Felipe Massa: “We must work to improve still further”
Felipe Massa was one of five drivers in the FIA press conference at the Hungaroring circuit this afternoon; all of them invited because of a specific link to this Grand Prix.
Some were past winners, others had made their debut at this track but the somewhat macabre reason in the Ferrari man’s case was that he suffered a terrible accident here in 2009. The Brazilian admitted this had not been a particularly successful venue for him. “In 2007, I had to start from the back, after problems in qualifying,” he recalled. “Then in 2008, I was leading with three laps to go until I had an engine failure and in 2009 came my accident. In fact last year, when I finished fourth was my best result, so this year I hope a podium will be possible and of course I will be fighting for the win.”
The podium is definitely more likely than earlier in the year. “The last two races have been okay for us and I have been able to fight at the front,” said Felipe. “They were also two good races in terms of the fights I had and now we must work to improve still further.” As for racing at the Hungaroring just a few days after the Nurburgring event, Felipe felt it was no problem for the drivers. “It is not too demanding,” he said. “Anyway, this last back-to-back is the best one as we know we have a long break coming. However, for the team personnel, it is always tough as they have not had any time off since the last race.” Asked why his team-mate had achieved better results so far this season, Felipe was his usual blunt self. “Because Fernando has done a better job than me and I have no problem saying that.
But I am working on improving, looking at car set-up and other aspects of overall performance. I am pushing hard on this all the time.” There was an amusing moment at the end of the conference, when the drivers were asked how soon they were leaving Budapest after the race, to start their summer holidays. “I am going back to Brazil for a short while, began Felipe. Even though it’s winter and not so warm, home is always home.” Then, to the specific question as to his time schedule, he said he was leaving on Sunday night, except that everyone in the room thought he said Saturday night! “No, that would not be so good,” laughed the Scuderia Ferrari driver. “It would remind me too much of where I was on Saturday night two years ago here…”
Alonso: “We want the hottest temperatures possible”
Having arrived with the team from Maranello today, Fernando Alonso faced the media on another wet Thursday, after the one in Nurburgring a week ago. With his 30th birthday tomorrow, the Scuderia Ferrari driver was asked to look at similarities with Michael Schumacher, who was with Ferrari when he was 30, had also won two titles and had 20 race wins to his name. “I never thought to have two world championships by the time I was thirty, because I know how difficult it is to win in Formula 1 and how difficult it is to succeed here,” began the Spaniard.
“I was extremely lucky to get all the wins I have to date, but I am not thinking of having seven world titles by the time I am 42. At the moment, Formula 1 is very competitive, very close and it will be very difficult for someone to be as dominant as Ferrari was with Michael, so I think seven titles is a record that will last for many years. In 2007, I missed out on a third title by one point and I also missed the chance last year in Abu Dhabi. That means that on four occasions I have been fighting for the title at the last race of the season and I have won two and lost two, which I feel is fair. Let’s see, if a fifth opportunity comes, we will see if I can win it again.”
After strong showings in recent races, the Ferrari driver was asked if the Scuderia could be dominant here. “I don’t think we can be dominant this weekend as dominant only applies to Red Bull at the moment,” maintained Fernando. “We need to have both cars consistently in the top three in qualifying and the race if we want to say that Ferrari is dominant. It was a nice surprise for us to see how competitive our car was in Silverstone and at the Nurburgring, we are pretty certain that if the temperature had been about 10 degrees higher, our performance could have been better. Hopefully here we will have a hot weekend, although the forecast does not predict that and then we can see how competitive we are here.
We still need to make another step forward as Red Bull is still the reference point and yes,, we would like to see a strong McLaren to help our chances in the championship. There is no doubt that the soft and super soft tyres seem to work a bit better on our car, as we are gentle on the tyres and can maximise them for the race, running long stints with no degradation. Also in qualifying, where these tyres warm-up quickly they suit us, so we should be okay here and have a better weekend than in Nurbugring. We want the hottest temperatures possible, both ambient and track. Let’s hope on Saturday and Sunday we have 40 degrees!”
Overtaking has been a media topic all year and Fernando holds the view that one element holds the key to all the passing moves. “Even without KERS or DRS, with these current tyres we would see plenty of overtaking. Obviously the DRS is an extra help, allowing you to overtake maybe even when you have two cars with tyres in similar condition, but that would only happen about once per race. But with these tyres you get at least ten or fifteen passing moves per race.”