Felipe Massa has said he is optimistic with Ferrari’s performance ahead of the new Formula 1 season, which begins in Bahrain this weekend.
Ferrari completed the most laps in pre-season testing, and were setting competitive times. Massa explains how his team have been comparing their performance with their rival’s. “We’re always watching the others, not just the final time, but also race simulation: for example Red Bull went out with tyre x and did this run, the tyre y and did that. The result is the there are many competitive teams: Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes, maybe Williams. And we are in there for sure”.
Speaking about his former teammate Massa does not underestimate Michael Schumacher, saying “He’s strong [and] he can win. But we [can] too”.
Massa also likes the look of aspects of the new Mercedes that the German will be driving. When asked if there was anything he would like to poach from his competitors new cars, he replied, “There are many details, but if I don’t know the data from the wind tunnel I can’t comment. Mercedes has a different nose, looking nice, the McLaren is strange… In the end it’s important that it works “.
The Brazilian was not so complimentary about the new teams on the grid. “I hope they won’t be a danger. There are 6-7 teams one second apart while those teams are 4 seconds behind. It’s not good for the sport and not good for them: it’s like two different series. They’ll suffer. And we’ll suffer too, when we have them in front of us during qualifying”.
The ban on re-fueling this year is likely to have an effect on racing. Massa doesn’t think that this puts undue emphasis on qualifying, and also doubts that overtaking will be more difficult. “Not much will change. If you’re driving a car with all that petrol on board it will be harder on the tyres and the possibility of making mistakes is higher: and the one behind you will benefit”.
He adds that managing fuel consumption will be an interesting new challenge. “There are things we can do to consume more or less fuel. If there are for example 15 laps left and you have more petrol on board than you need because there was traffic, there is a way to burn more”.
Massa can’t wait to put last year behind him. After his accident in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix last July, Felipe hopes have an uninterrupted championship challenge this season. “It’s a very important moment for us after a horrible year and difficult due to politics. We really want a good Championship. It was also a difficult moment for me with the accident. I’m concentrated, I’m ready 100%”.
When asked about his new teammate, double World Champion Fernando Alonso, Massa was sure that they would get on well. “We’re talking Italian. We also argued in Italian!” …”We’ve got many things in common, the way of life, the mentality. That’s also good for the team, which has the same mentality”.
Massa also became a proud father towards the end of 2009. “It’s fantastic. I’m in love with Felipinho, every day my wife sends me photos of him via cell phone, her is today’s! He’s great, he looks at me and he smiles. He’s got a good character and he let’s me know what he wants. He’s determined. And he has more hair than me”.
However, he warns his rivals that being a rival will not affect his mentality out on the track. “I have to work more. I have a son to feed now. But when I’m in the car I don’t think: I won’t go slower”.
Massa is looking forward to the race in Bahrain this Sunday, and is not worried about Ferrari’s relatively dismal end to 2009. “This is a fresh start for me, for all. We’re starting from scratch. I’ll be happy if I’ll have a good race and even happier if I win”.