Massa: New Ferrari ‘much better’ than 2012

Felipe Massa has clarified his recent assessment that the 2013 Ferrari is “on a different planet” compared to last year’s red car.

Although the Brazilian struggled for much of last season, the Maranello team and Fernando Alonso recovered sufficiently so that the Spaniard was a title challenger right until the last lap.

So if the F138 is “on a different planet”, why then are commentators saying Red Bull, Lotus and possibly McLaren are currently looking better in pre-season testing?

Asked about the ‘planet’ comment, Massa told O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper: “Yes, I said it, but I was comparing it (the F138) with what we had at the beginning of last year’s testing.

“This (2013) car is good,” he added, “but still ‘green’. When we develop it, we will see.

“I have seen people doing good times, like Red Bull, Lotus McLaren. As far as we can talk, we will have a package of new components here (in Barcelona) next week and then in Melbourne. But we are in a much better condition than in 2012,” said Massa.

Source:GMM

Lauda: Red Bull ‘best’ after Jerez test

Felipe Massa, who clocked the fastest overall time at last week’s Jerez test, has declared the Ferrari F138 “better” than its predecessor.

“It’s more consistent, better in braking, in and out of the corners and easier to understand,” he is quoted by Brazil’s O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper.

The Italian team’s experienced new test driver Pedro de la Rosa, who tried the 2013 car on Friday, agreed: “The car is well balanced and responds well to changes.”

He told AS newspaper: “There are no problems, but until the end of the Barcelona tests it’s absurd to draw any further conclusions.”

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo told Italy’s Sky Sport 24 that the F138 is “in line with what we expected”.

“But the one we are testing is different to the car that will start the season,” he added.

Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen was fastest as the Jerez test concluded on Friday.

But Niki Lauda – F1 legend, German-language commentator and new Mercedes chairman – thinks Red Bull has “the best” car after the first week of pre-season running.

“After that I see a group with McLaren, Lotus, Ferrari and us (Mercedes),” the triple world champion said.

Jo Ramirez, the former long-time McLaren team manager now involved with countryman Sergio Perez, agreed: “Red Bull, McLaren and Lotus are fast and consistent.

“Ferrari is next and then Mercedes, but the differences are small. It will be another hotly contested championship.”

Source:GMM

‘Downbeat’ Massa fastest in new Ferrari

Felipe Massa emotions were in the brazing zone on Thursday, despite putting Ferrari’s new F138 on top of the test timesheets at Jerez.

“It means nothing,” said the Brazilian. “Several teams have very quick and well balanced cars and so I am 100 per cent keeping my feet on the ground.”

Indeed, those at the southern Spanish circuit also sensed Massa’s caution: a British Sky reporter saying he seemed “downbeat”.

And Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt agreed: “Satisfaction looks different. Felipe Massa sat on his stool in the Ferrari tent for his press conference and conveyed little enthusiasm.”

Although much quicker than the Briton, Massa recalled Jenson Button’s “incredible” fastest lap of the opening day.

“With the hard tyres, the first day of testing, with the dirty track and everything else … it was a really fast lap.

“I did not have the car to do that on the first day,” said Massa.

“If we are to be in that position at the first race then we need to work — a lot.”

World champion Sebastian Vettel, returning to work with Red Bull on Thursday, also sounded sceptical about Massa’s Thursday pace: “Today we left the laptime-hunting to others,” he is quoted by Bild newspaper.

Even Fernando Alonso, training in Dubai at present, seems none too interested in Massa’s progress. “I have not talked to him,” Massa confirmed after Thursday’s running.

But the Spaniard wrote on Twitter: “Obviously I’m following the test with the team and I have mails with all info.”

Writing for O Estado de S.Paulo, Livio Oricchio thinks the current pecking order could be Red Bull slightly ahead of McLaren, followed by Lotus and Ferrari.

Massa agrees that Red Bull is keeping its cards close to its chest, “as they always do”.

