Massa's Blog

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 3, 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 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.

 

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 8, 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 2, 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.

 

“Safety is the most important factor”

July 5, 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.
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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.

 

Try to fight back immediately

June 8, 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

June 8, 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!

 

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.

 

Massa: A birthday at home

April 26, 2007 · Posted by staffFerrari
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The win in Bahrain was really great and at least I had plenty of time to think about it, as I flew back to Sao Paulo via Europe in what turned out to be a very long nineteen hour journey. But now, Bahrain is in the past and all I am really thinking about is the next round of the championship. I am happy to be back home, because this will be my last visit here in Brazil for a very long time, with the first part of the European season coming up, followed by the two races in North America, so finding time to come back here is going to be difficult.  I am not complaining about it, because it is a real sign that my racing is going well, but here in Brazil it is getting harder for me to live a completely normal life when I leave my house. Everybody knows me and they are real fans, but they are not crazy. Usually, they just want to ask me for an autograph and that is okay with me. Step by step I am becoming more famous, but that goes with the job. Sometimes it is nice when people come up to you, because it gives you a motivation, but occasionally it can be a bit too much, but I can manage to deal with that and I try and live a normal life. And most of the time that I’ve been here in Brazil, a normal life is exactly what I have had, just relaxing and training. But there have also been some work related things, like a press conference as soon as I got here from Bahrain and I have appeared on a couple of TV shows. The weather is great here at the moment which is nice. Even if I am on the other side of the world, I still keep in touch with the factory and speak every other day with my engineer to know what is going on and how preparations are going for next week’s test in Barcelona. I like to keep in touch and know how things are going.  So if we are going to talk about “work” for a moment, looking at the last two races, it was clear that Malaysia did not go well for us, but in Bahrain we had an excellent race pace and now we need to concentrate on finding some improvements in the car, looking specifically at different phases of the race weekend, like qualifying and the race itself. We have been analysing everything to try and improve for Spain, even if the last race was quite good for us. This is a Ferrari habit and it’s a good one. After three races, this is a key moment in the championship, with the top runners all so close in the points. It is very tight, which makes it even more important to work even harder to improve every single little detail on the car.   I am leaving Brazil on the weekend, because I am testing on Wednesday in Barcelona, where we will have the fourth round of the championship just over a week later. The emphasis in testing has changed a lot this year, as in the past so much of our time was taken up with tyre testing. Actually, at the moment, tyre testing is still one of our main areas of work, but there are other areas of the car where we can improve. But it does mean that we are not concentrating on tyres quite as much as usual.   For now, I can still enjoy a few more days with my family and the really nice thing is that I will be with them and at home for my birthday which is on 25 April. Thank you for asking, I’ll be twenty six! We will have a small party and some friends are coming round to the house.”

 

What I tried to do was the right thing

April 10, 2007 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Dubai, 9 April – I am already in the Middle East in Dubai for a couple of days before moving on to Bahrain. Of course, what happened in Sepang yesterday was disappointing. We were quick on Friday, I took pole on Saturday but we did not have a good race pace on Sunday. Why? To be honest we are not exactly sure. Some of it came from elements of the car set-up and parts we used in the race, but what is clear is that McLaren had made a good step forward. But our race pace was not a fair reflection of what it could have been and what it is supposed to be, because both me and Kimi were stuck in traffic for a lot of the race. Of course, this was not supposed to have happened given that I started from pole and Kimi from third. It was not what we had expected, but after a start that was not very good for either us as we lost position, it cost us a lot. I cannot say if our real pace would have matched the McLarens, but I know we have a good car.      Lewis stopped on lap 20 and I refuelled on lap 17, so there was not a big difference in our fuel loads during the first stint of the race. But the only certainty I had was that, having lost position to Fernando and to Lewis, I knew that if I did not pass Lewis as soon as possible, my race was effectively over. The best I could have finished would have been third at that point. With me due to refuel on lap 17 and Lewis three laps later, I would never have overtaken him in the run of pit stops and so the only course open to me was to try and pass him on the track. That is why I said to myself that I did not want to sit behind him, looking at the back of a McLaren for the whole race! If people accuse me of making mistake, I say, yes I did make a mistake, because otherwise I would have been ahead of him. But, I am not disappointed that I tried to pass him. You have to try in life and if tomorrow I am in the same position, I would try again. Hopefully, I would get past this time! I know it can seem different from outside the car, but from inside the car, with the information we had, what I tried to do was the right thing.      We can always learn from our mistakes, but now I want to look ahead to the next race, after the disappointment of the past two grands prix. But I will only carry with me the positive things, like the fact I took pole position. As usual, I will be trying to win for myself and for Ferrari. I quite like the Bahrain circuit actually. Last year, I just missed out on pole to Michael (Schumacher) by a thousandth of a second. I had a very bad race, making a mistake and then I had a very long pit stop because I stayed in the pits for nearly 50 seconds with a stuck wheel. But I have always been competitive there and in the winter tests I was fast. Hopefully, we can get a better result in the race on Sunday.

 

we have a much better understanding of the car

April 4, 2007 · Posted by staffFerrari
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The Maldives, 4 April – Today is my last day of a short break I have had following last week’s test in Malaysia. I chose to come to the Maldives. It’s the first time I have visited this part of the world and I am really happy with the choice I made to come here after testing. It’s a great place, really beautiful. The atmosphere is very calm and relaxing, the hotel is fine and the beach and the sea are beautiful.    I’ve doing plenty of sport and training in preparation for Malaysia and that has also been a good choice, because it feels even hotter here than in Sepang. I am not blasé about being here and realise this is one of the best aspects of being a Formula 1 driver, apart from the racing of course, that means I can come to a nice place like this when there is some time off between races.    But there is a work side to these past few days, in that I have been taking my training seriously as it is so important to be on top form going into this race. The hotel has a gym that I have been using, but of course the most important part of the programme is to train outside in the heat and humidity. Anyway, I prefer to get fit by playing sports rather than working in the gym, which can be boring, so I have been running, playing tennis, cycling and everything you can think of. The Malaysian Grand Prix is definitely the most difficult race on the calendar from the physical point of view. I feel in very good shape for the race. This time I don’t have my personal trainer with me, although I usually do, but I know what I have to do to get the work done. When it comes to Malaysia, actually there are times when it feels like driving the race car – not just sitting in it in the garage – is the coolest thing you can do!    I have seen all the recent media speculation following Melbourne, that this year’s championship is going to be easy for Ferrari. It’s not true of course, but I do have a good car. As usual, the important thing for this weekend, will be to put everything together, all the elements you need to win and we do have those elements. But the competition is very strong and so it will be very difficult, but looking at what we did in Australia and also last week in Sepang, we are looking very strong ourselves. In the first race we managed to win but we had a reliability problem with the other car, so the obvious next step is to be in a position to have both cars at the front. And that’s not easy, but we have a good team and a good package and everyone is working very hard. I am confident we will be very strong again this weekend.   The car we will race in Malaysia is the same as the one we raced in Australia, with nothing new. So from this aspect with the same package, our performance level cannot improve. But in another sense, we have done more running with the car now, and so we have a much better understanding of the car and how it works and that is very important. After having to fight from the back in Melbourne, I am looking forward to having a race from the front this weekend.

