Felipe Massa is ecstatic with the level of grip afforded from his Ferrari even with adaptations that anticipate next year s aerodynamic restrictions.
The Brazilian ran a modified version of his F2008 at the four-day Barcelona test last week in preperation for 2009 which will see greater aerodynamic constraints imposed on the teams as well as the re-introduction of slick tyres.
Massa was astonished by the level of grip that was available to him despite running with reduced downforce.
“The team adapted the car to have less downforce when running these tyres,â€ the 26-year-old revealed on his official website, “but when I had a go it was basically this year s car with no changes and it was quite incredible as the car had a lot of downforce so the lap times were also very impressive.â€
“It felt like I was driving a completely new car as you need to be a lot more aggressive in your driving style, as the grip level was much higher than usual. From a driving point of view it was really amazing and it was a great pleasure to get the maximum out of the performance of the car, making the most of the aerodynamic and mechanical grip and setting some incredible lap times.â€
Alongside the 2009-specification test, Ferrari, like the rest of the paddock, has been developing a number of new components to bring to the start of the European season this week. Most visibly was the introduction of a hole in the nose cone channel the hot air that builds up under the car. However, Massa has become the latest in the Ferrari camp to downplay the significance of the component.
“I was the first to test our new and much discussed nose with the slot in it on the F2008. Everyone was talking about this but only because it is so highly visible, but in reality, it represents just a small step forward in our performance. It is not this that will make the car one second a lap quicker!â€
Massa arrives at the Spanish Grand Prix this week fresh from race victory at Bahrain a fortnight ago week ago. The Brazilian will be hoping to replicate the success he enjoyed last year when he followed up his Bahrain triumph with his second consecutive win of the season having emerged unscathed from a first-corner tussle with Fernando Alonso.
“Last year I won here what was, to be honest, an amazing race and for me it is difficult to forget! I remember being very very close to Alonso in qualifying and he was in a very determined mood as he was at his home race and in a competitive car. It was a tough competition between us. I made a very good start and maintained the advantage through the first corner where Alonso tried everything he knew to pass me. That start was really his only chance to get by because we had a very good strategy.â€
“We had a bit of a moment next to one another in the first corner, but I had the inside line and managed to stay in front. I had a very good pace in the race and from then on it was not so difficult to control the pace.â€