Q & A with Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa kicked off Ferrari's 2009 preparations with a day's shakedown testing of the new F60 at Mugello in Italy on Monday

Q & A with Felipe Massa

Although the day was more about troubleshooting than out-and-out performance, the Brazilian was left fairly upbeat about his initial impressions of the car having completed around 100 kilometres of the Italian circuit.

Car problems were almost certainly to be expected at this initial stage of F1's new-for-2009 machines - but the Brazilian is adamant that despite a whole raft of regulation changes for the year ahead that he will be back in the title hunt.

Massa spoke briefly to the gathered media straight after the test, with hearing from the 2008 championship runner-up about the new car, the challenges of new rules and how he hopes to bounce back from the disappointment of last year.

Q. What are your first impressions of the car after the shakedown test today?

Felipe Massa: Well, this is certainly a completely different car with respect to what we were accustomed to last year. There are many new regulations that have been changed and all of this is very visible to you - especially as the largest part of the regulations is very visible.

KERS is new, as you know, and the aerodynamics are very different. Now it is playing a completely different role with this car in the way we drive the car and go about the car.

As regards this first day of testing, we were not expecting to run 100 laps or to achieve a good lap time, because when such changes are introduced the shakedown is very, very difficult. Today we have solved some teething problems, and we have to consider this the very first day of testing, but I am quite happy to be here and to run around 100 kilometres.

Using KERS was the main source of concern, so we have used the KERS only a little bit, but we constantly increased the power and performance. We will certainly have the possibility to see the other changes in the next few tests, but we just wanted to check here that the car worked fine, the internal temperatures were okay and the performance of the gearbox and suspension were fine. With KERS we were positively impressed.

Q. Considering the dramatic changes in the regulations, it seems the car may vary a lot this season. How will they be to drive?

FM: Sure, this is certainly a car that is a turnaround. It will certainly be very different to drive this car. When you drive such a new car you feel it is different, but when you get more and more familiar I guess it will become something that is automatic.

When new changes are introduced it is always a problem, and this is the time when we are suffering. We remember traction control and there were a lot of questions this time last year. People said it was very difficult to drive the car, but we are now in a situation where the role of the driver is much more important.

Q. There appears to be a mood of uncertainty at Ferrari about the big change of regulations coming this year - with new aero rules, no testing, the return of slicks and questions about how to use Fridays. How do you sense the mood at the team?

FM: For the people working in the team, the motivation we have, the way we work, everybody in general is behaving in the same way as last year.

It is clear it is a turnaround, a great change, and the rules have brought about some changes in the way we work. But overall the mood is the same. I get a positive feeling in all of the sectors and all of the departments.

I feel we are doing our best, from our chairman Stefano (Domenicali) to the tyre department, there is a wish to move forward. I am pretty happy with the work that has been carried out at the team, and I feel that we will be constantly improving for week after week - as has been the case for the last few years.

This is the beginning of a different cycle in Formula One. It will not be an easy experience for sure, but we are 100 percent confident that we will be able to be competitive in the new championship.

Q. There has been some criticisms about the look of the 2009 cars. How do you think the new car looks?

FM: I was thinking about it while flying here from Brazil. I had seen several pictures, and drawings concerning the wind tunnel model, and as I said before the new car is always different.

I was thinking about the fact that we have always every year a very nice car. It is very exciting, so I expected to come here and it not to be as nice as we have always had. Although the regulations seems to make the car worse from a graphical point of view, I think the car is very nice. I hope it will be a fast car and a nice car - although I would always rather have an ugly car that was fast rather than a nice looking car that was slow. This car is hopefully both nice and fast.

Q. Was it fun out there today?

FM: Well, it is always different when you have other cars that are also running, because you can also have a comparison of laps times. So today you don't have as much fun, although our purpose was to have the new car run. So, from this point of view, we managed to conclude an important piece of work.

I hope the next week in Portugal we will be able to have a car able to achieve better lap times, and to have a car that is able to run the testing practice sessions from morning to evening. So it was not great fun today, but it was a good day.

Q. Today is the first time that many people have spoken to you since the Brazilian Grand Prix. Have you spoken to Lewis Hamilton since then and have you been able to frame the events of Sao Paulo in your mind since then?

FM: I saw him during the FIA Awards ceremony towards the end of the year, and I congratulated him for winning the championship. I guess that was the right thing to do.

During this (winter) holiday period I just put myself in a very normal framework, and tried to take on board the lesson to be able to grow from what happened last year. I am even more eager to win, to work to do my best - so even if we did not win the championship it didn't mean we didn't deserve it. It was just destiny.

This is just a further reason to be more motivated and more willing to fight to win this year's championship. Again, I will always try to do my best. I am not looking backwards; I am looking at the future. There are always sad days where you learn more than on good days. On sad days you learn a lot.

It was nice on the one hand because I won the Brazilian GP, but on the other hand it was important to learn an important lesson for the future.

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