Both of the Ferrari Formula One drivers have now had a drive in the Ferrari F2008 on the Fiorano test track and they seem to like it. The two spoke to media at the Ferrari Vrooom Ski Meeting, hosted at the Madonna di Campiglio Alpine resort.
"The car ran very well in Fiorano and of course the conditions were not ideal," said Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion . "It's hard to say exactly how you feel about the car, but for me the feeling was very good so that's the only way I can tell. "
The F2008, although an evolution of its predecessor, crucially has a shorter wheelbase in an effort to make it quicker on tracks with predominantly slower corners. Last year this made the Ferrari faster at some circuits and the McLaren at others.
This year will be interesting, McLaren and indeed Toyota have gone in the opposite direction, announcing a longer wheelbase for 2008. This will surely shake things up a bit.
Massa hinted that the changes have worked well and the car will still be at the front of the grid, explaining: "The numbers we have seen, the data in the wind tunnel are positive but of course we have to see what the others are going to do because even if our data is incredible, if others go faster than perhaps they have improved more than us"
Raikkonen also commented on the changed car, saying "I think we want to improve everywhere, the car, we know where we have the most difficult time in certain areas in races and on certain circuits."
There's still work to be done though. Ferrari stressed at the launch that the car, as unveiled, would have a very different aero package for the race.
"I think the car is going to be ready just before the start of the championship, so we have to develop the car. We are working on it for quite some time," commented Massa.
He was also concerned about reliability; the engine development may be frozen but there are a lot of other bits to break on an F1 car.
"we have the new car and we're going to have see its reliability. Last year we lost many points due to problems with reliability which ended many races" he said.
The two drivers will have a certain seven-time F1 world champion to help out. Michael Schumacher has made himself available to help develop the new car Raikkonen commented:
"If we are not able to test, it's good that he's doing it and for sure it's not going to hurt us. He has good experience of Formula One, he knows what he's doing. For me it's good that he does the tests if we cannot do it."
A big change for the drivers is the loss of the traction control and launch control. Massa had previously spoken about this claiming the loss of traction control will increase accidents and make the sport more dangerous in the wet.
When questioned this week, he saw it more of a challenge: "I think that during the races, we are going to be a bit more careful so without traction, we are going to have to drive a bit differently so as not to wear out the tyres," he explained.
"We have to take over what the electronics did in the past," he continued. "That doesn't mean that it's going to be something from another planet, no, we simply have to learn and be a softer on the pedal. I see that the lap times are more or less the same as against lap times with traction control at the end of the season. So it hasn't been that difficult to come to grips with the new regulations."
On launch control, he was similarly optimistic
"Up to last year, the technicians did the starts for us, in a way, now, all of us are going to have the cars on an equal basis, it is going to more fun for us."
"The driver is going to count more," he summed up his feelings.