There's little to separate the drivers and teams currently at the top of the standings, with McLaren and Ferrari locked in battle to keep the upper hand, but after last week's test in Spain the Ferrari duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa are ...
There's little to separate the drivers and teams currently at the top of the standings, with McLaren and Ferrari locked in battle to keep the upper hand, but after last week's test in Spain the Ferrari duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa are confident that the Scuderia has made a step forward. Ominous news, perhaps, for McLaren which is just five points ahead of Ferrari after three races.
"We were able to improve the F2007 considerably, because the new components work really well and the car is now much closer to my style of driving," said Raikkonen, who shared testing duties with Massa at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya. "I'm much more optimistic now: we can attack the best way possible, as my friend Markku Alen usually says. It's true that you never know how competitive you really are compared to the other teams during the test sessions; obviously for that we have to wait for the qualifying and the race; but the lap times give us some hints."
"As I already said over the last weeks, we have to improve the performance in qualifying. It was not really easy for me to get all the potential out of the car on a single lap, because we never managed to prepare it at the best. Now I'm really happy about the steps forward: although it's really difficult to overtake another car, even when it's slower, it makes things a lot easier when you want to win, when you can start from the front."
The Finn topped the time sheets on his two days behind the wheel and Massa did likewise on his first day but was hampered by a technical problem on his second. Despite that, the Brazilian is as optimistic as his teammate that things are looking good. "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," Massa remarked.
"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."
There were some unusual aero configurations on display at Barcelona; both McLaren and Honda tried out different wings around the nose of the car, which led to some less than complementary descriptions. Once racing returns to Europe after the early flyaway events there's always revised packages being introduced and Ferrari is no different in that respect.
"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," said Massa. "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."
As winner of Bahrain Massa has reason to feel positive about his chances this coming weekend. "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."
Unsurprisingly, Raikkonen is equally determined to take the glory. "We come to Spain to win and we'll do the best to accomplish this goal," he stated. "It is a hard-fought championship and it is always important to gain as many points as possible. The best part of the season is yet to start: summer is coming and we race in Europe."