 

Felipe Massa blog - Brazil 21st March 2007

March 23, 2007 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Felipe Massa blog - Brazil 21st March 2007 After the Australian GP, I was told that a lot of the media wrote I drove a very good race from the back of the grid to finish in the points in sixth place. But while I agree that the race itself was good, I was not so happy with the outcome of the weekend, because of the circumstances that prevented me qualifying properly the previous day. But in the end I had a good Australian Grand Prix, a good race and that is encouraging for the next few rounds of the championship. There was no doubt that I was competitive in Melbourne from the first laps on track on Friday. Everything was set for me to get a great result. Now, I just have to think ahead and a fresh chance in the next race at Sepang and looking forward to being at the front. For me there were two big surprises in Melbourne: firstly that so many cars finished the race, given it was the opening round of the season and secondly that there was no Safety Car period, which is usually quite common at this track. A Safety Car could for sure have been a very positive thing; not for the leaders, but definitely for me! If I had started from the front, it could definitely have been a very competitive race between me and Kimi, especially if I'd made two stops, starting on the right tyres and being in optimum conditions in every way. I am sure it would have been a very good race for me. On the other hand, I think about events last year when there were so many races where we just threw away so many points, but this time at least, even after a bad result on Saturday, we were able to finish by bringing home some points that could turn out to be very important for the end of the championship. That was the most positive element of the whole weekend. My car was very difficult to drive in parts of the race, because in all our pre-season testing this winter, we never ran the car with such a heavy fuel load for such a long time as we did in the Melbourne race. That made life really difficult, especially as when I began to pick up some pace I found that the Hondas in front of me were very slow, especially Button, who had Rubens stuck behind him unable to get by. That put me in traffic and the most difficult part of the race for me, which cost me the most time, especially when it came to any chance of fighting Fisichella for fifth place towards the end. If you look at the overall performance levels of our competitors last weekend, to be honest it turned out just as I had expected based on the results of winter testing: McLaren a little bit better than the others but a bit behind the Scuderia and then BMW is how I saw the order of things. I hope it stays like this for the next few races! I will do just the last day of testing at the Sepang circuit next week, while Kimi does the first two, whereas when we go to the Barcelona test later, I will do two days and Kimi one, so the available testing time is divided equally between us. Now with just one car allowed per test and less days available, you really need to be ready to prepare properly for the race and be as organised as possible and make the most of every single lap of testing. At the moment, I am in Brazil, but I am not home in Sao Paulo. Instead, I am on a friend's farm right in the centre of the country where it is extremely hot, which was a deliberate choice to prepare for the hot and humid conditions we will meet in Malaysia. I have my trainer here with me and he is putting me through a programme to get used to the heat. I leave here on Sunday, stopping off in Europe for a day, before heading to Kuala Lumpur for the test.

 

I could not believe what I was seeing...

October 16, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Looking back at the Japanese Grand Prix, in terms of what happened for the championships, the only way I can analyse it is to divide into two: into my weekend personally as a driver and the weekend for me as part of the team. Starting with my weekend, in the end it was a great weekend for me, as on Saturday I took another pole position and from a driving point of view, I think I did everything I could to the best of my ability. Of course, I was not happy with the final result, because I did have the possibility to win the race, but I missed the chance through no fault of my own, but because of something unforeseen like a puncture. Finishing the race with that disappointment and then seeing what happened to your team-mate, it was really a frustrating weekend. So, to sum up, I was happy with my driving in every session on the track including the race but cannot be happy with the final result. It was definitely a very frustrating weekend for the team and as you may know, I am not a fake guy, I am really part of this team. So if the team is happy, then I am happy and if the team is unhappy then neither am I and so, I was not at all happy about what happened to Michael. Japan could have been a fantastic weekend for us. I drove past Michael’s car at the side of the track and I could not believe what I was seeing. It also made me lose a bit of concentration for one or two laps. It was not a nice moment, seeing him parked in the gravel. From the start of the race, I had been working for the team and there was no problem when Michael got past me to go in the lead. From then on I was just trying to make sure I stayed behind him. But that’s life. After the race, I told Michael that even if this result meant he could not win this year’s title it was not so bad. He still has seven titles! I said, ‘Michael, can you imagine if you had been in this position and you had not yet won a single championship title? At least you have seven in your pocket!’ After Japan, I came straight home to Brazil. I am in Sao Paulo, not doing very much apart from training and getting ready for my home race. The race weekend will start earlier than usual for me, as from this Monday onwards, I have plenty of sponsor and media events to attend. It’s going to be a busy week, but that’s the way it is. I am ready to deal with all the attention and concentrate on doing my very best for my fans, but first and foremost for my team.

 

Waiting for Suzuka

October 5, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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The end of the season appears to be coming all in a rush now as it seems like only yesterday that I was unfortunately parking my car at the side of the track in Shanghai and facing the racing driver’s worst journey, having to walk back to the garage. At least, as I managed to get the car to the end of the pit lane it was not exactly a very long walk!Even though it was a disappointing day, I enjoyed myself in the evening, attending a special F1 party which saw most of the other drivers also attend. From Shanghai, I went straight to Tokyo on Monday to start a couple of days of promotional work. I attended a function for a personal sponsor, Richard Mille who are a prestigious watch manufacturer in a town called Takamatsu. Then of course as we are in Japan, I attended a function at Bridgestone along with Michael. I did actually manage to get a bit of private time and I headed for the part of Tokyo famous for all its electronics stores, as I love all the amazing music players and gadgets they have here.  I also met up with a Brazilian friend of mine who lives here at the moment as he is racing in the Japanese GT series. I actually only came to Suzuka this afternoon (Thursday) arriving by helicopter which is definitely the best way to travel in this country. My first job was my usual meeting with the media. The facilities are not exactly the biggest here, so we just do the interviews standing up against a fence at the back of the pit garage. I have  been told that there has been some controversy in the press about some disagreement within our closest rival team, but it is not for me to comment on others. All I do know is that within the Ferrari team everyone is working in perfect harmony right now and that has to be a positive help for us. We are all one hundred percent motivated to have a good race here and also in Brazil. The Japanese press are of course very interested in we drivers’ views that next year, Suzuka loses the Japanese Grand Prix in favour of the Fuji circuit. Personally, I love this Suzuka circuit. It is definitely one of my favourites and I love driving it as it is very technical and challenging. It is definitely a driver’s circuit and it is a shame not to be here next year, but I am not against change, so we should not judge Fuji until we have been there and driven around it. There is always a great atmosphere here at Suzuka and I think part of it comes from the fact it gets dark here very early and so from the late afternoon, all the work in the garages takes place under spotlights. It is unusual in other ways as it is probably the only time of the season that every driver and team boss stays in the same hotel, the Circuit Hotel, so we see rather more of one another than usual, as there is not a huge range of choice when it comes to places to eat.

