as many points as possible, whatever the situation in Sepang.

 

Travelling three continents

March 24, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Wow, that was a long journey! The trip from Brazil to Melbourne is the longest one of the year and you really feel you have crossed the world by the time you get to passport control in Melbourne Airport. I arrived in Australia at around one in the morning Tuesday, having left Brazil on Sunday. At the moment, I feel pretty much okay after flying for thirteen hours from Sao Paolo to Dubai and then another ten hour flight to here. It’s not just tiring because it is a long journey, but also because of the jet lag and the time difference can affect you if you do not know how to deal with it. The important thing is to always consider what the time is at your destination, so when I got on the first plane, I slept for about ten hours out of the thirteen. Then in the second plane, I tried not to sleep at all to be awake during Australian daytime. Once I got to my hotel here in Melbourne, I then slept again from four to ten in the morning.

I felt pretty good and after waking up, I went to the gym and worked up a good sweat doing some running because physical exercise really helps get over the jet lag. Then, in the afternoon, I went for a walk in the city, which I love to do, because there is a lot to see here and also because being out in the sunshine is reckoned to be another good cure for dealing with tiredness because of the different time zone. In fact, I will do some sort of training every day now before we start driving at the track on Friday.

I enjoyed being home in Brazil since the Bahrain Grand Prix and made the most of it to catch up with friends and spend time with the family. After Malaysia, we will move back to Monaco for most of the season, so it was important to have this time in Sao Paolo. Almost every day, I was keeping in touch with my engineers back at the factory in Maranello and I know that the team has been working hard since Bahrain on two fronts: firstly on sorting out the difficulty we had with engine cooling and secondly with our plan for race by race improvement to the whole car package. All the news from Italy seemed positive, so maybe we will have something good to talk about this weekend, which would make a change from Australia as neither myself nor the Scuderia has enjoyed a particularly successful race weekend here over the past couple of years. If we had some technical issues in Bahrain, the way the team operated at the track for the first race worked well, so we will continue in the same direction this weekend. We need to see what happens with the weather as I have heard there is a chance of rain on Sunday. We also need to get an early understanding of how the different types of tyre work here and that’s something we will know more about by the end of Friday practice. Even though I haven’t had much luck here, I enjoy driving this track. The race can often be full of incidents and we will need to plan for all eventualities, as we have seen the Safety Car appear here quite often.

I’m looking forward to getting to the Albert Park circuit, as there is always a real buzz about the place, especially if you are a Ferrari driver, because we get so much support from the Australian fans, including the large Italian community here in Melbourne.

 

We started the best possible way

March 18, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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It would be impossible to have a better start to a season than to take maximum points from the race and that’s exactly what Fernando and I managed in Bahrain. I had waited so many months for this first race, but I was excited rather than nervous about sitting on an F1 start grid for the first time since last year’s German GP. I never had any doubt about my condition, because everything I did felt exactly the same as it did before my accident. When I was fitness training, it was all going in the right direction and all the activities I did in normal life were as before. All I had in mind was to do a good job for everyone, to get a good start for the season, not to do anything silly. It’s always important to go well on the first race weekend, but in my case it was even more important, because if I had made a mistake, some people would have immediately said, “you see, he is not the same as before.” That would not have been nice because even if I had made a mistake, it was not going to be connected to my accident at all. Anyway, as it turned out, the first race weekend went very well for me and for the team: that was down to the fact we have a good car and the team did a perfect job over the weekend in Bahrain.

The only problem I had was the engine running hot during Sunday’s race. We had to manage the situation as best we could, which meant I had to run a richer fuel mixture for around thirty laps, which therefore increased consumption. As a consequence, I had to try and save fuel, changing my driving style in some areas. Now the team is working flat out to make sure this problem does not reoccur in other situations.

The Bahrain weekend confirmed what we knew from February testing, namely that there are four teams at the front, Red Bull, us, McLaren and Mercedes. We were pretty happy with our car and we did a good job in qualifying, even if Red Bull took pole, going slightly quicker. In the race, the Red Bull maybe had a slight edge on the softer tyre and we had the advantage on the harder one. In testing, the Red Bull might not have been the quickest car in terms of lap times in winter testing, but I had noticed their pace over the longer runs had been very strong, so its speed in Bahrain qualifying was not a surprise. Overall, we were very similar and that reinforces the need to try and improve our car at every race through the season. It is a very close competition between us so this development work will be more important than ever.

The race weekend threw up some interesting lessons and I would say we learned a lot about the tyres for example. There turned out to be a big difference between the two types we ran in Bahrain qualifying and also in the race, the hard was much better than the soft for us. We need to bring this knowledge to the next race, because we must work to understand the different levels of tyre degradation from one track to another. It is a factor that can affect race strategy in terms of choosing the right time to stop, or what tyre to use for which part of qualifying.

I have seen in the media some criticism that maybe the tyre rules and lack of refuelling made the Grand Prix boring to watch for the spectators, but I think it is too early to comment after just one race. However, it is true that the situation at the start of the race is that we are six to seven seconds slower than in qualifying. Running on very low fuel to get a good grid position, you have a massive amount of grip, but then, on Sunday, you have a very heavy car with absolutely no grip in the early laps. Added to this, if you are following someone closely, trying to overtake, you lose more aerodynamic downforce, so these two factors combined mean it is even harder to overtake.

On Sunday night, I flew home to Brazil to see my wife and son, because now that we are a family, it is harder for my wife to come with me to the races. It will be easier to have more time together after the Malaysian Grand Prix, as we will move back to Monaco for most of the season after then. I leave for Melbourne on Sunday, which is a very long flight, so arriving early on Tuesday means I have plenty of time to adapt to the different time zone and prepare for what I hope will be another successful race weekend.

 

"At last, we're off!"

March 8, 2010 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Maranello - “It’s been a very long time since my last blog, for reasons you all know. I remember very well that I haven’t taken part in a Formula 1 race weekend since last 25 July and now I am just looking forward to getting back into it again. I am clear in my mind about the direction we must take at the start of the season after so many days of winter testing and from a personal view it is just great to be racing again.

“I agree with Stefano (Domenicali, Team Principal) when he says that after testing, we can claim to be front runners, but we must keep our feet on the ground, because we are facing a very long and tough championship. The competitors are also very strong, including those who were fighting for the title last year, like Mercedes, who won under a different name, then Red Bull and McLaren, but there are other teams such as Williams and Sauber, which has risen from what used to be BMW. There are even teams like Force India who grew in performance last year and we can expect these to be competitive as well. I think it will be a very tight and competitive and our job will be to steadily improve the car race by race.

“I have a new team-mate this year and although the one car test rule meant we never drove on the same day, we have got to know one another well over the winter. We worked together on the debriefs and in most cases, Fernando and I seem to have similar opinions about the way to move forward. I think things are going well between us; he is a nice guy and a great driver and I am sure we will work together very well. Once again, my team-mate is a world champion, a double world champion actually! I am fine with that and I regard it as a positive element for the team. As a driver, you don’t think about beating your team-mate, you are looking to beat all the drivers on the grid and in the championship. I think it is much better to have two good drivers in the same team as it means the team can improve more quickly, with a better direction in terms of its development. For the past few years of my career, I have always had very strong team-mates and so nothing has changed for this year.

“It will be interesting to see how the new rules, specifically the lack of refuelling, will affect the races. At the last Barcelona test, I was able to complete a full race simulation, which went well, as there were no red flags to interrupt it. The car felt strong, it was quick and consistent and the tyres worked well whatever the fuel load; heavy at the start and getting progressively lighter. It was hard to make an accurate comparison to other teams’ race simulations, as we had a choice of three different Bridgestone tyres at the test, rather than the two we will have at the races. But in general, the signs were encouraging. The most important factor was that the car ran reliably, which is particularly important in the early stages of the season. The car was also quick with low fuel, in qualifying trim. Running on full tanks is an interesting challenge: as a racing driver, you always want your car to be as quick as possible, which means a car with a low fuel load, which gives you more grip and the difference between full tanks and the minimum fuel can be as much as six second per lap, depending on the circuit. The difference is huge, like having two different cars, but an efficient car should be good in both configurations. Fuel consumption will therefore be another key factor this year. If your car is less fuel efficient and needs to carry fifteen kilos more fuel than another car, that equates to three or four tenths of a second per lap. With this in mind, we worked very hard with Shell, since the middle of last year, to improve the fuel consumption of our engine, without affecting power and reliability. Fuel strategy will also be important, because you really don’t want to finish a race and find there is still ten litres in the car, because that means you have been carrying extra tenths for every lap. It will be very interesting to see how this situation develops.

“As a driver, I don’t really mind which race is the first on the calendar, but I have to say, it will be good to kick off the season in Bahrain, as it is special to me, because I have won twice round the Sakhir circuit. However, this year, the track layout has been changed significantly, making it a much longer lap, so that will be a new challenge for all of us. The most important thing at the opening race, at whatever track, is to start in the right direction, scoring points and getting a good result.

“Not only will this be my first race in a long time, it will also be my first race since I became a father. I know that our founder, Enzo Ferrari is reported to have said that, once a driver has children he gets slower. I have to disagree with him! Just ask Michael (Schumacher.) I think you will find he won more races and titles with two children at home, than when he did not have kids. I am really enjoying being a father, as it is an incredible feeling and in fact is even more of a motivation in my life and makes me work even harder at my job. It is a positive aspect which I hope will bring me some extra luck in my career.

“Before leaving for Bahrain, I got the opportunity to take part in an event organised by our new sponsor, the Santander Bank, at the Interlagos circuit, which involved me driving the F2008, the car with which I won the Brazilian Grand Prix two years ago. Now I can't wait to get behind the wheel of the F10 at Sakhir next Friday. ”

 

"carrying on in the same direction as in Germany"

July 17, 2009 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Maranello - Four days after the German Grand Prix is obviously much too long to go for a racing driver without being on a race track! So after going home to Monaco on Sunday night I travelled to a place called Lonato, near Lake Garda in Italy to have some fun karting. It was like a Formula 1 race here, there was Michael (Schumacher), Kubica, Glock, Liuzzi and Nelsinho (Piquet) and Klien. It wasn’t a special event, it wasn’t even a race, we just decided to come here and have some fun driving 125 karts with gears. I think we all miss the F1 testing and this is a good way to keep fit and busy. Thursday afternoon, I travelled to Maranello as I attended an event there which involves driving some of our customers around the Fiorano race track.

Going back a few days to the German Grand Prix, being on the podium was a good feeling but also a strange feeling at the same time and it was definitely something I’d been missing. In a difficult season this was nice because it’s a sign of the improvement going on within our team. In the past few races we’ve been scoring points again, always in the top five so to do even better and finish on the podium was good, not just for me but also in terms of motivating everyone in the team and at the factory. It proves we are still fighting but it is important for us to keep working.

At Ferrari we are often asked why we have continued to use KERS and if you watched the helicopter shot of the start of the race you would have seen that me and Kimi and the two McLarens were in a class of our own, making up a lot of ground off the line. The point is that if we are lacking the downforce levels of the guys who are winning, at least KERS gives us an advantage in another way. I had a good weekend in Germany and there were some surprising performances, some good some bad from other teams and I think this is because, apart from the two top teams, everything is so close that if you have the slightest problem or one lap that isn’t as good as it should be you can slide down the time sheet from fifth to fifteenth.

After my day in Maranello, I’ll be heading home to Monaco and I will stay there until Wednesday when it will be time to go to Budapest for the Hungarian Grand Prix. I haven’t got very good results at this race but that doesn’t mean I don’t race well there: if you remember last year I had the win in my pocket, but then my engine unfortunately let me down with just two laps to go. It’s a nice circuit to drive even if it’s not really one of my favourites, but ask me how we will get on in this race and to be honest I really don’t know. I hope we can carry on making improvements to our package, carrying on in the same direction as in Germany.

 

"I have been taking part in the presentation of a new car"

July 8, 2009 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Maranello - “I arrived back in Europe earlier this week, having spent the longer than usual break since the last race, at home in Sao Paulo. It was an enjoyable time, but rather quiet, as I just wanted to enjoy spending some time with my wife, who is pregnant, expecting our first child in November. Perfect timing from us for the baby to arrive conveniently after the end of the Formula 1 season! Everything is going well and it is a nice feeling knowing I am soon going to be a “papà.” Apart from that, I took part in a karting race with some friends. It was nothing serious, just some fun, driving a small 125 cc kart. Well, with an extra week in between the Grands Prix I had to get some racing done!

“I’m in Maranello at the factory at the moment, then this afternoon (Wednesday) I am travelling to Germany because I am playing a football match for the Nazionale Piloti team, with some other F1 drivers and some guy called Michael Schumacher. The game takes place in Wiesbaden, so I hope a good crowd turns out, as we are playing for charity as usual. I play up front as a striker and if you ask me if I am any good, I would say that, for a racing driver, I’m quite a good football player, but there is no new career waiting!

“Here in Maranello, I have been taking part in the presentation of a new car, the Ferrari 599 XX, which is used in a similar programme as the FXX one, where owners can actually contribute to the technical development of this “laboratory car,” running it with full factory support at various race tracks. I did quite a few laps with it on the Fiorano track and, as my brother and father are here with me, I was able to give them some exciting moments in the passenger seat. It’s a great car and fun to drive.

“On Thursday I will arrive at the Nurburgring and I’m looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the F60 again. The layout of this track should suit it better than the fast corners of Silverstone. A lot will depend on how we get the tyres to work and even if we have some new components that Kimi and I will be trying on Friday, it is impossible to say at this stage what we can expect from the weekend. The first half of the season was very hard to predict and I don’t see why it should be any different as we go into the second half.”

 

 

 

"Silverstone, the best race of the season"

June 23, 2009 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Maranello - “For sure, the British Grand Prix was the best race of the season for me, after what looked like a less than perfect scenario starting from down in eleventh place. But then, we had a great strategy and I was able to run at a strong pace to finish fourth. It had not looked so promising during free practice and qualifying: at the moment, you have two teams, Brawn and Red Bull who are ahead of the rest, or maybe now Red Bull is out in front and behind these two we have three teams fighting each other while being very closely matched. So, if for any reason your car is maybe one or two tenths slower than the others in that group, then you will already be behind those and that puts you a long way down the order. That was the story of qualifying and then in the race, we found those missing tenths and were in front of that group.

“If for any reason you don’t do a perfect lap in qualifying you can fail to get through to Q3. But, for us, to be honest, the driving mistake I made in qualifying on Saturday in Silverstone in Q2, worked out in our favour, because I was able to choose the strategy we wanted in terms of the fuel load. And being able to do that brought a bigger advantage than if I had made it into Q3 and qualified ninth for example, when I would have found myself inevitably on a similar strategy to those directly ahead of me, so this definitely contributed to me being able to finish fourth.

