Felipe Massa has yet to score a podium in 2009, but as he explained to the press at Silverstone on Thursday he has high hopes ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix.
The Ferrari driver is optimistic that modifications to the Ferrari this weekend will allow him to fight at the front, as he remains convinced that this team can triumph this season. AUTOSPORT was there to hear what he had to say.
Q. In Turkey you lost pace from free practice into qualifying and then more in the race. Can you explain why that was?
Felipe Massa: Well, the reason is that the temperature increased a lot from the free practice to the race and in qualifying. And we had not enough downforce on the car, so for sure having a bigger rear wing on the car was the right direction for qualifying and the race. So the temperature increased a lot and it made a big difference to the tyres, and we were losing massively in sector one where we needed the downforce - although we were not losing so much on the Friday and the Saturday morning. So we understood almost 100 percent the problem, but it was too late to change. Here for sure we are going to start in a different way.
Q. The team understands what happened in Turkey, and there are a lot of tweaks and updates on the car. How optimistic are you that you can be fighting at the front this weekend?
FM: Well I am optimistic. I think we can really have a competitive car. I think what we showed in Turkey was not really what we could have shown at the end of the day, which is why I am quite optimistic that maybe we understood the problem in Turkey so we can bring the best performance to this weekend, and have a much better car as well.
Q. It is quite cold here in England. In some races you have struggled with the prime tyre which has a higher temperature working range, do you expect a similar case here?
FM: Yes, I think if it is cold it will be a problem for everybody. So with a very high working range tyre, which we have here, when it is cold we know it is very difficult to make it work. So when it is cold it will be a big problem for many teams.
Q. If we don't come back to Silverstone, how much will you miss the track?
FM: It depends how the next British Grand Prix is going to be, and how is the track. If it is a great track, maybe we are not going to miss it so much. If it is a worse track than here, then everybody will miss Silverstone. We need to wait and see how the next solution is going to be - but for sure it is a very important race.
Q. How much are you being informed by the team about the latest developments in the FIA/FOTA battle and regarding Ferrari's entry?
FM: I follow everything that happens. So, I am together with my team and I know the direction of the team and I agree with them. So whatever they decide to do, I will be a Ferrari driver.
Q. Could you explain why it is so difficult for big teams to catch two independent teams like Brawn and Red Bull Racing?
FM: Well, first of all Brawn is not a small team. So everything they put in this car was coming from Honda, and they had a lot of money. Many people say that Brawn started from zero and had fantastic success, but that is not true definitely. They were the first ones who started to build this car with a massive amount of money.
And secondly the rules change was a big impact for some big teams, especially Ferrari and McLaren who were fighting until the very end of the championship. So, I think if you see how we started the championship and how we are now, we made a big step forward even compared to the teams that were already in front of us at the beginning of the championship. So I think we are doing a good development, working very well with the development of the car, but for sure the gap was too big at the beginning of the season.
Q. If the gap was too big then it means that you cannot reasonably beat Brawn this season. So how do you approach each race?
FM: Let's try to win as many races as possible - or be in the best position possible. What can you do? Sitting on the floor and crying will not change anything. We need to work, so we are working. We were already working many months ago, we made a big step forward, and we will keep working and see where we can arrive, so that is what we want to do.
Q. So how big is your frustration then?
FM: Well, at the end of the day when you come into the weekend and you know you have not the car to win the race, but you know you took the best out of the car - and drove 100 per cent to get the best position possible with that car....for sure it is frustrating not being able to win the race, but you feel happy because you know you did everything you could. So, we have so many ways of working, and we are professional. We know our possibilities, and we know the success will come with the work.
Q. But Red Bull Racing is far behind Brawn, so is Brawn unbeatable?
FM: They are not far away.
Q. They seemed to be in Istanbul?
FM: Not far away. They are not far away, when they are one tenth slower or two tenths slower that is not far away.
Q. But do you think Brawn is killing the spectacle?
FM: Well, for sure people at home prefer to see a big fight for first position. But I cannot say that. They did a good job. They were clever to work on this car, so as I said we need to work to improve the situation. That is it.
Q. Do you think this Ferrari still has the potential to win a race this year?
FM: I think so. I think we have potential. As I said, looking at the development we did from the beginning of the season to now, for sure it is always easy to see the result at the end of the day, and easy to say whatever we want. If you look at the facts - we made a big step forward and I believe that we can improve even more, and we can arrive to the point to win some races. And I hope!