 

Monza at the start!

September 6, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Life could not be much better than going to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix, driving for Ferrari, having won the last Grand Prix! Turkey was an amazing weekend for me. It was a great feeling and a great moment for me and my career. Istanbul is not an easy track, very technical, so driving it is not so easy and difficult also in terms of the physical effort involved. Fantastic, to start from pole and win the race was an amazing way to win your first race and then there was the podium: on one side Fernando Alonso and on the other Michael Schumacher. This was the best way to end my first win. Coming to Monza with this win under my belt is very special. This weekend will be another very important race, especially as a Ferrari driver. One of the best things about Turkey was that both my father and mother were there together, which does not happen so often. My father comes maybe eight times a year, but my mother not so often. It was great for them and they were very proud of me. In Istanbul I was on the pace and quick right from the start of the weekend. Everything came together: the relationship with my engineers and the other people within the team has been improving all year and we were able to show our true potential. Step by step I am growing as a driver. If you look at the last five races, I was always in the top three at the start and almost every race finished on the podium, including four out of the last five. From the mid-point of the championship to now, things have changed quite a lot for me, as I get more comfortable with the team. Last week we had a very encouraging test at Monza. The package we have especially for this race was really working well in terms of efficiency and downforce and our lap times were consistently quick. I think we are going to be very strong in the race. After the test, I went down to southern Italy to a town called Cerignola. It is the town where my family came from before moving to Brazil. I think now, there might still be the sister of my great-grandfather living there, but that’s all. I had already been there to visit a couple of years ago and now, after my win in Turkey, they decided to give me the freedom of the city. It was a wonderful honour for me and thousands of local people turned out in the square for the ceremony. Coming there as a winning Ferrari driver was something that surprised the locals I think. Now I hope I also get a big welcome from all the tifosi when I get to Monza on Thursday. I can’t wait. It’s going to be a really exciting week end.

 

I can't wait!

August 24, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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It’s been a long time since I was last in touch and I have been enjoying the break since the Hungarian Grand prix, which to be honest was a race to forget for us at Ferrari. But in a way, it was not such a bad result in terms of the championship, as our main rivals also had a poor weekend, so that we are more or less back where we started before the Budapest weekend in terms of points, only with just five races to go. It was fortunate for us, but when you consider that earlier in the season, we had been a little bit unlucky but that last race saw Renault also get some bad luck. After that race, I went home to Brazil for a week and then I went with my girlfriend to Miami to stay with some friends. Honestly, I think it was good to have a break from racing. I was not physically tired, but I felt it was useful to switch off and get some energy back and recharge your personal batteries for what is left of the season. Even though I was on the other side of the ocean, I kept in touch with the engineers back at the factory, because of course they were still working. In Miami, I spent most of my time on the beach doing sports and generally having a good time. I particularly enjoy jet-skiing which is great fun and of course it suits the main requirement for a racing driver – it involves an engine. Even without any racing or testing, the team has been working hard and we can expect some improvements to the overall package on the car, which should bring us a small gain, but of course, we can be sure the other teams have also been working hard. In a way, Renault is under more pressure than us, but we saw already last year that even in this situation, they are capable of winning races, so I expect it to be very tight between us all the way to the last round of the championship. But the pressure is there for them as we are very close to them now in terms of points and that is when it gets tough and when you can make mistakes, as we saw in the last race. When I say mistakes, I don’t just mean from the drivers, because in Budapest we saw team errors too. In my opinion, Renault has more to lose than Ferrari, because they have led for the whole championship, all the way from the beginning in Bahrain and so for them to lose now would feel much worse for them. We have been second to them all year, so that if we win at the end, it would be a great bonus for us, fantastic. Before coming out here to Istanbul, I ran the Formula 1 car on the streets of London, as part of a promotion for Shell. It was an amazing experience driving past famous London landmarks like the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. There were also some historic old Ferraris and some Ducati motorcycles taking part too. It looked like a typically English scene, because although it is the middle of August, the sky was black and I thought it was going to rain. They closed the roads and a big crowd turned out to watch. After that, I went to an English circuit called Snetterton, where I took Shell dealers for rides around the circuit in a Ferrari 430. It was my first time at this circuit, as my racing career, unlike so many of my fellow Brazilians, never involved a year in the UK, but I had some idea of what it was like from a computer game that features the British Touring Car championship. So now it’s time to go racing again and I am really pleased that it is here in Istanbul as I really love this track. Last year, I ran competitively, although I was unlucky in that I was involved in a collision at the start and had to stop t change the nose on the car. It is really nice to drive here and it is a circuit that gives a lot of pleasure to the driver. The layout is fantastic and I especially like the quick left hander which is really nice. I can’t wait to get out in the car again!

 

E adesso tocca a voi... - And now it's your turn...

July 14, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Ecco la squadra della Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro che arriva in Francia... Here is the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team arriving in France....(foto dppi)

 

Magny-Cours is waiting for us

July 14, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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It’s nice to be back in Europe for summer, as I have just come to France from my home in Sao Paulo where of course it is winter right now. Although I must say the weather here was a bit of a shock. I know we have mild winters in Brazil, compared to here anyway, but to go from the 23 degrees at home to an amazing 36 here in Magny-Cours was a surprise.   I don’t have much to tell you about my time at home as honestly, I didn’t do much, apart from relax with my family and friends and continue with my training programme. Every day I would go and work out in the gym and then go running in a park near the gym. It’s in an area called Ibirapuera and very beautiful. Lots of my fellow drivers like cycling, but I just prefer running and as long as you don’t try and run a long distance like a marathon, it’s not too hard on your joints. Of course, running in the park, I get recognised by people all the time, but I don’t have to stop my training for them as, if they want an autograph, they have to catch me first! Occasionally, a dog might chase me, but that does not bother me, as in my family’s home in the countryside, I have three dogs, or four if you count the one that’s supposed to belong to my girlfriend. They are all Labradors, which are a super breed of dog. Usually, they are very well behaved, but my girlfriend’s one, which is a beautiful chocolate colour, is completely crazy.   What can I tell you about this weekend? As you probably know, Magny-Cours has just about the smoothest track surface of the year and I guess that might make it a bit more comfortable to drive on, but this weekend, the high temperatures mean it is going to be quite a tough Sunday afternoon if it stays like this. It’s also a very safe circuit, with big run-off areas, but this does not mean you drive in a different way, because in Formula 1, you always drive on the limit, whatever the circuit – even Monaco. That’s all for today as I have to rush off for another engineers meeting.