“This weekend in Silverstone, Ferrari was the only team to use KERS. We continue to use it, because our car was designed around it and we will probably use it for the rest of the season. Developing the KERS cost a lot of money and we’ve ended up with a car that is not strong enough. The KERS has been useful to me and Kimi, especially at the start of the races, but in some ways, maybe if our car had been better and we could have started from the front, then we would not have needed the KERS so much to move up the order! As for the new components we brought to Silverstone, maybe our development was not really enough, if you look at how some of the other teams had moved forward. We need to keep working and trying and bring bigger developments to the next races if we can, but possibly we are reaching the limitations of the car that we’ve got. Of course, you can always improve a car, but maybe now, the work on next year’s car should be our main concern. There is still a need to keep developing the F60 however, because usually many elements can be carried over from one year to the next, or this year’s car can be used to try new ideas for 2010 when the rules will be similar to this year’s.

“Next we go to the Nurburgring, where we have not been for two years. But I can still remember the 2007 event, where I had a great race and would have won, but it rained in the last few laps and I really struggled on my rain tyres that were giving me a lot of vibration. That allowed Alonso to catch me and we had a good fight, then we touched each other and he got past and I had to settle for second. It was a shame as the race was in my pocket until the conditions changed. All the same it was a good result and I’d shown good pace, setting the race fastest lap.

As we haven’t been there for a while, it’s hard to tell if the Nurburgring will suit our car, but it is a good track and maybe the KERS should be more useful there than it was in Silverstone. Whatever happens, I hope we can have some more developments on the car for that race and I look forward to having a good weekend there. We have a bit of a longer wait than usual, as there are two free weekends before the next race, so I have taken the opportunity to fly home to Brazil, which I did a few hours after the British GP on the Sunday night. I will stay here at home for almost two weeks and then I will stop off at Maranello for some meetings before heading to Germany.”

 

"We can be more competitive this weekend"

June 16, 2009 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Maranello - “I had an unusual experience on Monday – driving a Formula 1 car away from a race weekend! With the ban on in-season testing, the time between races will usually involve quite a lot of talk with the engineers in Maranello about what is planned for the car for the following races, but no actual driving. This time however, with our test driver Marc Gene having just finished competing in and winning the Le Mans 24 Hours, I was given the job of sitting behind the wheel for an aerodynamic test at Fiorano. I say “sitting behind the wheel” rather than driving, because to be honest, it’s not the most interesting thing for a driver and you are a more like a robot, simply driving the car up and down in straight lines. But, it’s very important for the team and the development of the car, so I was more than happy to do it. Just driving up and down a straight means you cannot give the engineers much feedback as to how the car feels, but by changing front wings for example and looking at the telemetry data, you can compare it to data gathered in the wind tunnel and see if the numbers match, which means you are on the right track.

“On paper, this weekend’s British Grand Prix takes place at a track with some similarities to the last race in Istanbul, where we were not so competitive: this weekend’s track also features fast corners, flowing sections and a final slow sector and we will have the same two types of tyre from Bridgestone, but that doesn’t mean I think we will struggle as much as we did a fortnight ago. For a start, the new components we have on the car this weekend, including a front wing and a lighter chassis, should make us more competitive. But, more importantly, in Turkey we went backwards over the course of the weekend, after being very competitive on Friday and on Saturday morning. We now know why that happened, which is the most important thing: we believe that with the very high track temperatures, we ran too low on the downforce and should have run with more rear wing, because as the temperature rises, the grip from the tyres went down and we needed to compensate for that. As the temperature gradually got higher, our cars were running slower and slower in the first sector of the track; the one where you need the most downforce. In other words, the problem we had was related to the way we worked, rather than any specific fault on the car.

“So I think we can be more competitive this weekend, with these changes to the car. Apparently this is the last time we will race at Silverstone and I have to say that I have always enjoyed racing here, even if my track record is nothing special, especially in the wet and if you think back to last year, I had a terrible afternoon in the rain. All the same, it is a nice track and I hope that where we go next for the British Grand Prix will be as good as Silverstone in terms of its layout and the pleasure it provides in terms of driving. I’m heading to the UK today Tuesday, straight from Maranello, as I am attending an event in London for Shell, which is fine for me, as I enjoy spending time in London and then I will head up to Silverstone on Thursday.

“Whatever happens on the race track this weekend, the current political situation in the sport is bound to be making the headlines again. When I am driving the car, I never think about it and simply concentrate on my job of driving as quickly as possible, but outside the cockpit, I think about these problems, as they do affect me, as the relate to my future and the future of Formula 1. We are all very concerned about the situation and I follow the developments closely, as it affects my professional life, even if I can have no real influence over how the situation evolves: that’s down to the people who govern the sport and those in charge of the teams. We need our sport to be in better shape, because over the past few months there have been some very stupid fights. Everyone needs to work hard to make the sport what it should be for the fans, the teams, the sponsors and the drivers. We don’t need this fighting. The situation looks bad at the moment, but if agreement can be reached then it can have a healthy future. If not, then we need to look seriously at what is the best option: as the teams appear to be united, then maybe it is time to look at doing something different that could be better for the sport.”

 

"I have a very good record in Istanbul"

June 2, 2009 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Maranello - It’s nice to be able to have something really positive to say for the first time this season and finishing third and fourth in the Monaco Grand Prix and setting the race fastest lap are two excellent reasons to be positive. Sure, at Ferrari we are used to not settling for anything less than a win, but given where we were at the start of the season, there is now a good reason to be optimistic for the next few races.

The car had definitely made another step forward in between Spain and Monaco, which meant it was even more competitive on the streets of Monte Carlo. Really, I felt I put in a very strong performance right from the start of first practice on Thursday. Unfortunately, traffic slightly spoilt my qualifying, otherwise I could have started in the top three and that could have changed the final outcome for me, because starting in the top three with three laps more fuel than the others could have been much better for me. The other aspect that worked against me is that, at the end of every stint, I found myself with Jenson right in front of me. Without these elements I feel I could have finished second, but more importantly, it showed that we have got closer to the pace of the Brawns and can look forward to being even more competitive over the next few races.

I came close to getting into trouble for driving over the kerbs a few times, but I was pushing very hard to gain position and in the second stint especially I was pushing like crazy! In that situation, especially in Monaco, you can find yourself going over the chicane. It wasn’t giving me any lap time and possibly I was over-driving a little bit. Later, I set the race fastest lap without cutting the chicane at all. The slick tyres that we’ve been using since the start of the year showed their worth in Monaco, as they give you more mechanical grip, which on a tight street circuit makes you feel a bit more comfortable and that explains why there were fewer accidents than in the past.

For Istanbul, we will have another small step in terms of aerodynamic development, which should improve the car still further and that is down to a big push from the guys in the factory. We want to continue to improve as quickly as possible, to try and win some races. If will be fantastic if we find we are in a position to fight for the win in Turkey.

I have a very good record in Istanbul, having won for the last three years starting from pole position each time. I find it difficult to explain why I should be so strong here, other than the fact we had three fantastic weekends in Turkey, when everything worked perfectly, with the car performing very well right from the first session. It would be nice to carry on in the same direction. I just like the track and feel comfortable there, but it’s hard to pinpoint why it suits me better than some other circuits. I do prefer fast flowing tracks and have a feel for all the corners here, as it’s not good enough to only be fast over one particular section of the track. I think I’ve also found a good way to set up the car perfectly for this circuit. It’s not just Turkey though, as I’ve won in Brazil for the last two years and actually, it should have been the last three in my home race. In fact, it’s been suggested to me that maybe the reason is that they are the only two anti-clockwise circuits on the calendar. Who knows? Maybe I’m better than others at driving through left handed corners!

Turn 8 in Istanbul is an amazing corner, where you hit one of the highest lateral G force levels of the season, which puts a lot of stress on your neck and body. On top of that, in the middle of the corner, you have a big bump, which can give you a problem in terms of stability. It is a really a tricky corner, with different lines to choose from, depending on how your car is behaving: sometimes you have too much understeer, or oversteer in the middle and all these factors make it very challenging.

The last few years, I haven’t had to give much thought to the overtaking possibilities in Istanbul, starting from the number one slot on the grid. This year, given how competitive the front of the field is in qualifying, it is going to be a very interesting Saturday afternoon, but at least the track does provide some passing opportunities, especially with the long main straight. Last year, Lewis (Hamilton) changed his strategy to a three stop and was easily able to pass me.

With the last race being in Monaco, I’ve been able to spend a lot of time at home, and with the good weather I’ve enjoyed training outdoors in preparation for what I hope will be a fantastic weekend for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro. On Wednesday I jump on a flight to Istanbul and I can’t wait for Friday to see if the progress seen in Spain and Monaco will continue in Turkey.

 

Massa: "Ferrari never gives up"

May 14, 2009 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Maranello - The days after the Spanish GP I read that I've raised the white flag for this season. This is not the case and I want that to be clear. Obviously the situation in the Championship is very very difficult and it seems to be quite realistic saying that catching up seems to be almost impossible, considering our gap as far as the points are concerned. That doesn't mean that we've given up. We'll continue working on the car and will give it our all to win races and finish the Championship the best way possible. We've shown last year that we're not a team that gives up when there are negative results.

The F60's behaviour at Barcelona was completely different compared to the first races: it was much more fun driving it, it was more stable and had more grip and a higher downforce. That was a huge step forward and it shows that we're able to improve a lot after a difficult start. We've worked a lot and this result is encouraging for the near future, when we'll have new developments coming up.

They say that a car that's doing well at Barcelona goes well everywhere. I'm not sure if this is true, but what I can say is that we were competitive again. The car is not perfect - no car is - and we've still got some problems with the hard compound, especially on the first lap: we made a step forward, but that's still not enough.

The fact that we brought such a big package of improvements to Barcelona without practically testing it on the track means that Friday's free practice sessions were very intense and we had to understand the effects of all these modifications. The good news from last weekend is that the F60 finally seems to be competitive. This is thanks to everybody who has been working so hard at Maranello and at the track; the bad news is that we've still got reliability problems. Kimi had to retire and I had problems during both of the pit stops with the fuel that didn't completely go into the tank. We still have to understand what happened there: we've tested and analysed a lot at Maranello these days, but we haven't reached a final conclusion yet. It was really frustrating when I had to give away two positions, because I had to slow down to safe petrol to cross the line. Furthermore I lost the cover of the left front wheel. That confirms that when you have so many improvements on the track some reliability problems might show up especially when you don't have the test sessions we were used to in the past.

This is the first week, compared to the last years, I don't have to drive the car before a race, due to the new rules. There's still the simulator; it can't replace the car, but it's still a good opportunity to get ready for the next Grand Prix. During the week I'll be at the CRF in Turin working on the race at Monte Carlo. It's true that we had a more competitive car, but we know that this is a completely different circuit compared to Montmelò, which can only be compared to Singapore. Having said that I think that the F60 will go well at Monaco, also because we'll have numerous improvements. Considering that overtaking is almost impossible, we have to try to find the best possible set up for the qualifying, for the best possible position on the grid. They say that the KERS won't help in this race; but I think that we'll use it, also because our car's project was born around this system. It's strange that on such a short circuit with such small gaps the system could be decisive. We hope that we'll make a further step ahead, the way we did in Spain.

 

"A race compromised from the start"

April 30, 2009 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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San Paolo - Four races and still no points, although at least Kimi got some at Sakhir, so that the Scuderia has finally got off the mark. In all the past years when things were going very well for us, we have always said that, in F1, things can change very quickly and with a quarter of the 2009 almost completed, we have had the proof of that with new names at the top of the order.

In Bahrain we had an exceptionally good chance to score some serious points, but my race was compromised right from the start when I had a collision. The fact the collision was with my team-mate Kimi is just one of those things that can happen in racing, especially at the start when everyone is so close. I was in the middle of a sandwich and lost my front wing and the long pit stop meant my race was pretty much over. So it’s no big deal that it happened with him, but it did ruin my whole afternoon after that, although other problems like the telemetry not working didn’t help either.

We did make a step forward in Bahrain in terms of performance and that is partly down to running the KERS again, which was definitely an advantage at the Sakhir track. The performance itself was quite reasonable and I was able to run at a strong pace when I had a clear track ahead of me, so I think we can claim to have made a step forward, even though there is still a need to improve the car and, of course, this is what everyone at Maranello is working on right now.

What you can be sure of is that all the teams will be working hard and most should improve by the time we get to Barcelona, so that whatever Ferrari can do will have to be measured against that. We have a big package coming for Spain and it’s not just a case of working on producing a new double diffuser, even though this is the element that has caught everyone’s imagination. The numbers show this should have a big effect on lap time and I am pretty confident this should allow the Scuderia to make a big step forward.

The fact the next race is in Barcelona has several advantages, even if they apply to all the teams equally: it is a track that has been used so much for testing that everyone knows what to expect and how to analyse the data we will get there on Friday, taking into account outside factors like ambient temperature and the wind speed and direction. In addition, the character of the track calls for a very efficient car and therefore it can provide us with an accurate picture of just how the F60 is performing with the new parts we will have on it for the race weekend. Hopefully, we will use this to our advantage to improve our qualifying performance to give us a better chance in the race.

It seems strange now to be back home in Brazil after the race in Bahrain, as in past years, the ten days before the first European race used to see some of the most intensive testing activity of the year, but now of course, all that is banned. To be honest, even if it seems strange not to be driving somewhere in Europe right now, I have been making up for it by keeping in touch with the factory more closely than usual. We have all had to find different ways to do our job and try and improve our car, without actually running on track. In this situation, using a simulator becomes very important and currently Ferrari is working on the development of a new one, which should prove even more useful than the one we have at present. On the plus side, I’ve been able to come back home to Brazil for one week and on Sunday, I head back to Europe and from then on I will stay there for most of the European summer.

Four races in five weekends has made for a very intense start to the season and my aim now is firstly to score my first points of the year and then to look to go for my first win of the season. Until we start winning races again, it’s difficult to start thinking in terms of the championship. We need to work day and night to return to having a very competitive car. Only then we can start thinking about the championship titles – maybe it will be too late, maybe not, but we’re not giving up.

Although it’s been a tough time for us at the Scuderia, I am still enjoying my driving at the moment. We have all these new elements, the slick tyres, the KERS, the adjustable front wing and making the most of them on track has been very interesting. A bit more downforce would make it even more fun! But I’ve got my job to do and even if I only had three wheels on my car I would still be doing my best and improve the situation. But for now, more downforce is what I want.

When we get to Spain, without the benefit of being able to test, Friday morning will be very interesting. Although it is too early to establish our programme for the first day of practice in Barcelona, we might try the new package on one car only in the first session in the morning, in order to run a comparison test with the old one, before both running it in the second session. But nearer the time, we will have a better idea if there’s a need to do a back to back. With all the new aero packages and other interesting developments throughout the field, it should be a very interesting Friday for everyone.

 

Sakhir: "I do expect to be more competitive"

April 21, 2009 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Dubai - The days of putting my thoughts down after each race and talking about winning and being on the podium seem to be a long time ago at the moment and honestly, going over each race is currently more of a pain than a pleasure. But I’ve not given up hope and there were some bright moments in a very dark and wet Chinese weekend.

In Shanghai, we still were not competitive enough and we had also taken the decision to run without KERS which could have been more of a handicap, but in the rain on Sunday, we were very strong. I was able to make up several places and I was running at a pace similar to the guys at the front of the field. That was the plus side, but on the minus side, reliability let us down again and I was unable to finish the race. Back at the factory, we continue to push very hard to overcome these reliability problems. The electrical fault that forced me to stop at the side of the track was, once again, a failure we had neverseen before. It has to be said that luck doesn’t seem to be on our side at the moment, as it was a very small and stupid problem that made the car stop, because it was simply a faulty reading within the on board data that indicated to the control unit that the throttle should be shut down. So, even though there was actually nothing wrong, the car’s computer decided to shut down the throttle and I had to park it.

After Malaysia, we restructured the race team, with Chris Dyer, our head of race engineering, taking on more responsibility trackside and in China this worked well. Chris is very calm and patient when it comes to making decisions. Although, in reality, once we had decided I was on a one-stop strategy for the race, there were not that many decisions to make on my car. So, it is too early to say how the new organisation will work out and we must wait and see what happens in more complex race situations. I am sure Chris will do a good job.

Because of problems in Malaysia, we opted not to use the KERS and, given that we had a wet race, this had less of a negative impact on our performance than if it had been dry. But, even in the rain, KERS could have been useful down the straights. At the time of writing, I am not entirely sure whether or not we will have it in Bahrain. Back in the factory, a great deal of work has gone into working on the system since the race in Sepang, so I am hopeful it can help us in this race.

Currently, I am in Dubai, and tomorrow, I am making a stop in Abu Dhabi, attending events for Mubadala and Etihad, before arriving in Bahrain on Wednesday night. I have always gone well at the Sakhir circuit, winning for the last two years, so I hope this is a good sign. In more practical terms, we tested here during the winter and the car was not too bad to be honest and the tyres seemed to suit the package we have. I really do expect to be more competitive, especially if we have KERS, as it should be a significant advantage at this track. I hope that finally we can make life difficult for the other teams and fight for a very good result. I am very motivated, despite the difficult times until now. But change must come and hopefully that will start this weekend. It should be much hotter than we are used to here, but I don’t think that should be a problem to deal with.

 

Looking at China

April 13, 2009 · Posted by Felipe Massa
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Sao Paolo, April 13th 2009 - I am back in Sao Paolo for a few days and I have to say it’s always nice to come home, especially as I haven’t been here for about three months, a long time. I’m training and relaxing a bit but not for long because on Sunday I’m back on a plane flying to China.

Looking to take some positives from the Malaysian weekend, I think the car was a little bit more competitive, especially in terms of race pace, even if its still not easy in qualifying to find  the best lap. On Friday, we had a very good run and then, on Saturday in qualifying we had a big problem to get past Q1 but that was down to different issues in terms of how we tackled the session, rather than a car performance matter.

The car is getting more competitive all the time and the F60 should have some aerodynamic updates in China, which means it should make another step forward, but we still need to improve a lot because the guys in front, especially the Brawns are very strong. We need to push and we need to try our best, but at the moment Formula 1 seems to be split into three groups: cars running the special diffuser, cars running KERS, cars without KERS or the diffuser, so it’s hard to assess what is really going on across all the teams.

On Sunday night, after a second race where we failed to score points, I said that it was not a case of everyone at Ferrari becoming stupid or forgetting how to do their jobs which caused us to have a bad weekend, but we need to be cool and calm now in how we take decisions at the track. If you are too emotional, most of the time you do the wrong thing. We need to get on the right path to taking better decisions and, since Sepang, we have discussed ways of improving the organisation of the race team, while also improving the car of course. At the moment, we are not very good in many aspects of what we are doing, but it is also true that we have very good people within the race team and back in Maranello, so we know we can react, improve and change some details. But it is important that we do not try and change everything, because if you change too much, you can make matters even worse. We know what areas we need to work on and everyone in the team is really motivated to improve, which is the most important thing.

As for the last race, it was very chaotic because of the weather. We always knew that a late start in Malaysia would be a gamble in terms of the weather and the gamble was lost I guess. When they decided not to restart the race, the conditions were actually okay for racing, but it would have been far too dark to do the necessary number of laps to award full points. Even if it looked quite light, if you were watching on TV, you have to remember we were near the equator and night time arrives like an on/off switch there: one moment it’s day, the next it’s night. The problem with these late starts is that the slightest problem with the race and there is no time to complete it.

This season we have seen the usual front runners, ourselves and McLaren, both struggling and this situation for sure is not helped by the fact that in-season testing is banned. But we can improve the car without testing, thanks to all the simulation tools available to us. Where I think we will miss the testing is that I feel there is no substitute for driving around a race track to ensure your car can run reliably. Reliability is something you can see in testing, whereas for developing the car, we can do that in the wind tunnel, because, in the past, most of the times we have brought developments from the tunnel to the track, they have worked. But this rule is the same for everyone and I don’t think it has a significant effect. I would say it is the other rules, for example those that govern elements like the diffuser and KERS that are causing the problems.

I am looking forward to China, in the hope that we finally score some points. In the past, I have come third and last year second at Shanghai and I would really like to be back on the podium again. I expect us to be maybe a couple of tenths quicker than in the first two races, which might be a help to move up the order, but we mustn’t forget the other teams are also working on their cars. We have to accept that this year, we do not have one of the quickest cars on the grid. So we need to find more performance. I like Shanghai and the track is very nice and I have a good feeling for it. I’m looking forward to bringing home our first points. Looking at the lack of points, we can take some consolation that last year after two races, I had no points, just like now, but the difference is that last year our car was a bit better compared to the opposition.

Before I joined Ferrari, I drove for a team that was not used to winning, but many people at the Scuderia have only known the successful times, so maybe I can understand better than them what it means to struggle. But I think a top team having a difficult season is better equipped to recover, so I am hopeful that we can put this bad start to the year behind us and get back on the right road.

 

Massa: "It's important to keep working with Kers"

April 1, 2009 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Sepang, April 1st 2009 - It’s not unusual for me to have a difficult start to the season, as the Australian race has unfortunately always been one where luck does not seem to have been with me. And that was definitely the case again this year. A tough start is something we know how to deal with as a team, but I would say that the difference for this year is that while, in the past, we knew we had a great car, I think this year there are definitely some teams currently running a better package than the one we have made around the F60.

On the plus side, my impression is that the nature of the Albert Park circuit and the conditions over the weekend were particularly unfavourable to our car and so, the situation for the future is not as bad as it might look from the outside. In winter testing, the car was stronger than this and it was also easier to drive, so the combination of the type of track surface and the tyres exaggerated the difficulties we had in Melbourne. At the start of the weekend we already saw we were going to struggle a bit making the tyres work, but then the situation actually got worse in this respect as the weekend went on. With the Malaysian race weekend starting in just a few days, there is no way we are going to significantly develop our car, but we can improve the way we work with it, based on all the data we gathered in Australia. Even if the car was not so strong in terms of its race pace, we should have been capable of picking up some points, but we didn’t because of reliability issues, so this too is an area we need to watch carefully.

In Melbourne, I was pleased with the way the KERS worked, especially at the start, which was very good and the KERS was very useful for me. I used it all through the race and it helped me defend my position and it was also useful at the restart after the Safety Car period, so I think it’s important to keep working with it.

When it comes to discussing the order for the teams, we don’t even need to mention the Brawns, as they are in a different class at the moment. But I think we are competitive with the rest. As for Malaysia this weekend, while that team will be out in front, I think Ferrari can be much more competitive there. I have arrived in Malaysia now, having left Melbourne on Monday night and I will be doing a bit of outdoor training to get used to the heat and humidity, although to be honest, it doesn’t bother me that much. I hope I have a good weekend and that Scuderia Ferrari does too.

 

Massa: “Finally we’re racing again”

March 24, 2009 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Maranello, March 24th 2009 - It was a long wait, longer than usual, as the Australian GP’s date had been moved, but now we’re ready to race and I can’t wait.

Last week everybody spoke about the classifications and the point system with changes introduced and then recalled. I think the best idea was the one presented by the teams, where the GP winner would have taken a lot more points than the second. If the FIA didn’t like this idea I think it’s better to remain with last year’s system. I’d say that the rule to assign the title to the driver who wins the most races is not correct. A driver might win more races, but might be very inconsistent in his performance, not gaining many points; in this case I think he wouldn’t deserve the title. In case the difference in points for the winner and the second-placed would be bigger, there would be a bigger stimulus to fight for the win, but one would still have to be consistent during the season. We’ve 17 races in these Championships, this is not a 100 metres sprint at the Olympic Games where everything happens in under 10 seconds. And I’m really not interested in the fact that with such a system I would have won the title last year. I’m interested in what’s right for our sport.

I’m going to Australia with great confidence and optimism, but also with some caution: the test results are not always repeated during the race weekends. We’ve seen during the tests that there are also some other very strong teams, especially in the last sessions the Brawns. It seems that they’ve got the fastest car at the moment and I think that their pace is real; maybe they found something that makes the difference. We’ll see in Melbourne; but I think they’ve got a good car and they did their tests with the right weight.

There are many new elements this year we’ve got to work with from a technical point of view. We’ve worked very hard during the winter tests and now we can say that their use is normal. For example the possibility to adjust the front wing’s flap via a button and the manettino on the steering wheel: I don’t know yet if it will help to facilitate overtaking due to the lower downforce on the front when driving in a slipstream; during the tests we couldn’t really try that out. As far as the KERS is concerned I have to say that it’s a very important device for us and it will be also very helpful. I’m enjoying working with all these new solutions: they make driving much more interesting. The most important change and also the most enjoyable one are the slicks. When the tyres are used the car skids much more compared to last year, but that’s not a problem, because due to the higher mechanical grip it’s easy to keep them under control. With last year’s tyres, when you had a little bit of oversteer, the car suddenly skidded, while with the slicks it’s somehow more progressive and easier to correct the movements.

I’m 100% ready, perfectly in shape and I think that this also applies to the Team. We made some mistakes last year and we’ve been working hard all winter long to improve where we weren’t perfect.

Everybody worked hard, analysing the mistakes, trying to find solutions. I think we’re very well prepared and that we’ve done some great work.

My teammate is still my strongest competitor and I think that Kimi will be very strong - as usual. My goal is very simple: I want a season like in 2008 and to reach that goal I have to stay concentrated and work very hard. The first race is always a bit like a leap in the dark, but I can’t wait. As the race starts at 17:00 let’s hope that it won’t also end in the dark!

 

"Zero pressure"

October 25, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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“Over the past few years, I’ve got used to the idea of preparing for the final race of the season at home here in Sao Paolo and I’m making the most of it, as next year there will still be one more grand prix to go after the round at Interlagos. I came home immediately after the race in Shanghai, which was good from a team point of view as Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro picked up fourteen points and extended its lead in the Constructors’, but from my perspective, the title race got even tougher, as Lewis won and so I have lost an additional two points. “In Shanghai, it was obvious right from Friday practice that McLaren were going to be very hard to beat. We saw they were very competitive, but you can never be completely sure what programme they are running, so it’s best to concentrate on your own work, sorting out your own car and not start worrying about the opposition. Then on Saturday, we saw the trend continue and so we knew qualifying and the race would be tough. It’s fair to say that our car, the F2008 has been inconsistent in terms of its performance: in some circumstances we are extremely competitive and at others a little bit less so. This is due to a variety of factors which you have to take into consideration, such as the track layout, the track surface and how the tyres are working.“I know there have been comments about my overtaking Kimi in the final stages of the Shanghai race, but they have come from people who don’t really understand how the sport works. It is a team sport and both me and Kimi know we have to do what is best for the team. For sure, psychologically a racing driver always wants to finish in front, always wants to win: it doesn’t matter if you are playing a friend on a computer game or driving a Formula 1 car. But all drivers have a contract with their team and so you are not racing as an individual. When you are fighting for the championship, with only one driver with a mathematical chance of winning, then all the teams in the pit lane would do the same, which is to put that one driver in a position where he has the best chance of winning. That is part of this sport.“The only thing I am thinking about is winning. After that, the matter is not in my hands and we will have to wait and see exactly what and how much we have won. “Another plus for me is that I will have a huge following here in my home town. Brazilian people love Formula 1, love motor racing and it is really big passion for them. I really like to race at home and I think I race better at home. Do I need to say I’m very motivated?!  I love this track, I grew up here and I know all its little tricks and secrets. I first raced here when I was eight years old in a go-kart, as the karting track is inside the circuit complex. The first time I actually raced on the proper circuit was in 1998 in a Formula Opel race, although I can’t remember what position I finished.  The track is not bumpy anymore as they did a great job on the surface last year. It’s great to drive and over the weekend the atmosphere will be really special. The whole event is one of the best on the calendar in my opinion. “It is impossible to predict what will happen in the Brazilian Grand Prix, but I think our car has always been very good at this circuit, even if I cannot explain exactly why. We have always gone well here and I expect that to be the case at the weekend, whatever the conditions, in the dry or in the rain and in qualifying and in the race. For sure, Lewis will try and put pressure on me, but I have zero pressure, because I have nothing to lose. I have my people behind me and all the pressure will be on him, especially when you think about what happened at this race last year. I can’t wait for the final Sunday of the season.”

 

I like the Shanghai circuit

October 15, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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The Japanese Grand Prix last Sunday, was certainly interesting! It’s always important to score more points than our closest rivals at this point in the championship, with just two races to go, so we can be pleased that we managed to do that. It was definitely not the race we had expected to have, but in the end, it was a reasonable result, with the team moving back into the lead in the Constructors’ championship and for me, reducing my gap to Lewis in the Drivers’ from 7 to 5. But there are still those five points, so we need to recover even more, but I think, the Japanese result was better than nothing.“After the bad weather last year, it was enjoyable to have more time running at Fuji in the dry. I like the circuit and I think the race was pretty interesting, with plenty of overtaking and battles, which meant it was an enjoyable experience for the drivers, but also the fans who came to watch. We had some fun and on what is quite a difficult track, our car was quite competitive, which means I think we can expect to be equally competitive for the final two rounds of the championship. “I left Fuji on Sunday night a few hours after the race and came to Tokyo. I usually try and spend some time in Tokyo which I think is a fascinating city. I love it. It’s a nice place to be and although it is similar in some ways to other large cities like New York or maybe even Sao Paolo, it is also very unique and different; certainly less chaotic than my home city! There are plenty of places to visit, the hotels are good and the choice of restaurants is amazing. I have my wife and some of my family with me, so shopping has also been on the agenda and I think my credit cards must be on fire at the moment! “I fly to Shanghai on Wednesday and then, the following day I will be attending the Chinese launch of the new Ferrari California road car: it will be the third race in succession that I’ve done this. And then it will be time to get down to work again. Last year, in Shanghai, I finished third in a race that began in the wet. The track itself is quite interesting and everything there is on a very big scale, although the journey to and from the circuit can be a bit painful at times with the heavy traffic. I had quite a good race last year and hope to do even better this time. I like the circuit and I think it will suit the F2008, so of course we will be aiming to get a one-two finish.”

