Felipe Massa is ready to take on the challenge of being a Ferrari race driver in 2006 and expects the team to give him its full support. The 24 year-old Brazilian has been the subject of much speculation as he prepares to line up alongside ...
Felipe Massa is ready to take on the challenge of being a Ferrari race driver in 2006 and expects the team to give him its full support. The 24 year-old Brazilian has been the subject of much speculation as he prepares to line up alongside seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, who is widely considered to be number one at Maranello.
Massa refuted that his contract involves a number two status to Schumacher but acknowledged that, considering Michael's contribution to, and successes with, Ferrari, it's hardly surprising the German has the team's backing.
"My contract doesn't say anything (about status), it says that I have to do my best and that the team will give me full support and I have seen that in testing," Massa said at a press conference during Ferrari's winter event at Madonna di Campiglio.
Referring to Schumacher, he added: "On the other hand, when you have someone who came here after (Ferrari had) nearly 20 years without a (title) victory and he goes and wins the world championship five years in a row then for sure he is going to have incredible support."
"Every new driver needs to win the support of the team but I think it is easier for the team to make two cars that are the same rather than two different ones and I think they want the most number of points for the team. To get advice from someone like him (Schumacher) is very valuable and he has always been very kind to me."
Not only does Massa have Schumacher to contend with, there are also the rumours of Kimi Raikkonen and/or MotoGP champ Valentino Rossi eyeing up a Ferrari race seat for 2007. Massa only has a one year contract with the Scuderia and there's plenty of speculation about what may happen.
Felipe shrugs it off. "Everyone is talking about 2007 when we are at the start of the 2006 season and that is a bit funny," he commented. "But I'm calm. When I talk to the people here, Ross Brawn, Jean Todt and so on, they are all talking about 2006."
There's also plenty of speculation about how Ferrari will fare in 2006. The problems the team struggled with in 2005 were often put down to tyres and the rule of only one set being allowed for both qualifying and the race. Tyre changes will make a return this season and Massa believes it's one thing that will make a difference.
"Everyone knows we had a difficult year with tyres but there has been an improvement and there are more improvements to come," he said. "The tyre rule change will help us. There have not been many rules in recent years that have helped us but this one does."