Felipe Massa has left Monaco for Canada, and the race ten days ago in the Principality has given the Ferrari driver a confidence boost after a difficult first few races this year.
Going into the Monaco event, the Brazilian expressed the hope that it would signal a new beginning, a new start to his championship. Is that how it turned out? “I think so, because Monaco was a good race weekend for me, as I was competitive right from the start of free practice,” recalled the Brazilian. “Throughout the weekend, I was able to be consistent, in practice, qualifying and the race and the car felt comfortable for me to drive. I really liked the car there and it was working in the right direction to suit my style and I hope this positive trend can continue, starting with the race in Canada and then through to the end of the championship.”
As to why there was this sudden change, which saw Massa run competitively, posting times much closer to those of his team-mate Alonso than earlier in the year, Felipe reckoned there were a variety of possible explanations. “One is that the set-up required for Monaco is very different to that at other tracks and, even if the street circuit is unique, we can at least follow the direction we took there and make it work at other tracks,” he explained. “It might not be a normal situation, but maybe it is the best direction to go in to make the F2012 work for me. It’s true that there are fewer places that exert high lateral forces on the car at Monaco and dealing with those forces was a weak point with our car. We have even tried this approach in the simulator, but sometimes, it’s not easy to get a clear answer there, which is why we keep experimenting at the race tracks.”
The lack of results this year had definitely put pressure on the Brazilian, pressure which came from outside the team not within it and the Monaco result has removed a little of that strain. “I definitely feel more confident now,” admitted the Ferrari man. “I feel stronger as well and it’s also true that if Monaco was a good race, I was not that happy because, after the work I had done right from first practice, I had expected to be fighting for a podium finish. We had a chance of doing that, we had a good enough pace, but a better qualifying performance would have improved our chances on Sunday. It was very good compared to the start of the season, but we cannot be satisfied and now I want us to work hard to get something more. If we find the right direction, I know what I can do.”
As for this weekend in Montreal, Massa is hopeful of a good showing on another track that is out of the ordinary. “You have a lot of chicanes, so you need a car that is good over the kerbs and actually, some aspects are similar to Monaco, the biggest difference in Montreal being that you need good speed on the long straight. You also need traction coming out of the chicanes and you have to find the right compromise, because you can’t just put more downforce on the car, as you then get too much drag for the fast straight sections.” In Monaco the tyres never really degraded, even in the first practice session, which was surprising and we have the same Soft and Supersoft this weekend, so it will be vital to understand the tyres’ performance on Friday to start planning our race strategy.”
Last month, along with Alonso, Massa was at Fiorano when Jacques Villeneuve was at the wheel of a Ferrari originally driven by his late father Gilles. “I like going to Canada very much and this year, with the 30th anniversary of the death of Gilles Villeneuve, it will be a very important weekend in Montreal,” reckons Felipe. “Ferrari has always had a lot of support there, partly because of Gilles and this should be a further motivation for the Scuderia to do a good job for all the fans there. Canadian people love Formula 1 and Montreal gives us a great welcome, so let’s hope we can pay them back with a nice result. Of course, we continue our plan of constantly improving the F2012, because even the slightest performance gain can mean more places on the grid or in the race and we will have some updates this weekend. It will make for a very busy Friday, as we combine race preparation with evaluating our new elements. Hopefully the car will be even stronger than in Monaco and I can continue to bring home points to help the team.”