 

Usa emotions

July 5, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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I am back home in Sao Paulo now, as I am not part of this week’s testing programme. I am still feeling very happy about my second place in Indianapolis. It was a fantastic sensation being on that podium with such a big crowd, with Michael next to me and lots of Brazilian flags waving from the grandstands opposite.   I think Sunday’s race was very good for the future of Formula 1 in the USA and it was also very good for Ferrari and for me, as I feel I did drive a really good race and was able to push all the way. Racing is not just about speed, you also need to be intelligent, especially when you are fighting for a championship and so last weekend really was a perfect job from my point of view and from the team perspective also. On top of that, it has really given us all even more motivation to keep pushing all the way to the end of the season. On a personal level, this is my best result and so it is important for me in terms of my career, as you need to be at the front of the field to be noticed.   After such a dominant performance from us this weekend, I was often asked if this was a sign that Ferrari is back on top. Firstly, I would say that the team has been very near the top for a few races now, but circumstances meant that was not always so obvious. On top of that, in Indy, the other tyre company I am sure adopted a more conservative approach than usual in terms of the performance of its tyres, after events last year. When we are back in Europe, I expect the competition to get harder for us again and that we will not look so dominant. But in Indy, we showed that our Bridgestone can work at very high temperatures, which we will see now in the European summer. Also, we have some evolutions coming on the car, so combining this and some advantages from our tyres, I think we can be very competitive.   I am staying here in Brazil until Tuesday, where I will be relaxing, seeing my family and going to the gym. I am not a hundred percent crazy about fitness training, but the gym I use is popular with other racing drivers and so I find it much nicer to always train with some other people, as it makes the time pass more quickly.   I would like to congratulate with the Italian team for yesterday match!    Of course, I had hoped that I would be watching Brazil play in the World Cup final here at home, but unfortunately that won't happen now..

 

Waiting in Indianapolis

June 30, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Dear blog friends,After the last race, I went to Miami. It was lovely there, just a three hour flight from Montreal and then two hours down here to Indy. There’s a big contingent of Brazilians who race in the States who are based in Miami, but honestly I didn’t see any of them. I just relaxed at the hotel with a couple of friends and my manager, Nicolas. I was really able to unwind, which is important when you only have a few days in between two races.   As for this weekend, as usual, I’m optimistic. We have to do our best. This is a race where Ferrari has always gone well and I hope we have a really great weekend.   Actually, one day I would quite like to have a go at racing in the “real” Indy 500. It is a very important race, although I don’t think it’s always the best driver who wins because the car is more important here. But it’s still a very interesting race.   Looking at my year so far, there were two or three races that were not so good, while the others were better. I hope to make use of everything I have learnt in this first half of the season in having a much better final part of the season. This experience, combined with the fact that I drive for a top team like Ferrari should see me grow in the second half of the season.   The motivation within the team is still very high. We know this championship will be very difficult, but we are trying to get everyone pulling together as much as possible. As for the continuing talk that I have to be some sort of blocker between Michael and Fernando, it is not just me. We both need to be in front of both Renaults. But our goal this weekend is to get in front of anyone who happens to be in front.   Speaking of goals, I am still cheering Brazil’s football eleven of course and tomorrow, Saturday, they have their very important quarter final game. Very important obviously, as it will take them a step closer to retaining the World Cup trophy they won four years ago, but also because they will be playing France. So, I am not sure if it will be a good idea for me to watch the game with my manager, Nicolas Todt! It should be a good match, as you have to take into account that it actually features the last two teams to win the World Cup.   Before we came here to Indy, there were some concerns that we might get a hostile reception, because of what happened here last year. But the fans here are real racing enthusiasts and they seem ready to have a good weekend. Even on Thursday, I saw a lot of people here at the circuit. I think they are all hoping to see a great race this weekend. I am looking forward to putting on an exciting show for the people and to show them that Formula 1 is still a great sport.

 

Coming up to half-time

June 23, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Hi to everyone! I am in Montreal now. Yesterday there was a strange weather. When I arrived it was beautiful sunshine, but the first day of work at the track, started with rain and this is not a good place to drive in the wet, nor for the mechanics to work in the rain, as the circuit facilities are quite basic.   In the evening yesterday we had the usual meeting with the journalists, which here in Canada we do just standing in the paddock, as we have no real team or media motorhomes. As a Brazilian tifoso, of course I watched the Brasil vs Japan, great, we won!   For the moment Brazil’s football team are giving me something to be happy about. Maybe we did not start off playing very good football but I really believe in the team and reckon it will improve with every game. At the moment, Brazil are not in line to come up against Italy, so for the time being I can support both teams. But the day will come when we might come face to face.   It’s too early to talk about the final, but still I am being asked what would happen if Brazil came up against Germany, of course I am asked that because of my team-mate’s nationality! I think it would be nice to have another match like that for the final and hopefully, we would win again.   If you want to keep on the theme of football, we could say that in the Formula 1 world, we are coming up to “half-time” as after this race here in Canada, we will have completed nine out of eighteen races. I think I have shown I have the speed that I need, but it will be important to put together some good results in the final half of the season.   All the journalists are asking me what I can do to help Michael in his fight for the title.Help Michael? It’s a strange question because first of all, Michael has to help himself, because he also needs to be in front of Alonso. I’m trying to do my best to be in front of him as well. I am always trying hard to win and I will continue to do all I can to try and win. Finally I would like to thank all the blog friends that always support me, meet at the next blog!  

 

Overseas tranfer

June 15, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Dear Y&F friends,The simplest way to sum up our performance in the British Grand Prix is to say that we all expected to do a bit better than we did. It was not a great weekend for us, but we’re not giving up on the championship, even though Renault put on a great performance at Silverstone. The talk in the paddock after qualifying was that probably the Renaults would be stopping earlier than the Ferraris, but honestly, from all our data, we expected them to go at least as far as us in the first stint and that’s what happened. We tried to change our strategy by a lap or so to get ahead, but it was not enough. They are strong, but to be honest our tyres did not work in quite the way we had expected. But now the important thing is to look forward and that means starting with the next race in Canada.   That’s why I’m here testing in the south of France, at the Le Castellet circuit. The next two races need a different aero package – low drag - to what we have been running so far this year and we have different wings which should give us a very efficient car. We have only done the one day of testing so far, but we are quite optimistic about this configuration, because it has shown really good performance in the wind tunnel. So these next couple of days running here are to validate the changes and to get used to the effect they have on the rest of the car. I think we can be quite strong with this package. We are also working on evaluating tyres for the next two races and different braking materials, as Canada is tough on brakes although we really do not have any issues in this area.   I am testing here at Le Castellet until the end of Friday, then I’m going home to Monaco which is a very short drive away. Of course, I have been watching the World Cup, even here at the test, once our engineering debriefing was finished we watched the Germany – Poland game.  It’s true that Brazil did not play great football in our first game and it was not a brilliant match. But we won and that’s the important thing. Don’t worry, we are going to play well for the rest of the tournament. Next time they play, on Sunday, I am actually going to be at the match in the stadium in Munich and I’m really looking forward to seeing them play, before heading off for Montreal on Tuesday.

