Massa: "I think this is the best circuit on the current calendar" "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...
Massa: "I think this is the best circuit on the current calendar"
"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."
Massa: "All six races are equally important"
Spa-Francorchamps - Felipe Massa had his usual Thursday afternoon meeting with the press, in the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro Media motorhome in the Spa paddock and began by expressing his confidence for the coming weekend. "I feel really comfortable here and I still remember the great race I had here last year, being very competitive with my team-mate, Kimi," he began. "I showed I had a good pace in both qualifying and the race and that means I am optimistic about having a good weekend now. But of course, every year is different and this year, the field is very competitive. We have some new parts, on the aerodynamic side for this race, even though we did not test them at Monza, as that track has nothing in common with this one. We still need to improve the car a little bit but I hope that for this race we have done enough to still be ahead of our rivals. However, as we know, if it rains at Spa, it can be a complete lottery, as so many other factors can play their part, like for example when you time your pit stops."
Unusually, a TV reporter asked him what part luck played in his career and Massa revealed it is not a concept he really believes in. "I don't feel I'm unlucky, nor do I feel I have the luck of the devil!" he laughed. "It works both ways - look what happened in Hungary where I had to retire when leading and then in Magny-Cours when I was second for much of the time but ended up winning. The important thing is to do the best job possible and if a bit of good luck comes your way then so be it."
When talking about Spa-Francorchamps, the conversation inevitably turns to Michael Schumacher who won here six times and Massa was happy to praise his former team-mate. "It's true that Michael was the king of Spa, so maybe I should call him tonight and ask him for some tips," joked the Brazilian. "Spa is a very special track, because it is so quick and you have so many changes of direction. At the moment I feel very happy with my driving and with the consistency of my performance so let's hope I can carry on and follow Michael's example, even if I cannot compare myself to him as I haven't even won one championship. He was incomparable, together with Senna, one of the greatest two drivers ever. I learnt a lot from him in terms of how to work on the car and how to ensure the team is working to help me and how to use that support. I am growing and learning all the time and feel I have reached quite a high level."
And the inevitable question regarding the state of the championship between him and Raikkonen. "I have always felt capable of winning and the team have always known this and I don't need to make them believe it. Last year, we reached a point where my chances of taking the title had gone and from that moment on, I was very happy to work for the good of the team and I was happy that the team won both titles last year. I feel I have the full support of the team in my fight to become champion. But at the moment there are 60 points available and the difference between those of us leading the championship is very small, so there is no way we are thinking about anything other than just doing the best job possible on the track. On Sunday I will do my best to win the race and there is no need to think further than that at the moment. Of course these last two races in Europe are important, but imagine I win them both, but Hamilton is second: then the next four being more important still. So all six races are equally important."