 

"Think positive"

October 3, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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“After the Singapore Grand Prix, the motto for the rest of the season has to be look ahead and don’t give up. As our Team Principal Stefano Domenicali said after the race, we really need to try and finish first and second in all the remaining rounds. It’s a tough call, but everyone in the Scuderia will be trying their best.“So, now we come to that refuelling incident: as I pulled away from the pit stop after getting the green light on our traffic light system, I didn’t feel anything strange at all and there was no sensation that I was pulling something behind me. Then Rob, my engineer, came on the radio and told me to stop because the fuel line was still attached to the car. Only then did I look in my mirror and see it, but by then it was much too late of course. We don’t use this light system just to be clever, because when it works correctly it makes for a faster release from the pit stop than a man operating a lollipop. The system can work automatically, linked to the refuelling nozzle coming off the car or it can be overridden and used manually. At this point, we were using it manually because, as you may have seen, I ran over some debris on the track and the team was checking if it was still stuck under the car. And unfortunately, the guy operating the system pressed the wrong button. Add in the drive through penalty and the puncture and it was a day to forget and move on.“Looking at a positive aspect of the weekend, our car seemed to have made a step forward as a result of our recent work and we had a great car throughout the three days, with a good enough performance level to have finished first and second, but for all the reasons you know, we failed to score a single point. The whole night racing experience was a nice idea, interesting and very different. However, this specific race did highlight the fact that the Safety Car rules still need to be looked at very carefully, because the idea of Formula 1 is that the race should be won by the best driver and car combination on the day. I know we made mistakes, but the current system, as you can see from the final result of Sunday’s race, means that the Safety Car can promote someone from the middle of the grid to the lead, not because of a clever strategy but simply by luck. I think the system needs to be changed and this problem was highlighted by the difficult nature of the Singapore track. The bumps in the track surface is another area that should be looked at before we go back next year, but the track itself was nice and different, with more similarities to Monaco than Valencia. There are just a few little details need changing.“As for the championship, like I said on Sunday, it depends how you look at it: a seven point gap can be a lot or it can be a little. If you look at what happened to me in Singapore where my gap went from one point to seven so suddenly, then you have to consider it could easily go the other way as well. The most important element to consider is that we have a very good car. Without that, my chances would be much smaller. We have two good cars and we can try and get both of us to finish ahead of our rivals. It can be done and we need to think positive and we need to keep fighting to the last race.”

 

"I can't wait to be back on the race track"

September 10, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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"A few hours after standing on the podium at Spa to receive the trophy for second place in the Belgian Grand Prix, I learned that I had actually been declared the winner. I was in the team motorhome, saying goodbye to everyone and getting ready to leave the circuit, when Stefano Domenicali informed me that the Stewards had penalised Lewis for his overtaking move on Kimi and that I was now the winner."Immediately after the podium ceremony, we knew the incident was under investigation and my first reaction was to find out what had actually happened, as I didn't see it when I was on the track. What Lewis did is the sort of thing that can happen, but I think he was maybe a bit too optimistic in thinking he could just hand back the position, albeit only partially to Kimi and then immediately try and pass him again. Incidents like this have often been discussed in the official driver briefings when it has been made absolutely clear that anyone cutting a chicane has to fully restore the position and also any other eventual advantage gained. If Lewis had taken the chicane correctly, he would never have been able to pass Kimi on the very short straight that follows it. That was my immediate opinion after seeing the replay. Maybe if Lewis had waited and tried to pass on the next straight, that would have been a different matter."It is now looking very interesting in terms of the championship, as I am just two points behind. I drove my race in Spa to finish, thinking about the championship situation and I did the right thing, because I gained one place after Kimi's crash and then after the race, came another move up the finish order. I am happy with that because the championship is really open now. But there are still five races to go and so we need to do a good job. The last couple of laps in Spa were extremely slippery and so I slowed down even more than normal because I saw there was a comfortable gap to the guy behind and I just wanted to make sure I finished the race. If I had been in a fight for another position, I would have pushed harder. But I was thinking more of the championship situation and I did not want to finish without any points, through taking risks."While I am pleased to have won, I have to feel sorry for Kimi too. I know what it is like to be leading a race and then losing it with a few laps to go. He was in a different situation to me when the rain came, as he was fighting for the win. It is very frustrating for him, especially after he drove a great race. Now, in just a few days we start again in Monza and I am really motivated to have a great race there, especially in front of all our home fans. We need to concentrate and be strong all weekend and then in the last few races.On Sunday night, I flew back to Monaco and I was able to celebrate with my uncles and my father who watched the race with me. I am leaving on Tuesday already for Monza, as I have some promotional work to do for the team and sponsors and then it will be down to work on Friday. Arriving in Monza as the winner of the last race is a boost and we also had a good test there the week before Spa. We did a lot of mileage which was important from the reliability point of view, especially on the engine front, which will be a key element for the coming races. We also did a lot of mileage running the low downforce Monza aero package. I think the results were generally okay and thanks to some changes on the suspension, we managed to improve the way the car works over the kerbs which is so important at this track.

 

"I think this is the best circuit on the current calendar"

September 2, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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“I have had a busy time since winning in Valencia and now, from that completely new street circuit, in a couple of days we go to one of the oldest and most challenging tracks in the world at Spa. In between these two races, I spent two days testing in Monza last week and generally the results were positive, although my work load was aimed entirely at the Italian Grand Prix and I did not really try anything specifically for the Spa circuit. Even though I was concentrating on the demands of the Monza track, we did a lot of mileage which was important from the reliability point of view for this weekend in Belgium, especially on the engine front. “Last year, I finished second in Belgium and in the past I had a fourth place when I was driving for Sauber. Like most of the drivers, I think this is the best circuit on the current calendar and I love the track and it’s great to be going there. It’s always nice to be at Spa and I have good memories of last year, when we had a competitive car and the team got a one-two finish. I hope we can repeat that performance and have a car that is good enough to keep ahead of the McLarens, which of course is our main target at the moment. I will also be hoping to be ahead of my team-mate, but Kimi has always been quick at Spa, not just in Formula 1, but he was also a winner here in the junior categories and he has won the last three grands prix at this track. So for sure, it won’t be easy to beat him and I am looking forward to a good battle with my team-mate. The F2008 should be competitive and our aim will be to bring home as many points as possible for the team.“You cannot talk about Spa without mentioning the rain: if it’s just steady rain, the track is not too difficult to deal with, but sometimes the rain in Spa comes with fog and that makes visibility very poor and it’s not too comfortable to drive in. As a team, all we can do is to be as well prepared for any situation that might occur, including the possibility of rain at the back of the circuit and nowhere else, which I have encountered before. I remember watching a GP2 race run in those conditions and it was pretty interesting! We need to keep an open mind and be ready to react quickly if the weather changes suddenly. “Spa is not a circuit where you can do so many laps in practice, because it’s such a long track and apart from the time restriction of the length of the practice sessions, you also have to think about the mileage on the engine, at least after Friday. This also means you have to plan your work on the track very efficiently and make any changes to the set-up very quickly, so as not to waste too much time in the pits. The track length also complicates race strategy as a fuel difference of one lap could end up costing you a lot of time, which means that strategy is even more important than usual. On top of that, because driving the track is in itself so challenging, you really need a good car to be competitive; one that gives you plenty of downforce for the changes of direction and the many quick corners. The car really needs to be very well balanced. If we can put all these elements together from Friday morning through to this coming Sunday afternoon, then I believe we can have a really good weekend in Spa. I’m looking forward to it.”

 

"I want to keep winning"

August 27, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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“That was a fantastic weekend and like I said at the time, it was also a perfect weekend, with pole, the win and fastest lap and honestly, I didn’t have a single problem all weekend. Everything worked very well right from the start of first practice on Friday. This was partly down to the work we did before the even with our simulation programme. But these things are never one hundred percent accurate and there are several elements that you cannot learn much about until you actually get to the track, such as the condition of the track surface and how much and how quickly the asphalt will improve. But in terms of simply learning the track, the simulation does help and it is an important tool. It meant we had a good idea of what to expect when we began driving.“As for the circuit itself, it actually looked much better on paper than in real life! On paper it seemed really interesting, but the race itself did not provide as much overtaking as we had maybe expected. However, leaving aside racing, the actual driving on this track was fun and it is better than many other tracks, that’s for sure. Before we went there, there was a lot of talk about the high potential for accidents and the possible intervention of the Safety Car, but it didn’t happen. I think the track was better than expected in this respect. Personally I was glad there were no neutralisation periods in the race, as my strategy had not been based on the possible arrival of the Safety Car. This time I chose a fairly aggressive race strategy as I had a very competitive car. When you choose a very aggressive strategy and you’re not sure if you’re going to start from pole position, it is always a potentially difficult situation as your strategy could work against you if you do not meet your qualifying target. When you know you have a quick car, you really have to do all you can to get pole as it is the best possible way to go into the race. “After Kimi’s engine failed, it was disappointing of course, but I was not too concerned for my own engine. Kimi’s failure involved a part in the engine that had failed on my engine in Budapest and while the team felt it was the better risk to leave Kimi’s engine after the Hungarian GP, rather than give him a big grid penalty on a tight track, mine of course had to be changed. Now the batch of “cursed” con-rods is no longer being used and we have instigated very close controls on the parts we are using. I hope the problem has gone away for both of us.“My win in Valencia moves me ahead of Kimi into second place in the championship. I’ve been asked by some media if I feel Ferrari should favour me for the title now there are just six races remaining: all I can say to this is that I want to keep winning, to keep beating not just my team-mate but the others too. Decisions like this are nothing to do with me. I just do the best job possible for the team and leave the rest to the team management.“On Sunday night, I stayed in Valencia and celebrated my win with my family and some friends and got home to Monaco on the Monday. But already on Tuesday afternoon, I drove off to the Monza circuit where I am today in the cockpit of my F2008 for two days of testing, before the Belgian Grand Prix. Life is going to be very busy and exciting over the next few weeks.”

 

"It was a shame"

August 7, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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A couple of days ago I came back to Sao Paulo: I tried to forget the race at Budapest, but that's quite difficult! Although I don't want to forget the Hungarian GP, because in a certain way it was one of the best races I ever had in Formula 1, but it didn't end as the others, with a win. It was a shame, because I really think that me and the Team deserved the success: we had a perfect race at a very important moment of the Championship. Unfortunately we couldn't bring home the ten points we already had in our hands: it was really frustrating, but these things sometimes happen in motor sports.The start was the crucial moment. I spoke about it a lot with my engineers before the race. I knew that I could have a good start, thanks to the starting system of the car; I expected to pass Kovalainen, because on the clean side of the track I had an advantage. I was confident and I was right. Before the start we also thought about overtaking Hamilton and the only way to do it was by having a good start. So when I had passed Kovalainen I knew that I had to put my car behind the other McLaren, to make the most out of it. When he saw me coming, he immediately moved to the inside to defend himself, but I had a good pace and I knew that this was the decisive moment to try to overtake. I was very determined and I braked right at the limit and I even blocked the wheels: I thought that I might not make it, but then the wheels unlocked and I could take the corner. Then I had much better acceleration than Hamilton and I was able to stay ahead. For the first three or four laps my tyres vibrated slightly, but when it stopped I thought "Ok, the tyres are alright."Form then on I drove with very good rhythm: I think you can count the laps Lewis was faster than me on one hand. I managed to gain an advantage before the first pit stop and then a bigger one before the second stop. When Lewis had his problem I slowed down, because I had an advantage of 23 seconds on Heikki. I wasn't worried at all, because I could keep the pace I wanted. Even with the supersoft tyres I didn't have any problems, because I didn't go to the limit.But in the end it was not my day. When the engine failed I had a strange feeling. It was like a nightmare and I wanted to wake up, but I couldn't, because I was already awake! It was an incredible disappointment. This sport can be really cruel.Looking at the standigs at least I can stay calm, because not even Lewis won, but we can't throw away points like that. We lost ten, but the positive aspect is, that we've demonstrated that we're strong. The Team has done some great work over the whole weekend, in terms of strategy and eliminating the problems we had in England and Germany.We've worked hard to make the car competitive again and this is a good thing for the upcoming races. But we've got to resolve the remaining problems: we have to be as competitive as at Budapest, but we need to raise our reliability. We can't repeat certain mistakes: we don't have any more excuses."

 

Massa can't wait to race again

July 30, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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We're heading for the Hungarian GP and we've got the possibility to make up for the disappointment at Hockenheim, where our performance wasn't up to our expectations. We suffered a lot during that weekend, but now, after the four days of testing at Jerez - where I was on the track on the last day - I think we understand the problems we had in Germany, although I don't want to get into detail. Let's say that I'm quite confident that we'll have a very different performance of the F2008 in the next races. Obviously the German GP was really disappointing, but at least we managed to gain some points, which is very important for the Championship, while things at the top remain open. It would be better to be ahead than four points behind, but I'm sure that the next races will go well for us. At Jerez we also worked on some improvements of the car. That means that we worked on finding out what had gone wrong in Germany, but took also a step ahead. We worked a lot on the set up, also for races like the one in Singapore, where there will be lower temperatures, because it's a night race. We left Jerez with lots of data, which will help us on the short and on the long term. Just like the track at Monte Carlo, also the Hungaroring needs a maximum of aerodynamical downforce, while we're using the Bridgestone soft and supersoft tyres: with this configuration things went well at the Monaco GP, where we were very competitive. This is another reason to be confident. Although I prefer fast tracks, I like the one in Budapest: I've never reached the podium, but I was always really strong. Over the last days I relaxed at home in Monaco. Before that I spent a day testing at Jerez and another one at the simulator at the FIAT R&D centre, where we worked with the race at Valencia in sight, which will be held at the end of August. To get to know a new track, especially the corners, is always an interesting experience and I have to say that the track seems to be very demanding. There are many important breaks and changes of direction in the slow corners, but also very fast straights. I think it will be an interesting race and it was useful to drive a couple of laps on the simulator: it can be useful at least to get an idea of what we expect on Friday morning on the first day of Free Practice. I don't use the simulator very often, although I work in its development with the technicians. Usually I'm working at the CRF with Marc Gené and Andrea Bertolini, who are a big help for the Team. But before Valencia there's Budapest: with all the experience from Jerez I can't wait to race again.