 

F1 and the World Cup

June 7, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Hello to every blog-friend! I had just one day of testing in Barcelona last week. It rained in the morning, which is a good thing really as it is not impossible for us to have some rain showers at Silverstone this weekend, especially as the race is a month earlier than usual. At the moment the weather in England is good, but you never know. Water is never far away in England! In the wet in Barcelona we were very quick compared to our competitors. Then, in the afternoon in the dry, we did a lot of laps and I tried tyres and some interesting things in terms of car set-up. It was a good day for us, especially as compared to the team that leads us in the championship we were always very very quick. Then, the second and third days of the session with Michael were also very positive. So I am really looking forward to Silverstone, because at the end of the day the Barcelona circuit is quite similar in terms of layout and set-up and in the type of tyres you need. We have found some interesting things for Silverstone.   We need a good result after I was unable to score points in Monaco. I am hoping to be strong in the next few races. Your demands definitely change depending on which team you are with. Already, I have more points after seven races than I have ever scored in a whole season in my past career, but as a Ferrari driver that’s really not enough. What I can do in the Ferrari is definitely much more than I could do in the past. So I want to forget Monaco and get back on the good course I was on after the Spanish Grand Prix.   After the testing I have been keeping up my training of course, but I have also been quite busy with other things. I went to Paris at the weekend for Jacques Villeneuve’s wedding, where I was invited because we used to be team-mates. It was a very enjoyable day. I was travelling a lot, as after Paris, on the Sunday I flew down to Athens for a promotion for Shell. From there I went back home to Monaco but only until Wednesday, as I fly to England to do another Shell event in Manchester before going to Silverstone. It’s a circuit I enjoy driving, because I like the track layout with its quick corners. In the past I have been competitive there so I hope this time it will be a good weekend for me.   Although Friday will be the same as ever, Saturday and Sunday means an earlier start than usual, as qualifying is 90 minutes earlier than at most races and the Grand Prix itself starts at midday instead of the usual 2 o’clock. Of course, this is to avoid clashes with the World Cup, including the first England game as they play on the day of Qualifying. I will have to wait until Tuesday to see Brazil play Croatia. I will only be watching that on TV, but I am going to Germany to be in the stadium when Brazil plays its second game against Australia. Like all Brazilians I will be looking forward to the series, because everyone in Brazil is crazy about football and they have forgotten about Formula 1 at the moment. I hope that in Silverstone I will have a good day and remind everyone at home that Formula 1 is still alive!

 

A weekend to forget fast

May 30, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Dear friends,   As most of you knows very well, not all of us Formula 1 drivers go to a Grand Prix with the same expectation levels. But when you have a competitive package and especially when you drive for Ferrari, naturally your expectations are higher than most. That’s why the weekend that has just ended was really one to forget.  Qualifying went wrong for me, as I ended in the barrier in the first fifteen minute session, so I had no lap time to my name. It was just one of those things, it was my mistake. It was a point where you change direction and although I corrected the car it was too late, because where it happened on the circuit there is really nothing you can do. A driving mistake always means a crash. We had the one hour of free practice in the morning, so I knew what the track conditions were like. We took a while to decide what sort of tyre I should use in the first part of qualifying and in the end we opted for a scrubbed set. When they are scrubbed, they need at least one or two laps to be at the right temperature and I did not have very good grip on my first qualifying lap. I was not pushing very hard but the tyre pressure was a little bit low and that caused me to lose the rear end of the car. Qualifying was over for me.   In the race, it was just traffic and more traffic, apart from three laps after the pit stop when I was able to push hard on new tyres. The car was very good for those three laps, but then I caught up to Ralf (Schumacher) and after that he was in front of me for the whole of the second stint and he was impossible to pass.   I live in Monaco most of the year, but I cannot really say it’s a home race, unlike the real home race in Brazil and now also the two grands prix in Italy. But racing here did come with the advantage of not needing to get on a plane or to stay in a hotel room. It was nice to be able to go straight to my apartment after the team’s post-race debrief, especially as my family had come over from Brazil to stay with me for the weekend. And I also got to see them a bit more than usual, because the Friday is a day off in the Monaco race timetable. That extra day does seem to make the race weekend much longer than usual and I certainly felt I was a bit busier, with more events to attend for sponsors, usually on boats in the harbour. On Thursday, we had a very enjoyable night, when all the team had dinner together on a very big boat right down the new end of the harbour. It’s an official event, but at the same time it is more of a family thing, as team members can bring wives and children and the atmosphere is really good. The fun part is a film specially made for us that takes a humorous look at members of the team and overall, it was a nice relaxing way to start the weekend.   Now, I’m doing one day testing in Barcelona, the main point of the test being to look at Bridgestone tyre choice for the next race at Silverstone. I am quite optimistic about that race and I think we can be quite strong there. In any case, as usual, “Forza Ferrari”!!!

 

Monte Carlo: almost the home GP for me

May 25, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Sorry I’m a day late with this, but “life” got in the way! I suppose this is a sort of home race for me, as I am resident here in the Principality. But it is not in the same league as Brazil in terms of pressure from the media and support from the fans, although this year, I will notice the noisy support from all the Italian fans who make the short trip from Italy to support the Scuderia.   Do I like this race? To be honest, this is not a track where I can claim to like everything about it. It is good from the spectacle point of view, but in terms of delivering driving pleasure, I would say I much prefer tracks like Spa, Turkey or Suzuka. Here your concentration must be absolute with 78 laps of the track where you spend your time within millimetres of the barrier and so concentration is very important. It is very tough to get to the finish, because there are always a lot of accidents in this race and so you have to keep out of trouble if you want to see the chequered flag.   Technically I think we are very well prepared after last week’s testing.  We have different suspension geometry here especially suited for this track and I am confident and optimistic. Qualifying will be crazy with all these cars on track so it will be easy to get stuck in traffic and there will be an element of luck involved so I hope I get lucky, as starting near the front in Monte Carlo is always important. The rest of the weekend really does depend on qualifying. We are concentrating a lot on qualifying, but we also need to use tyres that can run a race stint at a good pace. Last year we saw several cars have problems at the end of the race with tyres, but that won’t be the case this time, as tyre changing is allowed. This means we can adopt a more aggressive tyre strategy right from qualifying.   The big news story today was Valentino Rossi’s announcement that he plans to stick with MotoGP, rather than switch from two wheels to four, plus a steering wheel too. Many of the press expected me to say how relieved I was at this news, as there were stories that he could drive for Ferrari. But to be honest, I had not given it much thought. The important thing for me is to continue getting good results in the hope of staying with Ferrari for several years. From what I saw of Valentino, is that when you consider he is a motorcycle racer I think he did a very good job in a Formula 1 car. But I think that being a driver for a Formula 1 team, but not just any team, for Ferrari, is a very big step and he preferred to stay in his world. Honestly for me, it would have seemed like a very big step for him. To be honest, the spectre of Valentino never haunted me, despite what lots of people were saying. Personally, I never believed he would come to Ferrari. It changes nothing for me. I will just get on with my work as usual.   At the last few races, we have seen that from now on it could be between Ferrari and Renault. It’s true that Renault has usually gone well here, but we have several changes on the car compared with the last race, including set up changes that improve our traction. We have tested tyres that we think will work very well here and so we are optimistic. But please come back and see what I have to say after the race to see if I was right or not! Then we will know! But today, here and now I think we have a car with which we can beat Renault.    So, now I can enjoy the benefits of being at home, which means I have not had to pack a suitcase for this race and I don’t have to check in to a hotel. That is worth a lot.

