Felipe Massa
Topic

Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa column: How I kept Lewis behind me in China

In his first exclusive column for Motorsport.com, Felipe Massa discusses the Chinese Grand Prix, including the now famous dinner with the other drivers and his battle with Lewis Hamilton in the race.

Felipe Massa column: How I kept Lewis behind me in China
Felipe Massa, Williams
Valtteri Bottas, Williams FW38 and Felipe Massa, Williams FW38 battle for position
Felipe Massa, Williams FW38
Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg, Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen, Daniil Kvyat, Esteban Gutierrez, Esteban Ocon, Marcus Ericsson, Felipe Nasr, Pascal Wehrlein, Felipe Massa, Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Carlos Sainz Jr., Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez
Jenson Button, McLaren MP4-31 and Felipe Massa, Williams FW38 battle for position
Felipe Massa, Williams FW38
Felipe Massa, Williams
Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Felipe Massa, Williams and Carlos Sainz Jr., Scuderia Toro Rosso on the drivers parade
Jenson Button, McLaren MP4-31 and Felipe Massa, Williams FW38 battle for position
Felipe Massa, Williams FW38
Felipe Massa, Williams FW38
Felipe Massa, Williams FW38
Felipe Massa, Williams FW38
Felipe Massa, Williams FW38
Felipe Massa, Williams FW38
Listen to this article

There is something very special that gives the Chinese Grand Prix a unique identity for me. Every time I come to Shanghai, before I even think about the track or the commitments of the weekend, there is a special tradition I have to take part in: meeting my fans.

I know some of them already and every year they wait for me in front of my hotel – sometimes for an entire day beforehand – awaiting my arrival.

In a lot of other countries, the ritual ends with a handshake, an autograph or a selfie. But in China, no.

There are gifts. And we are speaking about fans who know my life...sometimes better than me! They know the names of my friends and my family. This year I received gifts not only for myself but also for my son and for my niece.

It's really amazing to think of the enthusiasm that these fans give me. I'm thousands of kilometres away from home, so to be able to find people who value you in a warm and polite manner gives you a great feeling.

Drivers' dinner

In Shanghai there was also a very nice dinner that was organised between all the drivers. It may seem strange to say it, but in the end – while we have shared the same paddock for years – we do not really know each other that well.

When you climb into the car, everyone just thinks for themselves, and I am the first to want to overtake all my opponents and make my way to the front of the field.

But when you take off your helmet, we are still a bunch of good guys who share the same world, the same problems and the same goals.

That's why the Shanghai dinner was a nice chance for us to get together in a different context and tell stories that were not necessarily related to what we do on the track.

The atmosphere was very relaxed and cheerful, and I think that many of us returned to sleep in our hotel rooms with a very good feeling.

I am convinced that get-togethers like this are very useful, and I hope with pleasure that we can have things like this much more frequently.

The fight with Hamilton

After the dinner my thoughts returned to the battle on track, and on this front my Chinese Grand Prix was very positive.

In the final stages of the race I had to defend hard my sixth place from an attack from Lewis Hamilton, and it was tough.

We had the same tyres (he had changed one lap earlier than me) so on that front we were evenly matched. And while he had a problem with car damage, we must remember that it is still a Mercedes.

In the end, I managed to control the situation, and I think that was mostly down to the way I was able to manage the tyres.

My driving lines were very different in the race, because if I had used the same ones I did in qualifying then after a few laps my tyres would have been finished, especially the front ones.

I also made sure that I only went hard on the accelerator out of corners when the car was perfectly straight, and this technique worked really well.

I think for this race, that is what the difference was between myself and Valtteri Bottas, whose pace over the longer runs was not as good.

It also confirmed a lot of the information that I had provided to the team after the winter tests. It is always nice to be able to produce a result that comes after working with the engineers: as it becomes a bit of a prize that helps strengthen relationships inside the team.

Third best team

The sixth-place finish allowed me to leave Shanghai occupying the same position in the drivers' championship, and I think that is a positive assessment after three races.