 

Consistency is the most important factor

July 18, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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The F1 press seem to have just one subject on their mind, as we start the second half of the season: who will be champion? But, in his Thursday meeting with the media, Felipe Massa did not have the answer to that question. “I think it is very difficult to say what will be the main factor in deciding the outcome of the championship,” reckoned the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver. “When you see there are four guys all within two points at the top of the table it is such a small difference, you cannot say that one thing will make the difference. Each one of us is in the same boat and many things can happen from one race to the next. Consistency will be the most important factor between now and the end of the season. Because if one of your rivals has a bad race with no points, then if you are consistent, this can make the difference in your favour for the championship. I have a good chance like the others in this tight competition. My strengths are that I have a great car and I am working with a great team and I plan to make the most of those assets to get stronger all the time and fight for a good amount of points at every race.” The close competition is not just restricted to Sunday afternoon between the four main title contenders, as Saturday afternoon has proved to be a key to success the next day. “I am happy with my qualifying performance, because it is so close that just the slightest mistake can mean the difference between pole position and fourth place on the grid,” maintained Felipe. “It is important to be quick in qualifying as that can help you a lot in the race, but the others are quick too, so if a driver like Kimi or Lewis finds the right lap, it can give them pole, and the same applies to me. My aim over Saturday and Sunday is to put together a really strong qualifying lap and then translate it into a consistent performance in the race.” Judging by the flags and banners outside the Hockenheimring and in the surrounding campsites, the crowd has not forgotten its favourite son, Michael Schumacher and the seven times world champion will be here this weekend, which seemed to please Massa. “It’s always nice to be here with Michael,” admitted Felipe. “I enjoy his company and he is an important component within the team so hopefully we can put on a good performance and secure a great result at his home race.”

 

Massa costructive and optimistic

July 16, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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I haven't yet forgotten Silverstone, although it was a weekend to be put in the files as soon as possible: but weekends like that are part of racing. The goal is very simple now: concentrating on the future, which means the second half of the season. As I've said before, there's still a long way to go: everything can happen and the Championship is wide open. It' true that we lost precious points, which were in our reach, but we're still in a good position: I'm leading in the standings together with Kimi and Hamilton and the Team has a good advantage in the Constructors' Championship. So you can't say that things are going too badly, quite the opposite! After Silverstone the Team at Maranello worked a lot on many different aspects, such as improving the procedures at the track. I won't give you any details, because this is confidential information. But we know that we have to act to assure that certain mistakes won't happen again: this has to be one of our goals as of now until Brazil. I'm not worried about the critique after the British GP. I've had lots before and it has never affected me, because I know what I have to and what I want to do. The opinion of people from outside the Team don't count for much, especially when they say one day you're a phenomenon and the next they say you're a failure: I don't let it influence me in either case. After the race I took some days off, before I took over from Kimi on the last day of tests at Hockenheim. The weather conditions were perfect, for once with summerly temperatures and I think things went well. We drove many laps with the F2008, which was set up very well with both types of tyres on the short and on the long run. We know that we have a good car, very competitive, but we haven't used its full potential at the last race, mainly because it was a race under very special conditions. The test results are very incouraging for the upcoming weekend. We haven't been racing at Hockenheim since 2006: back then I came in second behind Michael. I like this track, although I've never raced on the old one with its long straights. I had some pretty good races there and in 2006 I was really fast: I hope that I'll be in the same position and maybe even make a step forward in the final result. There are some parts, which remind of Magny-Cours and there's always a great atmosphere, especially at the Motodrom, where you can feel the fans really close from inside the car. Now that there's only one race in Germany, it is a very important event for Formula 1 in general and, even if Michael won't be here for the first time, I'm sure that there will be lots of fans and we'll have fun. I'm sure Michael will be at the Ferrari box, although not for driving... I felt fine over the last days with my family at home in Monaco, but now I can't wait to race again and start the second hard and exciting half of the Championship the best way possible.

 

"Massa ready to face the rivals"

July 2, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Having spent a few days at home after Silverstone testing, I am now preparing to head back to England for the British Grand Prix and the chance to face our closest rivals on their home circuit in front of their home crowd. Although I have to say, I have always noticed that Ferrari seems to be very popular with the crowds here.I like Silverstone which has been a good circuit for me, but I hope I don't have to have such a tough race as I did last year: I had a problem in qualifying, started from the back and had to work my way all through the field to finish fifth in the end. Last to fifth was not bad, but I would prefer to start from the front and stay there, rather than have to fight my way through the field. In fact, an F1 magazine has just done a survey that shows I did more overtaking than any other driver in F1 last year. In fact, I think I am right in saying that I was also the guy with the most overtaking moves in 2007. This year, I think that is also the case, especially if you look at how many cars I passed in Canada. That is part of my driving style, which is a bit aggressive. It's not so easy and to be honest I would prefer not to do any overtaking because I am in the lead, so this statistic can be seen as a negative as it means I need to overtake. We tested some new components and trying new things on set up and mechanical improvements. I was quite happy with it.Although I like the fast and flowing nature of this circuit, apart from the final section, last year's fifth place was a repeat of my finishing position in 2006 and they are my best results at this event, so there is plenty of potential to finally do something better this time. I am sure we will be competitive in the race. At last week's test, we tried some new components and assessed new things on set up and made some mechanical improvements. I was quite happy with the balance of the F2008, so it's looking good.  But we must never underestimate our competitors because they are working very hard and it's all very close. I think in France, we never really saw the pace of the McLarens as they were always stuck in traffic, having started behind. So we cannot say we were so much stronger than them in Magny-Cours. Silverstone can throw up a few surprises and even if we don't have typical English rain, there can still be strong side winds even in warm dry weather and this means you have to be careful as the wind can catch you out and destabilise the car through some of the quick sections. But this is the same for everyone, so there is no reason to think I cannot have another good race weekend and finally make it onto the Silverstone podium on Sunday.

 

"After success, waiting for Silverstone"

June 27, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Two years ago, I started from pole in Magny-Cours with Kimi alongside me and at the end of the race, he was in front of me. This year, the situation was completely reversed although I am the first to admit that I would not have beaten Kimi in a straight fight last Sunday. But for the team it was a really great result in that we started with an all-Ferrari front row, we took maximum points in the race and Kimi set the fastest race lap. And Saturday’s result means the Scuderia now has two hundred pole positions to its name.  Although we had been closely matched all the weekend, on race day I was not so comfortable with my car. I was not very happy with the balance of the F2008 and I think that was the only reason Kimi managed to run at a much stronger pace than me until he had his problem. I had been very happy with the balance for most of the weekend, until we got to the final part of qualifying when we put the fuel for the race start in the car. I had a lot of fuel for the first stint of the race and I found myself struggling with the balance. That went into the race and I was missing a couple of tenths per lap. It’s nothing new where, in the same car and the same team, one driver is one hundred percent happy with it and the other driver is slightly less so, maybe 90%, but that missing 10% can make a big difference.It’s nice to be leading the championship and to see your name at the top of the sheet, but to be honest, it means little at the moment and I have to concentrate on other things. There is still a very long way to go and being the leader changes nothing for me. I prefer to concentrate on my job and look at the testing and each race as it comes. Only after all the races will we see if we did everything right. Sure, it’s good to be first and to come to the next race, leading the series and having won the last race. It gives you a boost, but that only lasts until it’s time to start practice again.I have had a particularly busy time at the moment, as immediately after Magny-Cours I headed for England and the Silverstone test.  I drove the first two days and Kimi drove the last one. I am used to it now, but this event can be a real shock as there are more guests and fans in the paddock than there are during the race weekend. As for the test itself, I was quite happy with the car and the work we did. The balance of the F2008 was good and I felt comfortable in the car. We had some good results in terms of set-up and got through our whole programme. To be honest, I need to have some rest now. If you remember I had a problem with my neck in Magny-Cours and then picked up a cold bug and had to do two days of testing with some sort of influenza and now I am completely tired. I need to relax and concentrate on the next race. My neck is fine after some treatment but now I have this ‘flu. But I am sure I will be fine by next week.

 

"The French circuit suits the characteristics of our car"

June 18, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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I am flying from Sao Paolo where have I been since the Canadian Grand Prix to Europe and the last thing I did before heading for the airport to fly to France is watching the France - Italy game in Euro 2008. I have enjoyed watching a few of the games while I have been here with my family. As for the actual championship, I would be happy if Portugal wins, but I think Holland has a great team. As usual when I come here I have a quiet time with family and friends. When I go out in Sao Paolo, I am recognised wherever I go, but that is not a bad thing, because the people here are really nice and give me my personal space. Okay, if I go in a really public place like a shopping mall or to a football game, it can get a bit difficult, but in normal restaurants or other places I go, I never have any problem. People come and ask me for an autograph or to have their picture taken with me and that's really nice. I was not at the last test that Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro carried out in Barcelona last week, but of course I was in touch with my engineers to find out how things had gone and the results seem reasonably positive. We had three good days there and that means I am expecting to have a really competitive car for Magny-Cours. It is a nice track that usually suits the characteristics of our car. In recent years, people would say that Canada and Monaco suited McLaren better than Ferrari, while it was the other way round in France and Britain, but I don't think that is really the case this year, as apart from any other factors, we have to consider the BMW team in this equation. This year in Monaco Ferrari had the whole front row of the grid, even though I think we had more fuel than McLaren and in Canada our race pace was very good too. In other races we have all been very close. But I hope we will be very competitive this weekend. I like Magny-Cours: I came second here last year, having started from pole, but then I lost a bit of time in traffic and I also came third in 2006. It's a good track for me. Let's hope we can repeat last year's one-two finish, but maybe in a different order!

 

A race ruined, but precious points gained

June 13, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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I am back home in Sao Paolo at the moment, as I am not scheduled to drive in this week's test session. As you can imagine it was a rather frustrating weekend in Montreal, even if a few points for fifth place might prove very useful when it is time to add up the final scores, when the championship finally reaches my home city in November. The weekend had started well and we looked strong on Friday, even if the McLarens were quicker, because I think we had been carrying more fuel and we seemed in pretty good shape. On Saturday morning the situation was the same, but then in qualifying, the track conditions changed completely and I was surprised that especially at Turn 10, I was losing around a second. It seemed to also affect Kimi and some other drivers. On Sunday, in the race we were competitive again. But unfortunately, my race was ruined when we had a problem with the valve on the refuelling rig as we all came into pit lane under the Safety Car. It worked fine for Kimi, but in my case, not a single litre of fuel went in the car. I guess in a way it was lucky that it happened under the Safety Car, as it meant I had come in to refuel earlier than planned. If the refuelling problem had happened under normal circumstances, I would have run out of fuel and been left parked out on track. It was a real shame because we threw away many points because of that, especially when you saw what happened to Kimi, Lewis and Nico in pit lane. It's strange that it seems to be Canada where these red light problems happen, even if mine last year was rather different. I'm not sure what happened exactly with Lewis and Kimi, because it was strange the way the incident happened. I can only think Lewis was maybe looking at something on the steering wheel, or changing some settings, because the pit lane was clearly blocked by two cars that were stopped, whereas last year, in my case I was the first car to leave the pits which means it is easier not to notice the lights. As for the rest of the race, I was very happy with it in terms of mine and the car's performance and the pit stop was the only reason to be unhappy, as we lost some possible championship points. But my race pace was very good and I had some fun overtaking other cars, the best being when I went past Rubens and Heikki at the same time at the hairpin. I was a bit further back from them, but then I saw Heikki trying to pass Rubens. I knew that corner was rather dirty off the racing line and when I saw them both go into the corner together I thought to myself that one of them would probably end up on the dirty line which would give me a chance to get by at least one of them to move up a place. Then I saw they were still fighting one another and I went for a better inside line and I was able to get both of them, pushing Heikki a bit more off the ideal line which meant I got even better acceleration out of the turn and that was it - two places gained in one move!If the Canadian result was not the best for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, in terms of the excitement in the Drivers' championship, last weekend's race has certainly added to the interest for the race fans as the top of the points table is very close now. This helps make the next few races even more exciting. Talking of excitement, while we were in Montreal, some of the Ferrari team, including Kimi, went to the famous Montreal ice hockey stadium for a bit of a game, but I have to say I gave it a miss. I don't really understand what ice hockey is about as, in case you haven't noticed, it's a bit hot in Brazil to play this game and I much prefer football. So, while I'm home here in Sao Paolo, until I leave for France this coming Monday, I've been enjoying watching the Euro 2008 championships on TV.

 

Massa: "I like the Canadian circuit"

June 3, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Maranello, 3rd June 2008 - Over a week after finishing third in Monaco, I am home in Brazil and with hindsight can see all the positive aspects of that race, which given that I started  it from pole, could be seen as disappointing. But the most positive element to come out of it is that we proved that the Ferrari F2008 was definitely  competitive there; the first time that has been the case for a few years now. Before going to Monaco, we could not be completely certain how the race would  go after the disappointments of the last two years. While the facts show just one third place, it's entirely believable to say we could have won on the  street circuit if the race had been run in normal conditions. I'm not saying we would have won easily, but victory would have been the logical conclusion to  the weekend. In the end, we lost in what turned out to be a crazy race, given that we started from first and second on the grid with the best possible  strategy. It's clear we are up against two very strong opponents in McLaren and, even if they have not actually won a race yet, BMW. It's all getting very close and  exciting and shows you need to pick up points in every race. So the six points we got in Monaco is not enough, but it's not bad and the fight for both  championships is still very open. Soon, I will be leaving home here in Sao Paolo where I have enjoyed a few days with my family and friends and heading off to Montreal. Based on what I've  just said about Monaco, we can be optimistic about turning this event, which also has not gone too well for us in the past, into a successful weekend. At  first sight, the twisty Monaco street circuit and the Montreal track have little in common but in fact, there are plenty of similarities. To start with, they  both have a low grip surface that is usually very green and dirty at the start of the weekend. Like Monaco, we use very soft tyres there and also like  Monaco, you need a car with good traction and stability; a very efficient car with good mechanical grip. I like the Canadian circuit and I went well there earlier in my career, finishing fourth for Sauber in 2005. Last year was not so good, as I had that  incident with the traffic light at the end of pit lane, and it was not a nice feeling leaving Canada having been black flagged during the race. It's an  interesting track and all the teams will be in the same position of having had our "Montreal track" test day at the Ricard track wiped out by rain in the  pre-Monaco test. I love the city and the atmosphere and I am looking forward to having a nice time there both on and off the track. There is plenty of  support for Ferrari in this city and we also have a round of a Ferrari one-make series as a support race. It's nice to see a field of Ferrari road cars  charging around a race track! I've got hardly any experience of racing anything with a roof, although I competed in two Super Touring races for Alfa Romeo  back in 2001. In one race I crashed, but in the second one, I finished fifth and did what I had been brought in to do, namely help my team mate win the  championship. It was good fun, as first time out, I qualified in front of my team-mates! Qualifying in front of the nineteen other cars in the field on  Saturday afternoon would also be a good start to this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix.