 

the fastest lap of the race - il giro più veloce

May 16, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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It’s proof of the progress we have made in recent weeks, that not finishing on the podium in Barcelona was disappointing. But, when you get to the end of a race and know in your mind that you could not have done any better, then you have to be satisfied with the result. There was no reason to be disappointed. But, of course, we had not expected the Renaults to make such a step forward on race day. They took a well deserved win when you think that even a strong team like McLaren ended up one lap down by the end of the event. All I can say to them is ‘well done!’ Generally, our package was just not quick enough. I was happy with our tyre choice and I think we took the one with the best performance for the race. The softer of the two Bridgestones was definitely too soft. Sure, we might have started on the front row if we had picked it, but after a couple of laps, we would have been in difficulty. I think maybe the heat tipped the balance slightly in favour of Renault last Sunday, as it was hotter than we had expected. But not just the heat, it was also down to the grip levels from the track. Now we know we still have to do some more work for the next few races. From what we have seen from the last three races, the close fight for the championship is going to go on. Even if we thought we could dominate on Sunday, we should not be too surprised that it did not turn out that way. Very small changes can make a big difference in this sport. If a team that is doing badly suddenly does well, then it’s a surprise, but Renault has won the most races this year and both their cars started in front of us in Spain. So it’s not that surprising they won! We know they are the team to beat. I tried to get past Fisichella at both pit stops, but both times, three laps before the end of the stint, he and I were both caught in traffic, but he managed to get by the slower cars easier than me and so I lost two or three very important seconds when it came to trying to get past him. I think that’s what cost me the position, because if you look at the data, you will see that once I did get past the backmarkers, I was able to go at a really strong pace and I even set the fastest lap of the race for the first time in my F1 career.  

 

The right direction

May 10, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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They say that in Formula 1, you are only as good as your last result, so I only have a couple more days to enjoy the thought of my podium at the Nurburgring, before it’s time to get back on track this Friday in Barcelona. For now, I’m still feeling really happy about my first ever podium in Formula 1 and it was also a great result for us and the whole team.  In the race, the whole car was quite strong, especially at the beginning when I and Michael were both pushing Fernando. My car was quite consistent all race and the tyres were working well. Only in the last stint – where I had scrubbed tyres – it was not working so well. It was a great result, it helps the team out for the championship and especially me and Michael for the fight. In the first three races we were not on the pace, so hopefully now, that we have got much closer to Renault, there is a chance for us to fight with them for all the remaining races. I am happy because everything is working in the right direction. I had a very good start and I could manage to put my car side-by-side with Michael at the first corner but he was on the inside so he was able to go ahead. Really, it was a great start and I think the whole thing was perfect with the strategy too. The management of the race by the team on the pit wall was very good. Sometimes the wind was changing, the situation was a little bit tricky over a couple of corners, and then the wind changed a little bit and it was a little bit tricky in other corners, but anyway, I could handle it to do a good race without mistakes and that’s very important for me and the team. But  the last five laps were not so easy because I was getting closer and closer to Fernando and Kimi was getting closer and closer to me, because I was getting very close to Fernando and I lost performance, for sure. But anyway, I think it was a great result, I’m really happy with this first podium and the fact that everything worked fantastically for us all weekend. We brought the right tyres, for sure. The car was working perfectly and the race was very good. Now it’s time to head to Spain and the Circuit de Catalunya, which we all know very well because of the winter testing we do there. That means it could be very close between the top runners, but after the Nurburgring, I am looking forward to this weekend full of confidence.

 

A new challenge

May 5, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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After all the talk about how cold it might be at the Nurburgring with this race being much earlier in the year than usual, I couldn’t believe it when I got of the plane and found how warm it was. You can understand that, coming from Brazil, cold and rain is not really my scene, so already the weekend is looking good. We had some fun on Wednesday night when the whole team went to Michael’s kart track in Kerpen. I’m told this is an annual tradition for the guys, as it’s the nearest race to his home town. For me it was my first visit and it really was fun to see everyone in the team so relaxed and enjoying themselves. But it’s been back to work today at the track, with engineer meetings and tyre briefings and of course, the media. During the weekend, having to talk to the journalists and TV can be a bit distracting, as you only really want to concentrate on your driving. But the Thursday meetings, with no actual track time on this day, are more relaxed and, as I know most of the journalists pretty well, I actually enjoy doing it. We always start with the TV interviews, which I do standing up against the board with all the team sponsor names on. After all, that is why they sponsor the team. With TV you have to be fairly serious with your answers, but after that, I sit down for a chat mainly with the Italian journalists and we can actually have a bit of a laugh and a joke. They are quite a mixture, with some of them interested in all the tiny technical details, others still want to talk about the last race – when to be honest, I’ This weekend, those of you watching on TV with extra good eyesight might notice that I have a new race engineer working with me, Rob Smedley. Up until now, I had been working with Gabriele Delli Colli, but the team decided I needed a change. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed working with Gabriele and he certainly knows his job. But you know, the relationship between a race driver and his race engineer has to develop into something almost telepathic and this was not happening. Maybe it’s because we both have Latin temperaments that can sometimes, like identical magnets, clash when you put them together. Rob is no stranger to me, as I have worked with him at several test session, including the long one we had in Bahrain before the start of the season.

