Massa: We believe our car is not too bad in the high speed corners
5 July, 2012
Jul.5 (Ferrari) After three street circuits on the bounce, Monaco, Montreal and Valencia, Ferrari driver Felipe Massa is looking forward to tackling the very different characteristics of the high speed Silverstone track and this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
“It’s difficult to have a clear picture of how competitive we should be,” admits the Scuderia Ferrari driver. “Especially this year, we have seen results in the races that we could never have expected. Silverstone is a very different track to the last few, so we need to be ready for everything and arrive as well prepared as possible. Who knows, maybe Silverstone can be even better than expected for us. But if you look at Valencia where we had 13 cars [wthin] three tenths in Q2, it shows you really cannot make predictions this season. However, we believe our car is not too bad in the high speed corners and so I feel we should discover a good F2012 when we start practice there on Friday.”
As the home race for eight of the twelve Formula One teams, the famous airfield circuit enjoys a special place on the calendar and Felipe shares the general enthusiasm for this race.
“I really like Silverstone for the atmosphere there and the track, which is very enjoyable to drive,” reckons the Brazilian. “It is definitely one of the favourites, probably for 99% of the drivers, because it really flows and has some challenging high speed corners. Of course, the weather is always a factor and I’ve seen the forecast, which is for quite a lot of rain, maybe a forty per cent chance every day.”
“To be honest, a wet day at Silverstone is bad for the spectators around the circuit, but I don’t mind driving in the rain and I think most of the drivers feel the same, because we have all experienced these conditions right from when we first started racing in karts. It can even be fun. However, there are certain conditions, like when there is a lot of water on track and you end up starting a race behind the Safety Car for example, when this is definitely not an easy situation: it’s okay if you are right at the front, but if you’re not in the top three on track, you actually have to look to the side rather than straight ahead to see where you are and this is the only type of condition we all hate, as you are driving blind.”
One could hardly expect the Ferrari man to have a bad word to say about Silverstone, given that for the past six years, the Brazilian’s race engineer has been Englishman Rob Smedley.
“I’ve worked with Rob since 2006, starting with him as my race engineer at the Nurburgring,” recalls Felipe. “After all this time, he knows exactly what I want and need from a car and he understands everything about my driving style. However, every year the car changes, the tyres are different and many other elements change from one year to the next so we always have to learn together.”
“This year, for example, the first few races were a bit difficult, but from then on we changed direction in some areas and now, the work in terms of finding the right set-up at every track seems much more automatic. At this point of the season I feel much stronger thanks to this.”
“It’s not just a technical understanding that the two men share, “I know people comment on the fact he’s got a strong accent from the north of England, which is where he comes from, but actually I find him much easier to understand than many other English people. I understand him 100% clearly. Maybe when he speaks to his family – and I’ve met his father – he’s not so easy to understand!”
Since Valencia, Felipe has spent time at Maranello, working on the simulator and also attending a Ferrari owner’s meeting. “I like this type of event, because as a Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 driver, I do get involved in the development of new Ferrari road cars,” he explained. “We give our comments and ideas and say what we feel about the balance of the car, how it is set up, how the engine feels, the gearbox, brakes, everything. That is definitely very important, especially when it happens that we can pass some of the knowledge we gain from the F1 car to the road cars. Whenever I drive a road car on a race track, I am always surprised at the way these Ferraris perform, so imagine what it must feel like to non-professional drivers.”
There was one disappointment in Massa’s timetable since the last race and that came as he watched the final of the European Football Championships. “As someone whose family originally comes from Italy, of course I was disappointed with the result, although for the “Azzurri” to be beaten by this Spanish team is no disgrace,” reckoned Felipe.
“My feeling is that this Spanish team is the strongest in the world and that comes mainly from the fact that, even if the players are all individually very talented, it is the way they play together as a team which is what makes the difference. It helps that so many players come from two great teams like Barcelona especially and also Real Madrid, because they are used to playing at this high level together all the time. It’s not really surprising, because even if we look at Formula 1, we can see that it is not enough to have a top driver, or the best engine, you need the whole team to be working together to achieve true success.”