 

Massa: "It will not be an easy race"

May 28, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Maranello, 20th May 2008 - In a couple of days, I'll be on track for the first practice of the Monaco Grand Prix. I have to say I am looking forward to that, because my testing at the Paul Ricard circuit last week did not go particularly well as heavy rain affected my day of running. I was supposed to be working on the Montreal settings for the F2008, but I only managed three laps in the dry on old tyres before it began to rain. I did 15 laps in the wet, but it was very difficult to do anything meaningful. But at least the team got the two days before that running in Monaco configuration with Kimi and the results look reasonable. It will not be an easy race this weekend and we can expect McLaren to be strong as usual, although I think we can be on the pace too. But we have to wait and see what happens on Thursday because it is difficult to say what we can expect from ourselves and the opposition. Even if we ran on the short track at Ricard, designed to simulate some aspects of Monaco, it still is not the real thing. Monaco is unique and impossible to recreate exactly the same track characteristics, so there are some unknown factors going into the weekend. In general, I think the Scuderia is in better shape than it was before this race twelve months ago. I hope so as well! But you never know. Last year, even though I finished on the podium in third place, it was not what I would consider a good race because we were a long way off the pace of the McLaren, so I am looking forward to being stronger this year. One unknown as usual is the weather and the forecast is predicting rain at various times over the race weekend. Rain at Monaco makes it a big big lottery and it is impossible to predict anything and without any electronic driver aids such as traction control, it will be even harder. I have to admit that this is not one of my favourite circuits. In terms of driving pleasure, I prefer the fast flowing places like Turkey, Bahrain and Barcelona for example. But that does not mean we cannot be strong here. We will prepare as well as possible and try and bring home as many points as possible. You always find tracks you like more than others, but this does not mean you cannot be competitive at those you are not so keen on. One thing I really do like about Monaco is that I can stay at home every night. It is really good and as I live quite close to the track it does not take me long to get to the pits in the morning. I really enjoy returning home, which makes a pleasant change from all the hotels we stay in throughout the year.

 

Massa: "something special between you and a circuit"

May 28, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Maranello, 14th May - A Turkish hat trick! That was a weekend to remember for a very long time. When you win three times in a row, it says something is special between you and a circuit. I always feel very comfortable and very strong at this circuit and it is a track where I can be one of the quickest all the time, but I have also won twice in Bahrain, I won in Barcelona and Brazil and I want to win at other tracks as well. For sure, I had a great car last weekend and I think the team did a great job and so did I. It's a very special place to be and to keep winning at. Apart from my wife, I also had my father and mother with me in Istanbul, which is great, because I take a lot of strength from them and of course it was fantastic to have them with me to celebrate the victory. But one amusing story some friends told me is that the TV cameras would often focus on my parents in the Ferrari garage and this did not please them as they prefer to watch the race. Okay, but please understand that what the TV producer shows is not my decision! There was one special event I was happy to attend at the Istanbul circuit and that was a reception for Rubens Barrichello to celebrate the fact that at the Turkish Grand Prix, he broke Ricardo Patrese's record for having competed in the most F1 Grands Prix, as this was Rubens' 257th start. Do I want to beat that record? It seems like a big challenge. It's true that I love racing and as long as that is the case I will continue to do it and it won't matter if I am 27 or 37. As long as I am competitive as a driver, I will race. If I am not then I will stop, because I am not in this sport just to be in Formula 1, I am here because I want to win. As long as I feel physically fit and competitive and as long as a team gives me the opportunity then I will race. But if I have any doubts, I will stop and I don't really think I will keep going long enough to beat that record. Also, these days there are so many very young drivers in F1 that I think it would be quite easy for some of those who have come into the sport in the last couple of years to reach this total without even being very old. Anyway, after the win, I stayed in Istanbul, going to a nice nightclub in the city. It was a good fun night. I like Istanbul and it was especially nice to be out enjoying myself with Turkish people, having won the Turkish GP three times. Now I am back home in Monaco, but come the end of the week, I take the short drive down the French coast to Le Castellet as I am testing at the Paul Ricard circuit on Friday.

 

Massa thinking about the hat-trick in Turkey

May 28, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Maranello, 7th May 2008 - With no testing since the last race, I have enjoyed a quiet time at home in Monaco, although as usual, I have had plenty of contact with the factory in Maranello and I have also been going through my daily training programme. Now it's time to head for Istanbul and the fifth round of the championship, at a circuit which is obviously a bit special for me. Why? Because, it was here in 2006 that I scored my first ever Formula 1 victory and then I repeated myself last year, on both occasions starting from pole. Apart from these two reasons to look forward to the weekend, I have to say that Istanbul Park is a fantastic track and I enjoy driving there a lot. I think we have a good car in the F2008 and I feel it can be quite strong this coming weekend. There is every reason to think we can fight for the win. Like my home circuit in Sao Paulo, the Istanbul track runs anti-clockwise and in many other ways it is a special circuit. It has some quick corners like Turn 8 and some medium speed corners, but you also have a very tricky final sector which is quite slow where you need plenty of downforce. So you need to find the right combination of speed and downforce. By far the best corner is Turn 8, which seems to go on forever. It is very challenging for the drivers and very nice to drive through when you get it right. It is really fun from a driving point of view. I have mentioned aerodynamic downforce, but with the slow speed sections, it means that your car must also be efficient in terms of delivering mechanical grip. You also need good traction and a well balanced car, which is why finding the right compromise during free practice on Friday is so important for the rest of the weekend. Because of those long corners, tyres can have a hard time, especially on the right front, but since Bridgestone became the sole supplier, this situation has eased a bit as they bring a harder tyre than if they were competing against another manufacturer. We will have cooler temperatures this year, as the race is much earlier in the calendar, but I don't expect this to produce any unexpected situations. Turn 12, the hairpin after the long straight is the best passing opportunity and the long back straight helps also, but it is still difficult to get past another car. There are a few more opportunities here than at some other circuits. This track is not very hard on engines and for the engine in my F2008, this will be its second race, while the gearbox will also be doing the last of its four races. This should not be a concern, as the rules in any case allow for several of the components, such as the ratios to be changed when necessary. You do not need to be a mind-reader to work out what is my target for this weekend: I want to record a hat-trick of Turkish victories! It might be possible, but you can never be sure. At the last race, starting third on the grid, I was unable to win on a track where overtaking is very difficult. At the moment, I am enjoying a tough competition with Kimi and my second place in Spain was still a good result. But I will be trying everything to go one better this Sunday!

 

Massa: Post-Spanish Grand Prix

May 28, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Maranello, 2nd May - Looking back at the Spanish Grand Prix, a few days after the event, I think that what I said in the conference after the race is still the best way to sum up what was a good and positive weekend - 'you can't win all the races.' What is equally true is that, at the moment, qualifying on Saturday afternoon is of absolute prime importance. If you look at Qualifying in Barcelona, I was pretty strong and I was able to fight for pole and I did. But unfortunately, on my last attempt on new tyres I was unable to put together the perfect lap. That meant I started third and for sure, that made things immediately get more difficult for Sunday. I was aware that Fernando could have been a bit of a pain to deal with in the race, but I managed to get a very good start, which meant I got past him with a really good move. In the first part of the race, it was not so difficult to pull out a gap on those behind us, but after the Safety Car, of course the field was all bunched up together again, which made our life a little bit more difficult. It was at this stage of the race that our good strategies and our pace paid off and allowed me to rebuild the gap to Lewis and also to Robert. But by then, second place was looking the best I could expect and in some ways that was down to what happened on Saturday afternoon. I was very pleased to hear that Heikki was okay after his accident. For sure, if you have a failure on the car, there is nothing you can do as a driver. Given how hard the impact was and the fact that he escaped injury means the track safety features were generally the way they should be. And the car stood up very well too. The only unusual feature was that the car went under and through the tyre barrier and so did his head. That is a bit scary and I think the FIA should look into the construction of the whole barrier system. One other element of the race weekend that the FIA could look at is the new rule about the pit lane remaining closed for some laps under Safety Car conditions. In Spain, this caught out Heidfeld, who had to pit as he would otherwise have run out of fuel and so, through no real fault of his own he got a stop-go penalty. As you can imagine, its frustrating for a driver to see his race ruined by circumstances totally beyond his control. I think it should be possible to improve the current rule while maintaining the same level of safety. We have spoken about it in the Drivers Briefing and we will continue to discuss it with those responsible.

 

Massa: "We have established a good base line for the race weekend"

May 28, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Maranello, 23rd April 2008 - After winning in Bahrain and then spending a few days holiday with my wife and parents in Dubai, I returned home to Monaco and I have to say that after such a busy start to the season, it felt good to be back home and to be able to stay there for a while. Of course I headed for Spain in the middle of it all where I had two worthwhile days of testing in Barcelona, the first two days of the four day session. On the first day, the track was actually very dirty, so I didn't do so many laps in the morning, but by the afternoon we did quite a lot. We concentrated on running the slick tyres, similar to those we will have next year, just to get a feel for how they work. It was pretty interesting as it was the first time in my career that I had driven a Formula 1 car on slicks. Later in the week, the team adapted the car to have less downforce when running these tyres, but when I had a go it was basically this year's car with no changes and it was quite incredible as the car had a lot of downforce so the lap times were also very impressive. It felt like I was driving a completely new car as you need to be a lot more aggressive in your driving style, as the grip level was much higher than usual. From a driving point of view it was really amazing and it was a great pleasure to get the maximum out of the performance of the car, making the most of the aerodynamic and mechanical grip and setting some incredible lap times. I also did some laps with these tyres when they had not been warmed in the usual way. At the moment, there is a suggestion that next year, we would not be allowed to use our tyre warmers - those blankets you see wrapped around the tyres when we sit in the garage or on the grid. In terms of performance, but also more importantly, safety, the tyres were of course at their best if they had been in the blankets. When I tried them without it was very difficult to drive on the "out" lap, even though it was not a particularly cold day. So never mind the performance element, I think the blankets are mainly important from the safety point of view. As for this weekend and the race in Barcelona, it will be as tough as any other, even if I think we can be very competitive if we do our best at all times. But everything can change quickly, not just from one race to the next, but even in terms of how the car feels at this circuit from last week's test to this week's race weekend. Last year I won here what was, to be honest, an amazing race and for me it is difficult to forget! I remember being very very close to Alonso in qualifying and he was in a very determined mood as he was at his home race and in a competitive car. It was a tough competition between us. I made a very good start and maintained the advantage through the first corner where Alonso tried everything he knew to pass me. That start was really his only chance to get by because we had a very good strategy. We had a bit of a moment next to one another in the first corner, but I had the inside line and managed to stay in front. I had a very good pace in the race and from then on it was not so difficult to control the pace.

 

The win came at just the right time

April 8, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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I am in Dubai at the moment, having a few days break with my parents and my wife, which is the perfect way to relax after my win in Bahrain on Sunday. It was a nice feeling to win, especially after my bad start to the season. The win came at just the right time and getting my name on the scoreboard at last. It was also nice to be able to claim the one hundredth win which Ferrari has achieved since Luca di Montezemolo has been President. For the team also it was a perfect weekend as Kimi came second to give us maximum points. I was not any more nervous than usual before the start on Sunday. We know the job we have to do and I was not affected by all the comments in the media about me. I knew I was sitting in the cockpit of a good car and would have a good pace, so I was calm and ready to do everything right. My start went very well as I was able to pass Robert immediately. But even if that had not happened I would not have had much to worry about. If you looked at Robert’s lap times in Q2 and then Q3 in qualifying on Saturday, it was clear that he was running fairly light in terms of fuel, or at least lighter than us. I knew I would have around five laps more fuel than him which means I was confident I could have got past him at the first refuelling. But thanks to a good start, even this wasn’t necessary. So I was never really racing Kubica, as I knew we had a better car and a better strategy. As usual during the grand prix, my race engineer Rob Smedley was on the radio to me all the time, every lap explaining to me how the race is unfolding, giving me the gaps to the car behind and some other drivers’ lap times. In Bahrain, he was absolutely spot on when he told immediately about the oil on the track on lap 2, which definitely helped me a lot, as he does at every race in fact. One thing that is clear after the three races we have had so far, is that BMW has really made a step forward. But at the moment, it is hard to tell if they might be able to help us by taking points from McLaren or if they now have to be seen as genuine title contenders in their own right. It seems that at the moment McLaren and BMW are at the same level and we will have to watch both of them closely. It can go either way, in that sometimes this situation might help and sometimes it might not. Let’s wait and see what happens in the next race. However, our own focus has to be on ourselves and on our car; improving it all the time and that will bring its own rewards. Looking at the championship after three races, I can’t say there is anything in particular that has surprised me, but as I said earlier, it is clear now that BMW-Sauber has made a step forward. Maybe McLaren is looking a little bit less consistent than last year, when they made life very difficult by scoring a lot of points in the first three races. This year that has not been the case, which is good for us, because although we have not picked up as many points as we could, neither have they. That can be  positive as long as we work hard to deliver consistent results. I am here in Dubai until Thursday when my wife and I return to Monaco and my parents go back home to Brazil. Then, next week, testing starts again for everyone and we will be in Barcelona, where I am testing for the first two days of the four day session.

 

I have been in Bahrain for a few days now..

April 3, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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I have been in Bahrain for a few days now, coming here after a short time at home in Brazil. So far, everything is fine, as you would expect as we have not started work yet! The weather is so much nicer than Malaysia and in fact I think it is also a bit cooler than we have experienced here in the past. At the track, after saying hello to all the guys, it was time for my usual meeting with the media. Today, they really seemed to expect me to be in a bad way because of my two bad results so far this season and I had to really spell it out to them that this is not the case! It will not change my mood, it will not change my work, it will not change my speed, it will not change anything. I am not the sort of guy who looks at what happened in the past and starts crying! The clock goes forwards not backwards so now we need to think about this race. The important thing is that we have a good car, a good team and I am looking forward to having a great result here. The only way to be happy is to have a good result, score a lot of points and this is my target for the weekend. I have good support from the team always and they are not changing their attitude to me just because of these two bad results. I am not new to F1 and I have experienced worse times than this and I can deal with the situation. Of course, I think about the fact I won here last year and I do like this track. I also like the next few tracks. But we cannot say that just because I won last year, I will do it again this Sunday. I am not struggling with the cars in 2008 configuration. I am getting on fine with the car, it is just that I have had two bad results. These things can happen, but inside myself, I know what I’m doing and I know what I have to do to be quick in the car and to be fast and consistent. In Malaysia, I did start from pole and did some good laps, it was just in the end the result did not come. Now I need a solid weekend and a good result. I think it is difficult to say if we have an advantage from having tested here at Sakhir in the winter. But we feel comfortable at this track which is a very quick one. I lost opportunities to score points in the first two races, but that does not mean it is over for the year. We still have another sixteen races to go and we know things can change very quickly in Formula 1. I still have the will to win and there are plenty more opportunities to do that. The time has come to turn the page. So, what can we expect this weekend? The wind can always make life difficult here in the desert, but the sand is not a problem because, as long as you clean the track on the first day, it improves over the final two days, but the difficulties are the same for everyone. I think it is very nice to be here in Bahrain and the circuit is one of the best. BMW did a great race in Malaysia, but we must not forget that the two McLarens had a penalty that moved them further back down the grid. So we have to keep our eyes on both these teams and not forget some of the others either.