 

Proud to drive for Ferrari

April 24, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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I started fourth and finished fourth: that was the story of my San Marino Grand Prix. After what was a tough race, I can be happy with this result, especially when you look at the combined number of points me and Michael brought home. Seeing that Michael fought all through the race with Alonso in the Renault and I was fighting both McLarens, honestly it is something I can be happy about. Yes, I might have made it to the podium, but I lost some time behind an Aguri at just the critical time, which meant I was just unable to keep ahead of Montoya.  On the second stint, I had some graining after the first couple of laps out of the pits. It lasted about five or six laps when it was really difficult to keep up a good pace. But then the tyres cleaned up and we were back on a goodish pace. So, after three unlucky races, I am happy with fourth and to see our team take its first win of the season. I reckon that Sunday’s race shows we don’t need much to be exactly the same level in terms of performance as the others. We have to think carefully about how we tackle the next race, but I think we are definitely at the right level to fight with the other top guys at every race now. On Sunday night, I said that naturally, it would have been nicer to finish on the podium, as fourth is still the best I have done in my F1 career so far, with two other finishes in this position. But now, I think I can look to do better in the coming races. After the race, I was asked what I thought was the secret behind Michael still being able to win races after so many years in the sport. For me, 37 does not seem very old. There have been drivers winning who were older than that. Michael is just motivated and that is the main thing in any sport. I am younger and I am very motivated and I would hope to reach Michael’s age and still have that same level of motivation. Speaking of age, tomorrow, Tuesday, is my twenty fifth birthday. I am not planning to do anything special though. Since Imola, I have not gone home, but have stayed in Italy, in Milan, as I am testing at Fiorano for three days, starting on Wednesday. So, I will be spending my birthday in Maranello at Ferrari, which I think many guys my age would think is actually very special indeed. And I guess I would have to agree with them! 

 

WAITING FOR IMOLA...

April 20, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Hi there. I’m already in Italy, a few days ahead of the grand prix at Imola, having come up to Milan on Tuesday to see the Milan v Barcelona football game. Honestly, I like both teams, they are both very good and both have quite a lot of Brazilian players. I am a big fan of Ronaldinho, who set up Barcelona’s goal with a brilliant pass, but I also like Kaka very much so I was just pleased that it was an exciting game to watch.    I went back to Brazil immediately after the grand prix in Australia and spent a week there at home in Sao Paulo with my girlfriend doing nothing much at all. I got over the jet lag quite quickly, as it’s a shorter trip than coming back to Europe from Melbourne and I slept for most of the flight, got home around six in the evening and slept through the night again. I did some sport and worked in the gym.   Then last week I did three days of testing in Barcelona. I reckon things went pretty well. We got some useful stuff out of it, as regards the new aerodynamics on the car which is interesting. We also had some changes on the engine which take us in the right direction.   From there I returned to my other home in Monaco where I spent the Easter weekend. I had a quiet time again before making this short trip up to Milan. So now we come to the reason I am here in Italy which is of course this weekend’s San Marino Grand Prix. For me, this will be an amazing experience as it will be my first race in Italy as a Ferrari driver. All in all, I am partly Italian anyway, with my family having Italian roots. And I have also spent a big part of my life living here when I was racing in other formula. For me Italy is definitely what I consider to be my second home, so while this might be an important race for everyone at Ferrari and all its fans, it is also a significant event for me. I hope I can do a good job and be happy about things come next Monday!   Its’ true that, on paper, I don’t have much of a record at Imola in Formula 1, but even so, last year, I had a very good qualifying, finishing sixth at the end of the first session – remember we had two qualifying sessions back then – but after that I needed an engine change. That meant I did the second qualifying with a very heavy fuel load but even so, I set the eighth fastest time. I really believe I could have ended up in the top four if it had not been for the penalty that dropped me ten places. But in other categories, I always did well here, so I hope that I have a competitive car right from Friday and can put on a good show.

 

To get back to winning ways

April 4, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Maranello, 4 April –The Melbourne race left a bitter taste in the mouth. There were no plus points, the two drivers finished up against the protective barrier but luckily both escaped unhurt. The gap to the top of the classification is a substantial one. The only point of note is that once Michael’s tyres reached the right temperature, he kept pace with the best. This signifies that there is the potential to be competitive. What we have to do is put together the pieces of the puzzle and be competitive for an entire weekend and not only a single phase of the race. We have to try to be quick in qualifying to avoid those inevitable risks at the start that disrupted Felipe’s race. He was not at fault in the incident that ended his weekend a few hundred metres from the start. We have to place Michael in a position where he is not handicapped at the start and can exploit the innate sense of rhythm that sets him apart from the rest. Now we have two weeks of work ahead of us - there will be little time for rest – before our home race at Imola. From today we will be at Vallelunga for the first of three days of testing. On the track will be Luca Badoer in the 248 F1 and Marc Gené at the wheel of the limited power V10 F2004. Michael will appear on the track tomorrow and Thursday. Next week we are off to Barcelona. On Tuesday 11 it will be the turn of the test drivers then, from Wednesday to Friday, Michael will partner Felipe. We have important development work to carry out on a new aerodynamic package, new rear suspension and engine modifications that should resolve the problems that have recently compromised the car’s reliability. We will also be working hard on the tyres to try to get the best out of them even when we have conditions similar to those experienced in Melbourne. As you can see, there is a lot to be done. At Imola we have to get back to winning ways.  

 

The feelings of Ferrari team

April 2, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Melbourne, 1 April - Things did not go as we expected or hoped. Qualifying was very disappointing; it is useless trying to hide it. It is true that the rather cold temperatures – here it is autumn – were not favourable. However, we did not think that we would be outside the top ten. In the second part of the session, Ferrari spun off the track on quite a fast lap while Michael missed qualifying by just four thousandths. A fraction, but in a sport that strives to make the tiniest improvements, a few thousandths make a big difference and we saw as much today. The mood is not the best on this cold Melbourne evening. The mechanics worked hard until 18.30 – the time that the car has to be turned over to the FIA – to prepare a new car for Felipe as chassis 252 was damaged in the collision with the barrier and was impossible to repair. Luckily, the engine is intact and so was mounted, with the gearbox, onto chassis 250 – the first example of the 248 F1 produced. Tomorrow, when the car will be handed back to the team, the final refinements will be made. The only advantage of our grid position is that we can wait until the very last moment before choosing the fuel load with which to start the race. If there is the variable weather we saw today, this could be an important aid. Incidentally, the forecast is for dry conditions. However things go, we have to try to give our all and do what we can to finish in the points. As in Malaysia, we find ourselves in a position of damage limitation and not one where we can attack for the maximum result. We have to do what is necessary!

