Massa's Blog

"A much better feeling"

October 28, 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 19, 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

October 11, 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.

 

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