 

Massa: "We must work hard over the next few days"

March 12, 2008 · Posted by staffFerrari
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After all our winter testing, the serious business of racing starts again and I cannot wait for Sunday afternoon to come here in Albert Park. I only arrived in Melbourne on Tuesday, having spend some time at home in Brazil. My life there is the same as ever and I suppose the main change in my life since the end of last year is that I am now a married man. In the best possible way, it has not changed our life together very much! Overall, winter testing went pretty well and I was happy with the car right from the very start through to the end as the various new developments came on stream over the winter months. Of course, we need to keep working but the team has done a good job and we put in a very high mileage. On the reliability front it is difficult to say exactly what might happen, but on this point we are definitely in better shape than we were at the start of ’07. Now, with the racing starting, we will see where we stand and if and in which areas we need to improve. What we are certain of is that we are starting from a good base line. I have not been so lucky at this circuit in the past, failing to complete the first lap two years ago and then last year I had a problem in qualifying. Sure, it is important to make a good start to the season, but the sport is so competitive, you also need to have a good middle and a good end! Hopefully this weekend will go better than the last two in Australia. You know, when there are two teams that are very close and competitive, which I think is the situation again this year, then every single point counts race by race. The start of the season is always exciting, even if now with a bit of experience, it is slightly less than when I first started racing as I have a better idea what to expect. It is not just the fact it is the first race that brings this excitement but the fact you finally get to see who was really doing what in winter testing and if your assessment and predictions were correct. Now we have to wait and see and work hard over the next few days.

 

In Formula 1 everyone is very lucky

October 12, 2007 · Posted by staffFerrari
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“I am in Sao Paulo, after coming straight here from Shanghai after the Chinese Grand Prix. Now every thing is focussed on the build up to my home race and on Wednesday, I took part in an event here for UNICEF, in my new role as an Ambassador for UNICEF here in Brazil. I took part in a go-kart race with a lot of children from poor backgrounds. It was a very nice day, with some media in attendance to generate some interest in UNICEF’s work here. It will be interesting for me in the future to try and give some help to the large numbers of poor here in Brazil. In Formula 1, everyone is very lucky to have a good life, to have had a good education and to be involved in something we enjoy and to have the opportunity to try and make a success of one’s life. However, if you see the problems some people have, it brings home the importance of doing something about it. It only needs you to do very little to help a lot of people. “As for the racing, obviously the last two grands prix in Japan and China were not so great for me and after the first of those two races, I accepted the fact that I could no longer be in contention for the Drivers’ title, having to leave the fight to the three guys I have been battling with all year long.  One aspect that has become ever clearer with every passing race is that qualifying and especially the ability to get a position on the front row of the grid is the most important key to the win this year with everything being so closely matched. In the end, neither of those two races produced a nice result, but in the difficult conditions in which they were run, it is always going to be tough with an element of luck playing its part. “Now, my focus is on the seventeenth and last race of the championship. If you look at all the elements of my season, the pace I showed, the results I obtained, the wins, then the overall outcome was a positive one, even without the title. Now, I say to myself let’s try and finish the championship in a fantastic way. The fact I will not be fighting for the title does not really change anything for me about my home race. It is a very important race for me on a personal level and we need to do the best we can to win, as I do in every race. “At Interlagos, I will be trying to win the race. For sure, Kimi still has a chance of winning the championship, even if it is a small one and it will be difficult. My personal target is victory, but if we see any possibility of helping the team to win the Driver’s title, then of course I will be doing what I can. But this is not the way to approach the race weekend. The best way to approach it is to do what I have done at every race which is to think in terms of winning the race. If the miracle happens and maybe both McLarens are nowhere, then me and Kimi could finish first and second respectively and still give Ferrari the result it wants. There are so many possible permutations of what could happen that it is not worth thinking about all of them now.

 

Impossible is not a word I like to use

September 12, 2007 · Posted by staffFerrari
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I have nothing much more to say about what happened in Monza, except to repeat how disappointed I was. To do just a handful of laps in Ferrari’s home grand prix and at such a critical stage in the championship was not a good feeling. Impossible is not a word I like to use, but in terms of the Drivers’ championship, if it is not impossible for me to win it, it is certainly looking very difficult indeed. I never give up and I will keep trying but making up a difference of 23 points to Hamilton would not be easy.   “If the championship now only seems a remote possibility I don’t think it will change my approach to the races that are still left. It is not as though I will find it easier to race hard if I tell myself there is nothing to lose, because this season, I have won races when I have been under a lot of pressure, so being relaxed is not something that would make a difference. Between now and the end of the year, I just want to get as many victories as possible all the way to the last race.   “Now, we head off to Spa for the first time in two years, although we actually had a test session there back in July, which gave us the opportunity to get to know it again and also to see the modifications. Spa-Francorchamps is a fantastic circuit. I have always liked going there and I reckon our car should be competitive enough to fight for the win.  The track is very interesting. Some corners, such as Eau Rouge, are now relatively easy to take flat out, which was not the case going back to the days of the V10 engine. With the current V8s it is much easier to take this flat out, so it is not quite as challenging as in the past. But the overall layout is very nice, with many quick corners and rapid changes of direction, all of which are features I like.   “One thing I noticed at the test is that the new pit lane entry is not at all well thought out. There is a high wall alongside it which obscures visibility and the entrance is very narrow, so if anyone stops there, no one else will get past. Doing a simple pit lane entrance should have been easy, but they seem to have taken the complicated route! At the moment, even though the weather in this part of the world is always unpredictable, the forecast is for a dry weekend. I think we should be competitive if it rained, but looking at the fact that our closest rivals are quite competitive in situations where grip levels are low, maybe it is better for us if it stays dry.   “Thursday, the day we all arrive at the track, everyone will be waiting for news from the World Council meeting in Paris, so I am sure there will be a lot of questions aimed at us drivers and the team bosses. Within the team we have not discussed this situation. The important thing is that whatever is right and fair must be done, but I am concentrating on my job on the track. I don’t want to get involved with the off-track situation.”

 

Victory on its own is not enough

August 29, 2007 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Dear friends,Turkey was in every way a good result and as I said on Sunday night after the race, the Istanbul track is becoming a good place for me and definitely something special after two consecutive wins and two pole positions: special can be the only word. And from a team point of view, it was the best possible result, as we secured maximum points with a one-two finish.   “It is particularly good to have these Turkish successes as part of my F1 record, because I think this track is highly regarded from a driving point of view. I feel that the track is comparable to Spa and to Suzuka, in other words it is a “real” drivers circuit.  I also like Spa and Suzuka. Last year in Japan I was on pole and was going well until I had a puncture and, in the past, I also had some very good results in Spa. I like these kinds of circuits and really perform well at them.   “In Turkey, Saturday’s qualifying was also very good. I got a great lap in which I got the most out of the car, especially when you consider I was not at all on an aggressive strategy in terms of fuel load. In the race my car was much better on the hard Bridgestone tyres, but importantly, it was still good on the softer rubber. During the race, I felt pretty much okay physically, even though it was very hot, with no particular problems right the way through to the end of the event. As for concentration, I had no time to relax as there was someone right behind me, pushing hard for the whole race, lap after lap. That meant I had to push hard also and when you do that, you can end up making a mistake and that’s what happened when I did make a slight error in the final stint. I had to concentrate and push hard every lap.   “At the moment, all four of us at the top of the Drivers’ championship have each won three races and it is quite possible that at the end of the season, I might have won more races than the others and still not be champion and it is also true for the other three drivers. We know that victory on its own is not enough and we have to be consistent throughout the year which has not always been the case for us this season. But we still have five races to go.   “It was nice to have my father in Istanbul and he was very happy at the end of the Sunday afternoon. He has followed my career from the very beginning and when I have a bad day, it is a bad day for him, when I have a great day it is also a great day for him as well. It was nice to see him enjoying this victory. On Sunday night, we had a small party in Istanbul to celebrate.   “When you win, it always brings an important boost. After I won in Turkey last year, I know I improved a lot mentally. Now we just need to keep improving, to keep pushing hard and this win has certainly made me even more committed to do that over the last few races. Before the next race, I am doing just one day’s testing at Monza and then we will have Ferrari’s home race at the same track the following weekend. It will be a very important moment in the championship.”  

 

I hope we end the season in style

August 21, 2007 · Posted by staffFerrari
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The summer break is nearly over and although I’ve had a great time, I am really looking forward to going racing again, starting with Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix. Of course there is the serious side of trying to win the championships, but I have to say I am also looking forward to the enjoyment of driving a Formula 1 car again. I am in Miami now, having come here from Brazil last Thursday and I will be leaving for Turkey on Tuesday. I’ve had a long weekend here relaxing enjoying the warm climate and doing the usual holiday things, going to the beach. I say relaxing, but I have of course had to think about my fitness and every day, I have been doing a work-out to make sure I stay fit and do not lose condition before the final races of the year. Miami is a popular place for Brazilians, but I have not seen so many this time as August is just a normal working month back home: one month earlier and this place would have been full of Brazilians! I am looking forward to Turkey, which will always have a special significance for me, as it was in Istanbul last year that I got my first ever Grand Prix victory. It is still fresh in my mind and it is a great memory and a nice feeling to be carrying back with me to this year’s race. It was a great victory for me. I love the track and the city and I really hope to repeat the great result from last year, when I was very strong all weekend, starting from pole position and winning on Sunday. I hope we can do it again.  Istanbul Park is a really great track and everyone talks about Turn 8, which is definitely one of the best corners of the season. I like this corner, and it is really challenging. To be quick at this point on the track, your entry has to be perfect and then you have to make sure you make no mistakes all the way through the middle and then the exit. It is a tricky corner to get right and it also plays an important part in the race itself as it is very tough physically to go round it quickly on every lap. I have been keeping in touch with my engineer back in Italy to find out how things are going. The team has had a chance to rest a bit but there has been a lot of hard work going on as well in the factory. In fact, for this race, I will have a new chassis, which is not especially significant, as it is normal for us to change chassis after a certain number of races. Turkey last year I was a first time race winner and in the space of twelve months things have changed as I am now chasing a title. As a team, we try and have a package that is competitive at every circuit, but Istanbul is the first of a series of quick tracks and I think these will suit us particularly well. Last year, from Turkey onwards I had a great championship, so that is an encouraging sign. In fact, I like the all the tracks that are coming up now, so I hope we end the season in style.

 

Some relax at last

August 10, 2007 · Posted by staffFerrari
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“At last, I am back home here in Sao Paolo after several weeks in Europe and now I am relaxing with my family, my girlfriend and friends, recharging my batteries and renewing my energy levels before the next round of the championship. “Looking back at Hungary, it was definitely a frustrating race for me, in fact I can go further and say it was actually the worst race in my whole career. Everything started from the problem on Saturday afternoon, because if I had started from the front row, which was a definite possibility, I had a very good chance of fighting for a podium finish. But anyway, Saturday’s events were not nice to live through. It was a combination of mistakes from the team and driver, which lost me the chance of having a fight on Sunday. The race itself, starting towards the back and basically staying there, without any real opportunities to pass anybody, was very frustrating. Of course, we had chosen to start with a very heavy car in terms of fuel load and that meant it was not so easy to fight. “At the start of the Budapest weekend, I was asked if it would be another situation like Monaco where we were not competitive on a slower track. For sure, it was not a good track for us, especially as could be seen in qualifying, although it was much more competitive in the race. “But all that is in the past and now we have to think about the present and the future. I trust the team and I am sure we can repeat some of the very good results we had earlier this year. Fortunately, many of the upcoming circuits will be much better suited to our package and I am sure we can win some races. It is true that some circuits did not suit us so well this year and that our main rivals have been more consistent than us in terms of performance and in fact in terms of reliability, as they had no real mechanical problems during the races. We have had some problems, which is why they are ahead of us in both championships at the moment. But we still have six races to fight back. We just need to keep working hard, but it won’t be easy to be ahead of them in every race. There is no testing now for a while, but at least that is the same for everyone and of course, the guys are working hard back in the factory. “At the moment, I am also working on the organisation side of the big go kart event we hold here at the end of November: it’s a sort of race of champions, when lots of F1 drivers come and take part and this year, even Michael Schumacher is going to come over and join us, which I am very pleased about. It is giving me a change of focus at the moment and helping me to relax. On Wednesday, I will be going to Miami for about five days to spend some time there as it’s a great place for a break and then I will head off straight to Istanbul to start the final part of the championship.”

 

We always want more!

July 16, 2007 · Posted by staffFerrari
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A week after the British Grand Prix, I’m home in Monaco enjoying some summer weather which seems to have been missing at the last couple of races. Looking back at Silverstone, some people have suggested to me it was one of my best drives and I guess they could be right, but only in one way. It might have be one of my best drives, it might have entertained the crowd but I cannot consider it one of my best races at the moment. To be honest, I enjoyed the driving and having a very good race starting from the back and ending up in a strong position. It was a very positive result, but it was also very negative because of what happened at the start. In some ways, I could not enjoy it. When I finished the race, even if I had delivered a fantastic performance, I could not be happy. It was a race where I should have been fighting for the win. When you look at the championship situation and how competitive it is this year, then when you see so many points escaping from you, it’s not possible to be happy when you look at things in terms of the championship.  During the race I could see people in the grandstand waving me on and cheering and after the race many people congratulated me. Even the team greeted me as though it was my best ever result and their reaction was even stronger than if I had won. But the feeling inside was all about the frustration at losing points.  I did not have too long to think about the disappointment, as a couple of days later, I was testing at the Spa circuit where we will return for the Belgian Grand Prix in September. We did not race there last year and I cannot say the modifications they have done to the track make a big difference. The famous “Bus Stop” chicane has gone, replaced by another one which is just a little bit different in that it goes to the other side of the track. In terms of overtaking, in my opinion, it will offer similar opportunities to the old one.  From a technical point of view, the Spa test was really good and the car seems to respond very well to changes. We managed to complete all our programme, even though there was some rain, which at least allowed us to evaluate car performance in the wet, which is always likely over the Spa race weekend. The car was good in the dry and possibly even better in the wet.   Now, I’m just relaxing at home and then on Wednesday, we go to the Nurburgring where I expect the F2007 will again be very competitive. Last year in the European Grand Prix I finished third and it was my first ever Formula 1 podium. Hopefully this time, we can be back on the podium but in a better position. I have good memories of last year, but we always want more!”