 

Down Under

March 31, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Melbourne, 31 March - Down under: this is what the English call Australia. In truth, from Italy these are Antipodes here in Melbourne, the setting for the third race of the season that will be run on Sunday. This is the longest trip of the year in terms of distance travelled but many of us left Italy on 5 March! As you may appreciate, there is some homesickness among us, despite that fact that Melbourne is a very pleasant city. It is no surprise that those who chose to take time out between the Grand Prixs of Malaysia and Australia arrived in the capital of Victoria last week.    It would be great to climb onto a plane home having collected the first win of the season. It would be fine compensation for the efforts on the track and those at Maranello following events on a daily basis.   Today's two hours of free practice bode well for the weekend, though it is too early to make predictions on the Friday. Both Michael and Felipe declared that they were satisfied with the handling of the 248 F1 that did not have any reliability problems. The only question mark concerns the time needed to get the tyres up to temperature, considering that the conditions are decidedly autumnal. Today we worked in a slightly different to normal, concentrating mainly on the best set up of the car. We have clear ideas for the tyres. We will see what the weather is like tomorrow before deciding if it is worth trying the other set of tyres Bridgestone has supplied. There was a downpour in the late afternoon but tomorrow, according to the forecast provided by our partners, Meteo France, rain is not expected.   I think that we can go for a slot on the front row, even though the opposition is tough. McLaren, Honda, Renault, Williams, BMW and ourselves: there are at least twelve cars that are, potentially, pole position hopefuls. At least two of these will be disappointed, surprises aside. To find out how things go, the session will take place at 14 Melbourne time (5 in Italy and Central Europe).

 

The Bali blog

March 30, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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The life of a grand prix driver for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro really seems to be a varied one, covering everything from racing to rugby. After the excitement of the Malaysian Grand Prix, I headed off to Bali with my parents and my girlfriend. As I mentioned last time, I chose Bali simply because it’s a place I had never been to before. And yes, it really is a beautiful spot to visit. But, I’ll be honest with you and admit that maybe I’m not the best type of tourist as I did not bother too much with all the sights there are to see. Instead, I just enjoyed relaxing after the rush of two races in the space of one week.   I arrived here in Melbourne on Monday, while my family headed back home to Brazil. I have always liked this place as there is a real buzz about it and the people are very friendly and interested in the Grand Prix. One thing I have had to get used to as a Ferrari driver is that there is always a sponsor that needs some of your time, but usually it involves something new and different to do, so I am happy with that, as I am always up for something to do. Here in Melbourne, it involved playing Rugby Sevens, which means Rugby Union with seven players per side, instead of fifteen. Now I know that Italy are surprisingly competent at this sport, but it’s not something we Brazilians have ever shone at. I mean, for starters, the ball is the wrong shape! It’s very difficult to catch. But anyway, here in Melbourne near the circuit, I played in one team and Michael played in the other. I scored two “tries” whatever that means, but more importantly, I enjoyed myself and did not break any bones.   Tomorrow, Thursday gets more serious as I go to the track for the first engineering briefing meetings. The team did some testing back in Europe last week, which was constantly interrupted by rain, but as there is a wet forecast for much of this weekend, then maybe it will produce useful data. I am hoping for a good weekend here. For starter, although it might sound strange, there is something about the lifestyle here that reminds me of home in Brazil. Like us, the Australians like to live outdoors and have a good attitude to life. I have never done too well here in the races: a few years ago I got involved in a first corner accident. Then I had an engine problem and last year I finished ninth. So, this year, I really expect us to have a package that’s good enough to see us on the podium on Sunday afternoon.   Sto scoprendo che la vita di un pilota della Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro è davvero molto varia, dal rugby alle corse. Dopo l’eccitazione del Gran Premio della Malesia, sono partito per Bali con la mia famiglia e la mia fidanzata. Come ho gà detto, ho scelto Bali per la sua bellezza e perché non ci ero mai stato prima. Ma sarò onesto: non sono probabilmente la “migliore specie” di turista poiché ho pensato soprattutto a rilassarmi tra le due gare invece di godermi tutto il paesaggio che Bali poteva offrire. Sono arrivato lunedì scorso a Melbourne, mentre la mia famiglia è tornata in Brasile. Adoro veramente la vita a Melbourne, le persone sono davvero calde e c’è vera passione per il Grand Prix.  

 

...after malaysian GP

March 20, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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On Thursday afternoon at the Sepang circuit, I faced the journalists for the first time since Bahrain. We were all squeezed into the small Ferrari team air conditioned hospitality area, because you really don’t want to be standing in the sun for more than a couple of minutes in the Malaysian humidity. The news had just come out that I would have to drop ten places on the grid because my car needed an engine change, before the practice started on Friday. One press man asked me if I liked racing when I had to fight my way to the front from a low grid position. I told him I did and that I had done it a few times in the past. I don’t know if he believed me, but I think I showed him I was telling the truth on Sunday afternoon.   My race in Malaysia was all about waiting for the right moment and attacking at the right moment. I think starting last and finishing fifth was a great result. I lost a couple of seconds behind slow cars which cost me time. Anyway, I’m really happy with my pace and if I had started nearer the front, I think I could have been fighting for a place on the podium.   In the closing stages, I had a problem because I lost 2 kilos of fuel at the moment that the crew removed the fuel line from the car, so I had to save a lot of fuel during that stint. Michael was closing on me and I had to be really careful on the throttle pedal to save fuel. It wasn’t so easy for me, but in the end I was able to keep him behind me. Obviously he knew about my fuel problem. It was a normal fight for position which I managed really well and that makes me happy.   What was encouraging was our pace, because if we had been lighter on fuel I think we were on the same pace as the Renaults more or less. I would have to say we were competitive. But our strategy was great. Of course I lost out a bit behind slower cars, but when I had a clear track ahead of me, I could push hard and run at a competitive pace. The team strategists did a good job and it all worked out very well.   At the moment, I am still in Kuala Lumpur, but on Wednesday, I am heading off to Bali. Why Bali? Because I have never been before and I am always keen to see new places. I’ve heard it’s very beautiful.  It will be something of a Massa family affair as, apart from my girlfriend, my mother and father are also coming. Then on Sunday, I take an overnight flight to Melbourne and they all head home for Brazil.

 

The race will be a tough one, and not just for us!

March 18, 2006 · Posted by staffFerrari
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Sepang, 18 March - Qualifying did not go as smoothly as we would have wanted today at the Grand Prix of Malaysia. This morning we prefered to change Michael's engine as it was acting up in the same way that Felipe's had. It was a tough call to make as it was clear that we could have challenged for the leading places. Michael will be forced to start from the seventh row after being hit with the customary penalty that sees drivers drop ten places for an engine change during qualifying. Felipe, having worked on the race set up this morning did not take part in the second session so thathe could chopsar his fuel level for the start of the race. As you may have guessed, it was not a good day for the Scuderia. The reliability problem concerning an engine part was damaging as it compromised our chances of victory. Now we have to try to make a good comeback and get into the points.The latest weather reports do not predict rain, a factor that, given our grid position, would help. Anyway, we have not given up hope. The race will be a tough one, and not just for us!

 

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