Istanbul specialist Felipe Massa is stalking his third successive victory at the Speed Park and the Brazilian is confident he has the car underneath him to challenge for the top step of the rostrum once again.
The Brazilian dominated last year’s race from pole position after out-qualifying team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, despite carrying more fuel than his rival. And in 2006 the man from Sau Paulo answered his critics with his first career win, fending off Fernando Alonso to support then team-mate Michael Schumacher in the title fight.
Following a dominant showing in yesterday’s practice, which reinforced the impressive pace of both Massa and Ferrari around the undulating 5.3km Herman Tilke-designed circuit, the 27-year-old is confident he can make it three in a row.
“I feel comfortable on this track and I think I can be very competitive tomorrow and on Sunday in the race,â€ declared the Bahrain grand prix victor. “It would be fantastic to win again here, after having done it for the past two years.â€
Like most of the field yesterday Massa struggled with the low temperatures and had a moment himself when he spun off at Turn 8, the notorious triple apexer.
“The track is very fast, even if it’s still a bit dirty, which meant it was quite easy to make mistakes,â€ explained Massa.
“The low temperatures mean it is difficult to get the most out of the tyres on a first timed lap, especially on the harder ones. We tried various settings and now we need to look at the data from everything we have done over these three hours, to be as well prepared as possible.â€
Having notched up two DNFs in the opening two races Massa currently finds himself eleven points adrift of team-mate Raikkonen in the title race despite victory in Bahrain and a solid second place in Barcelona.
The Brazilian will be hoping his experience and speed around the Istanbul Speed Park will lift him back into contention for the title.