 

Luck was not on my side

July 4, 2007 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Looking back at Magny-Cours with a few days to think about it, I cannot say I am unhappy to end up second, having been in the lead for much of the race. In fact I am happy to have contributed to a Ferrari one-two, the first time I have done this with Kimi. But, I am just a little bit disappointed that I was not the one in front at the end of the race. Everything worked perfectly that afternoon, except that, at the key moment in the race I was not very lucky and last Sunday, Kimi had all the lucky points in his hands. That’s the way it goes sometimes. In qualifying he gained an extra lap being the first man out, then at the start of the race he was lucky to pass Hamilton and then he was lucky I got stuck in traffic. That is why I could not win the race, but apart from that I was quickest all weekend, taking pole position and the fastest lap in the race. Unfortunately, luck was not on my side, but I am still happy that we got a great result as a team. We need to be happy and focus on getting many more good results like this in the rest of the season.   On the subject of the traffic in the race, the biggest problem was that the cars I was trying to lap were fighting among themselves. I know that when you are in a fight of your own, you don’t want to lose any time, but I was the leader and I should have been let through. Of course, it is even more difficult when you are the leader, because you are the first to have to fight your way past the backmarkers. After I eventually got by, they would see another Ferrari in their mirrors, understand the situation and move over much quicker. If a driver is involved in his own battle, he should let me through and then start his own fight again: that is the way it is supposed to work. In France, many of the slower cars were not very correct about letting me by. For more than six laps I could see the blue flags being waved at cars in front of me and they were not really taking much notice. Now we come to Silverstone and the British Grand Prix and I think it will be very good for us. We have a car that is fantastic on this track and it was very quick all through the test we did there before the French race. I am convinced we will again have a very competitive car. Of course, we need to keep an eye on McLaren, but I think we could have a little bit of an edge over them. There is a good chance we will have to cope with a wet track this weekend and I like to drive in the rain, even though a wet track can make things a bit of a lottery. Whatever the conditions, I am sure we can be very competitive. Overtaking will again be very difficult at this circuit, almost impossible in fact, but all the same it is a great track to drive and one of the most challenging of the season for us drivers, with some very fast corners. For my driving style and my experience of quick corners, I love the challenge of Silverstone, which reminds of other great fast tracks like Spa.   For generations of Brazilian F1 drivers, the British Grand Prix was like a second home race, as the British junior series was the “school” for many of them when they first came to Europe. I am one of the few Brazilians who started their real career in Italy rather than in England and I am actually very happy to be a bit different in a way. I can show that it is not just England which can help form drivers for the top level of motor sport. I enjoyed my time in Italy, but I do like Silverstone which I think is the best track in England.  

 

Celebrating 60 Years

June 22, 2007 · Posted by staffFerrari
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It has been a busy few weeks, with Indy following on immediately from Montreal and now, I have just finished a day’s testing at Silverstone, after Kimi did the first two days, so at least I got a little bit of rest before getting back in the car.     “When you look back to Canada, maybe we were not quite as quick as the McLarens, but in the race I was ahead of Alonso and maybe I could have finished on the podium, which would have been a good result, even if it had not been possible to win. Our aim there was to get as many points as possible, even if we could not match the pace of our competitor. But what happened there, when I was basically disqualified because of missing a light, which cannot be seen as a dangerous thing, I still find hard to deal with. But let’s forget about that now.     “As for Indy, we looked slightly more competitive, if not quite on the pace of our rivals. Finishing on the podium was not a complete disaster. Looking back at the last two races, if it had not been for that problem in Montreal, then the championship would still be completely open. Now, it is still open, but not looking quite so straightforward and we have to be careful not to make any mistakes. If you look at the recent past championships, sometimes we had two weekends better than Renault and sometimes it was the other way round. The competition was very close right to the end of the season. This time, even if our rivals have been better than us over the past couple of races, I think we can fight back and that is what we have been working towards back at the factory and over the past three days at Silverstone. I think we have some good ideas for the next upcoming races, which can change the situation. But we have to ensure we make no more mistakes and it would be nice to think it is time for our rivals to make some mistakes to give us a bit of breathing space. At Silverstone, we tried a new aero package and I immediately felt it was working well and I was very happy with the balance of my F2007.

 

A special anniversary for the Villeneuve family

June 5, 2007 · Posted by staffFerrari
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After a few days at home to relax in Monte Carlo, it is time to head for Canada for these two races one weekend after the other. It is always an enjoyable part of the calendar for me. My record at the Montreal circuit is not so bad: I had a fourth place with Sauber which is not such a bad result and last year, I was fifth. Because of the location of the circuit, you could say it is something of a city track, but it’s nothing like Monaco! If you look at the speed we are doing it is much higher and although they are quite near, the guard rails are not right on the edge. What it does have in common with the last race, is that it is a circuit where you cannot afford to make mistakes as you can crash quite easily.   As it is a medium downforce track, it is important to have an efficient car here, which offers good mechanical grip as well as good aerodynamics. In other words you need a bit of a compromise and that can either work out very well or not be so good. In our case, I think the F2007 will run as a very strong package in Canada and actually, also in Indy, where Ferrari has also had good results. One difficulty in the Montreal circuit is that it is not used much so its grip level changes dramatically throughout the weekend, so you have to be careful not to chase the set up too much. It is also useful to have a car that is comfortable riding the kerbs as you have to use them here to get quick laps. It is a circuit where a good package can deliver a very good result. Another important point is that this weekend is the second race in the engine cycle and, although you can never be one hundred percent sure, I think we have an engine that is strong in terms of reliability and added to that is the fact we did not push it too hard in Monte Carlo.    This is one of the nicest places we visit: I really like the city of Montreal and the people seem very open, so I am always happy to go there. Plus, the local people love Formula 1 a lot, thanks to the Villeneuve family of course. This year is a special anniversary for them and they did a lot to promote Canada and make Formula 1 popular there. I am looking forward to seeing Jacques, with whom I have a good relationship since we were team-mates. He is a very special guy with a special character, but when you get to know him, he is a very nice guy. I was happy to work with him at Sauber and hopefully we can spend some time together this weekend.

 

I was particularly happy with my performance

May 30, 2007 · Posted by staffFerrari
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A couple of days after the race and I’m still home in Monaco where the Grand Prix can be summed up by saying that I am really happy with my personal performance over the weekend. However, we were not so happy with our car performance at this track. If you look at how McLaren started on the first day, we knew it would not be so easy to be in front of them. But we managed to limit the damage and third place is not a disaster, when you look at how close and competitive the championship battle is at the moment.   “But certainly, we cannot be a hundred percent happy with the result, given that our rivals filled the top two places. They have some elements of their package that worked better at this circuit than ours. But my personal opinion and I don’t know if it is right, is that it was not just McLaren being impressive in Monaco, it was also Ferrari being weak. If you look at the difference between McLaren and Renault in Monaco and compare it to the gap between them in Barcelona at the Spanish Grand Prix, there was not much difference. In Monte Carlo Renault’s pace was similar to ours which shows that something in our package, something related to our team, did not work at this track. What we can be sure of is that this situation will not continue, because our car is better than that, which in itself is further motivation to do well at the next race, where our car should have a good package.   “The championship is still looking good for me after these important points for third place. We have done five races, I am five points behind Fernando and Lewis and there are still twelve races to go. That’s not a big difference and I feel that everything is still a hundred percent open in the fight for the title. But we need to be ahead of them. I have won two races and Fernando has done the same and the difference as I said is five points. So consistency is what matters over the rest of the season and that is why it is always important to be on the podium. My worst result this year is a sixth place, which is actually not that bad, but you have to make sure you are always in the top three.   “Away from the racing, I did enjoy the Monaco Grand Prix with family and friends staying with me at home here, which made it a nice weekend. On top of that, we should not forget that this was my first podium finish here in Monte Carlo which is a good result in itself. For sure, when you have a very good car, a podium is not as much as people expect from you, but for me it was a good result and I was particularly happy with my performance. I just want to finish ahead of those two guys next time. Now, I’m staying here at home until next Tuesday, when I fly out to Montreal

 

A track where it is not permitted to make a mistake

May 22, 2007 · Posted by staffFerrari
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This weekend is kind of like a second home race for me, as Monaco is my European base when I am not in Brazil and so that is an extra reason to look forward to what is such a special event. It will be a very busy week with the extra day in the middle and even today (Tuesday) I have to make a quick trip to Geneva to fulfil an appearance for my sponsor, Piaggio Aero. Last week, I had a couple of days testing not far from home in Paul Ricard. I think the test went quite well for us. We were concentrating on finding a good set-up for the car when it is running the high downforce configuration that we use at Monaco. Apart from that the main thing was getting an understanding of the two types of tyre we will be using. Honestly, the tyre situation was not so easy to deal with, because over the two days I was testing, I had just a couple of sets of what Bridgestone is calling the “super-soft” and I was unlucky to be caught out in traffic on my first lap on these tyres. This was a shame, as it meant I could not exploit them properly. But we know this tyre is quicker than the other one, so it is not a big problem. Apart from that, everything went well.   “I have seen the weather forecast for the weekend and unbelievably, they say there is a chance of rain. Believe it or not, if it does rain, it will be a completely new experience for me, as I have never driven this track in the wet. But when it rains, it rains on everyone! Of course, Monaco is the sort of track where it is just not permitted to make a mistake and rain always increases the possibility of a mistake. It could make things even more of a lottery than usual, as will the new rules regarding having to use both types of tyre. If there is a Safety Car period, depending on what tyre you are on, it will either help you or go against you. But in a lottery, it is also important to have a bit of luck, so hopefully everything will work out for us this weekend.   “Even though I live in Monaco, I have not seen exactly where they have resurfaced the track. But I have seen all the work going on and it is amazing how quickly they build the circuit. It is very difficult in terms of logistics because there is so little space to do anything. I use some of the roads that make up the circuit on a regular basis: either I am going shopping or to a restaurant or to the supermarket, sometimes every day, so I know those bits particularly well, but it is very different once you are in a Formula 1. Even going round this track with my race engineer is a difficult job, so really, Thursday morning practice is the first chance to get a good understanding of any changes.   “Of course, my personal target is to win here and that would definitely be better than anything I have managed in Monaco before. My best result here is only a fifth place, but the word “only” is wrong because I was in a Sauber, when that team was still very new to F1 and at the time, that was not so bad. I also had a sixth with them, but last year I did not have a good weekend. I know that Monaco is a very unique race where there can be a lot of retirements, so the first thing is to try and finish the race.

 

Another perfect weekend

May 15, 2007 · Posted by staffFerrari
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I have had little time to think about my win in the Spanish Grand Prix, because after a party with friends on Sunday night, I went home to Monaco but by Monday night I had already taken the hour and a half drive along the coast to start testing today, Tuesday, at the Paul Ricard circuit.   “I think Barcelona was another perfect weekend for me in every way; the way we approached the job, the way practice went and also qualifying. In fact qualifying on pole was a very important preparation for the race, because even with the new chicane, it was still not that easy to overtake. So it was very good for me to start from the front. Sure, it turned out to be a tight battle at the first corner, as everyone could see. What happened there showed that I am not scared of being aggressive and that I can be a fighter. I know I am up against some very tough opposition, so this proved that I can be tough too. And then, the way I drove after the start shows that after what happened in a similar situation in Malaysia, I am able to learn a little bit and move forward.    “I think it was meant to be my day, because even with the fire on my car as I drove out after the first pit stop, nothing was going to stop me! Actually, at the time, I never saw the fire, as I was looking straight ahead. That was a good thing for me and the first I knew about it was when the journalists asked me in the press conference after the race. It was one of those things where it is definitely better to know about it after it has happened!   “Therefore, in my mind, this was quite a straightforward race with no problems or mistakes from the start to the finish. I managed to get the car working well on both types of tyre, including the softer one, which was very important in terms of being able to build a gap over the guys behind. After that it was just a matter of managing the car and the situation. I would never say it was an easy race, but it was quite controlled, once the excitement of the start was over.   “What is unusual is that after three poles and two wins in a row, I am still only third in the championship. It shows we are moving in the right direction and that we have the momentum, but it also shows we need to keep working hard. I am the driver with the most wins and poles at the moment, but we need to have our feet on the ground and keep pushing, because the whole championship is going to be very tight. If you look at the second (Q2) part of qualifying in Barcelona, where it is easiest to see which car is really quickest, then it is clear how close it is between us. The advantage is not so big. But I have to say that, in the race, with our car and set-up and how we manage the tyres, as well as having a great strategy, we had a better package than McLaren. This doesn’t mean we have a real advantage, so we need to keep improving the car.   “It is Hamilton who leads right now and I have spoken quite a bit to him: he is definitely strong and is not bothered by pressure. At the moment, you cannot say that Fernando or him are the better driver, but if the situation continues like this, then maybe Lewis can even be more dangerous than Fernando, given his championship position and how he goes in the car. At the moment he seems more comfortable in the car than Fernando. We need to keep an eye on that, because he can be a dangerous threat.

 

We want to keep the momentum

May 8, 2007 · Posted by staffFerrari
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I have had a busy time since returning to Europe from Brazil, where I went after the Bahrain Grand Prix. The first appointment was back in the cockpit of the F2007 for testing at the Catalunya circuit where we race this coming Sunday. For me, it was a successful test as we have definitely made some improvements to the car, which was always planned for this first session after the opening three races outside Europe. The team has worked very hard and the reward is a good step forward, especially on the aerodynamic side. The actual results and lap times were good, but you have to remember that in testing it is quite difficult to get a really one hundred percent understanding of what the other teams have achieved. The most important thing is that we have made a step forward and this weekend we will see how it compares to our rivals. “Apart from the new aero package, which includes a new engine cover, front wing and modified side pods, we have also come up with some changes to the mechanical side of the car, and that led to us seeing improvements in the set-up of the car. The aero package was the more significant change, but these other elements are also very important. The result of these changes is that the car is not only quick, but also more consistent. “Last Sunday I went to Brisighella in Italy, where I was presented with this year’s Trofeo Bandini, which honours the memory of Lorenzo Bandini, who was also a Ferrari driver for much of his career. The award is very important and prestigious and many drivers have been given this prize, including Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Jacques Villeneuve and it is usually given in the early stages of one’s career and reflects also on how well you have done in the previous year’s championship. I was extremely happy to accept it and I was given a very warm reception by the people in the town square for the ceremony. “Life as a Formula 1 driver is certainly varied, because the day before going to Brisighella, I was in Milan doing a magazine photo shoot with Dolce & Gabbana. But I don’t think after that I will be planning a second career as a model!  It was definitely different and it included a shot of me taken in a hotel room, wearing my race suit and playing on a Playstation. “On to more important matters, I am looking forward to the Spanish Grand Prix. As you may know, they have modified the circuit and this will be the first time we actually race on the changed layout. I have to say from the point of view of just driving pleasure, the new version is worse than the old, because there are more slow corners and slow chicanes. That is not what we racing drivers like. But, I have to admit that from the point of view of making the racing exciting, for making a spectacle, it is a good idea, as there will be more overtaking opportunities at the end of the straight, as you no longer have a very quick corner. So for the show, I think it is better now. Of course, I can be optimistic about the Spanish Grand Prix: I won the last race, we had a good test at the same circuit that hosts the race and even though it is never easy to win races, I can be confident. Within the team, we just want to keep the momentum going forward and everyone is working very hard in every area to achieve that.

 

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