Massa's Blog

"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.

 

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