Many people have asked me if I expected something more from the start of this season, but when you start any campaign all drivers have high expectations, hoping even for something that is greater than logic would tell you.

As a whole, I think Williams has made a good step forward compared to the end of 2015, but we cannot forget that our opponents have worked hard too.

At the end of last year we were fighting with Red Bull for the position of the third best team, and I still think today we are in the same situation.

We saw in Bahrain and Shanghai that Red Bull has improved a lot in terms of top speed, and I can only deduce that it has made some steps forward with its power unit.

Confirmation of that will come from Sochi, where there are some long straights, but I think we have a chance to play.

My goal, of course, is to stay ahead of them. 

shares
comments
F1 to discuss three-engine limit for 2018
Previous article

F1 to discuss three-engine limit for 2018

Next article

China tech debrief: How Red Bull pushed a Mercedes idea to the next level

China tech debrief: How Red Bull pushed a Mercedes idea to the next level
The 10 stories to watch out for across the rest of the 2022 F1 season Prime

The 10 stories to watch out for across the rest of the 2022 F1 season

It’s 13 down, nine to go as the Formula 1 teams pause for breath in the summer break. But what can we expect to happen over the next three months from Belgium to Abu Dhabi? Here's the key storylines to keep an eye out for the rest of the 2022 season

Nicholas Latifi: The under-fire F1 driver fighting for his future Prime

Nicholas Latifi: The under-fire F1 driver fighting for his future

Personable, articulate and devoid of the usual racing driver airs and graces, Nicholas Latifi is the last Formula 1 driver you’d expect to receive death threats, but such was the toxic legacy of his part in last year’s explosive season finale. And now, as ALEX KALINAUCKAS explains, he faces a battle to keep his place on the F1 grid…

Formula 1
Aug 13, 2022
The strange tyre travails faced by F1’s past heroes Prime

The strange tyre travails faced by F1’s past heroes

Modern grand prix drivers like to think the tyres they work with are unusually difficult and temperamental. But, says  MAURICE HAMILTON, their predecessors faced many of the same challenges – and some even stranger…

Formula 1
Aug 12, 2022
The returning fan car revolution that could suit F1 Prime

The returning fan car revolution that could suit F1

Gordon Murray's Brabham BT46B 'fan car' was Formula 1 engineering at perhaps its most outlandish. Now fan technology has been successfully utilised on the McMurtry Speirling at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, could it be adopted by grand prix racing once again?

Formula 1
Aug 11, 2022
Hamilton's first experience of turning silver into gold Prime

Hamilton's first experience of turning silver into gold

The seven-time F1 champion has been lumbered with a duff car before the 2022 Mercedes. Back in 2009, McLaren’s alchemists transformed the disastrous MP4-24. And now it’s happening again at his current team

Formula 1
Aug 11, 2022
Why few would blame Leclerc if he leaves Ferrari in future Prime

Why few would blame Leclerc if he leaves Ferrari in future

OPINION: Ferrari's numerous strategy blunders, as well as some of his own mistakes, have cost Charles Leclerc dearly in the 2022 Formula 1 title battle in the first half of the season. Though he is locked into a deal with Ferrari, few could blame Leclerc if he ultimately wanted to look elsewhere - just as Lewis Hamilton did with McLaren 10 years prior.

Formula 1
Aug 9, 2022
The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat Prime

The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat

After being ditched by McLaren earlier in his F1 career Sergio Perez fought his way back into a seat with a leading team. BEN EDWARDS thinks the same could be happening to another member of the current grid

Formula 1
Aug 8, 2022
How studying Schumacher helped make Coulthard a McLaren F1 mainstay Prime

How studying Schumacher helped make Coulthard a McLaren F1 mainstay

Winner of 13 grands prix including Monaco and survivor of a life-changing plane crash, David Coulthard could be forgiven for having eased into a quiet retirement – but, as MARK GALLAGHER explains, in fact he’s busier than ever, running an award-winning media company and championing diversity in motor racing. Not bad for someone who, by his own admission, wasn’t quite the fastest driver of his generation…

Formula 1
Aug 7, 2022