Saturday, October 29, 2011

Massa's long journey with champions as his measure stick

Felipe Massa drives on Sunday his F1-career's 150th Grand Prix -race. For the 30-year old Brazilian it's the 98th GP with Ferrari's red car, hence he will reach 100 in Brazil.

However Ferrari celebrated their driver's 150th race already two weeks ago in Korea, because the team added the race in Hungary from year 2009 in which Massa didn't participate due to his injury in qualification.

His latest victory came three years and 44 races ago in Brazil. His latest trophy comes from 18 races ago in Korea.

Massa has participated in most races at Ferrari after Michael Schumacher (180) and Rubens Barrichello (102).

The interviewed person asked about Räikkönen

Turun Sanomat was offered an opportunity for a laidback interview with Massa a day before the Indian GP -rush started. The driver is known as a very relaxed and quick-witted chap until Sunday morning. On the racing day the stress shows and feels.

Massa takes over the game immediately when the interview starts.

– I will start, he declares, takes the recorder from the reporter and asks him: - What do you think, will Kimi Räikkönen come back?

– What do you think yourself? I present him a counter-question.

– I believe that it could happen. Interesting case, no doubt about it.

Does it feel if a driver has kept a two year break from F1-driving - when at least Michael Schumacher has had difficult to come back after being away for three years?

– Michael has had a bit difficult times but when he returned he didn't have the same car anymore. One has to remember that when retiring Michael had a much more competitive car than he had when coming back again.

– Maybe the same applies to Kimi. In any case Kimi is still young. In that sense being away for two years doesn't mean much. If you are young, if you want to do this and train hard, then it's not impossible to get back to the same performance ability you had before, Massa thought.

– An experienced F1-driver always maintains a certain basis. It's only a question about getting in the right direction and the normal rythm.

Räikkönen has 156 F1-races, hence Massa will have only four races less when the season ends.

Four champions as team mates

Massa's merit is that he has been the team mate of as many as four world champions. With a little better luck he could have clinched the title himself in 2008.

How different are these team mates - Jacques Villeneuve, Michael Schumacher, Kimi Räikkönen and Fernando Alonso – from Massa's perspective?

– The combining factor is that working with each one of them has always been very professional. Of course they are all different personalities, drive in a different way and all represent different cultures. They all had their own style but a top driver understands how to drive fast. In that sense they are all identical.

– In Ferrari I'm used to always having a strong team mate. I have to do a perfect job all the time because if I miss something then I immediately lose. It was the same with Michael, Kimi and now Fernando.

– When I was racing with Villeneuve in Sauber I was younger but it was still my third year in F1. I had good experience behind me, I knew the team and I also believe that Jacques received something from me when we worked together.

– Then I became the team mate of a 7-times world champion. When you go to a top team you have to adopt a lot of how the work is done there. In addition to that I came to a new team where Schumacher had been for ten years.

Was it a relief when Schumacher retired and Räikkönen took his place?

– I wouldn't say that it was a relief but it was better from my point of view. When someone new comes to the team and you yourself are already there, it does give a strong feeling. I was very competitive in 2007, 2008 and even in 2009 until my accident.

Räikkönen won the WDC in 2007 and the next season Massa nearly did the same.

– It was a great season. We just lost some very important points.

– Losing the victory in Hungary was a very difficult moment as well as the pitlane-incident in Singapore but in Monaco I also lost one position in the pitlane when it took so long to change the front wing and in Canada again I had to go back to the pitlane because the fuel didn't go in the first time.

– The battle for the championship was awesome. I had a perfect weekend in Brazil when the season ended, getting the pole and winning the race. We didn't lose the championship there, we lost it in those points that we lost in some other races.

After recovering from his serious skull injury Massa returned to the track as Fernando Alonso's team mate. He beat his team mate in Bahrain qualification but the Spaniard has usually been ahead after that until now, when Massa has been leading 4-2 ever since Hungary.

– Last year I suffered a lot of the tyres. They were always too hard for my driving style and for the way our car was built. In a way it has been like that now too, since our car is always more competitive in the race than it is in qualification. It was once again difficult in the beginning but fortunately the endseason has gone much better - especially after the break in August.

On Friday practice in India Massa took the fastest time of the day. Hence he was the fastest for the first time since Silverstone practice day.

– Sure every track is different but there's no doubt about some similarities. For example the 10th corner resembles Turkey's 8th corner and some great parts are just like from Brazil.

– Every race is important but of course, if I could choose one victory out of these remaining races it would be Brazil. We have to squeeze until the end. The preparement for next season is already going on when we work with the new car.

– Our goal is that when we go on the track in February 2012 we will right away have a competitive car, Massa says.

Wintertests starts with new cars on 7th February on Jerez circuit.

Turun Sanomat, Greater Noida



Felipe Massa

30-year old Brazilian from Sao Paulo

Wife Raffaela and son Filipinho

Teams: Sauber (52 races) and Ferrari (97 races) – all and all 149 GP-races

11 victories (1. Turkey 2006 - 11. Brazil 2008)

15 poles (1. Turkey 2006 - 15. Brazil 2008)

33 podiums (1. Nürburgring 2006, 33. Korea 2010)

WC-bronze 2006, WC-silver 2008

Courtesy: Nicole

No comments: