Massa's Blog

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!

 

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