Lotus, however, is not hiding its optimism. “The car looks fast,” said team owner Gerard Lopez, according to Finland’s Turun Sanomat, after Kimi Raikkonen ran in the E21 for the first time on Thursday.

“We had a fast car last year but this seems even better,” he added.

Finally, Mercedes had a good day at last, with Nico Rosberg putting in a gargantuan 148 laps in the new W04, which on Tuesday and Wednesday failed spectacularly.

“It really put a smile on everybody’s face,” said the German, who was second fastest.

Source:GMM

Horner: I would not have kept Massa

According to Red Bull’s Christian Horner, Felipe Massa is lucky to have kept his seat at Ferrari.

Asked if he would have inked a new deal with Brazilian Massa in 2013, Horner admitted: “No, I don’t think I would have. Unfortunately, it’s a tough business, and results-based,” he told the book The Official Formula 1 Season Review 2012.

“You’ve got to look at what the guy in the other car (Fernando Alonso) – which we must assume is equal equipment – is achieving.”

Horner said it is obvious that Ferrari did consider axing Massa, who made his debut for the fabled Maranello based team alongside Michael Schumacher in 2006.

“They obviously had a look at other drivers – at least one of ours! – so they were obviously concerned about his form, but their options seemed to become limited,” he said.

Horner said Sergio Perez, who was eventually signed by McLaren for 2013 and beyond, initially seemed “a shoe-in” for Massa’s seat.

“Then Felipe obviously picked his form up in the last third of the year,” he added.

“They were obviously deliberating – the messages coming out of Maranello confirmed that – and probably when the music stopped they realised that the option they had was best for them.”

During Ferrari’s recent Maranello Christmas party, team president Luca di Montezemolo joked about Massa’s mid-season return to form in 2013.

“I don’t know where you went in the first part of the year,” he smiled to Massa, “but I am very pleased you came back.”

Source:GMM

Massa’s old diffuser better than Alonso’s new in Austin

As was rumoured before F1 arrived in Austin last week, the latest developments for Fernando Alonso’s title-contending Ferrari did not work.

New pieces, including a new diffuser, were tried in a straight line at the Idiada facility in Spain, prior to the US grand prix. It was rumoured immediately afterwards that the real-world data did not match up with what was produced in the wind tunnel. Still, the new diffuser was fitted to Spaniard Alonso’s F2012 in Austin, before he was roundly out-performed by teammate Felipe Massa all weekend.

“Yes, indeed, Felipe Massa had the old diffuser and it worked better,” former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari told the Spanish sports daily AS.

And Brazilian Massa confirmed to Marca newspaper: “Everything was the same except the diffuser. I had it available, but I decided I’d be better with the old one. That was the only difference.”

Alonso said “It’s not always the case that the latest part is the best choice”.

Source:GMM

Ferrari checked with FIA before changing Austin grid

Nov.19 (GMM) Stefano Domenicali had his head held high when he answered a clear “yes” to a post-race question from the media on Sunday.

Just before the race, Ferrari’s team boss had approved mechanics breaking a seal on Felipe Massa’s gearbox not to fix the unit, but simply to create a penalty that would benefit Fernando Alonso.

Asked if that is within the so-called ‘spirit’ of the rules, Domenicali insisted: “Yes, otherwise I would not have done it.

“It is something that is within our possibility to do it,” said the Italian, revealing that the famous Maranello based team even checked with the FIA beforehand.

As ever in F1, the purists were split over the decency of the Massa sabotage, but most had to agree that legendary team founder Enzo Ferrari would have approved.

But a rival team boss is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport: “That is not what the gearbox rule is for.”

McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh was happy to put his name to his critique.

“Lest we forget, when Fernando was with us it was not doing those things that meant that Fernando left us,” he said.

“You all have to go racing the way you see fit. But I think if I had qualified on the fast side of the grid and then been moved to the slow side I would have been very pissed off.”

Britain’s Daily Mail said the Massa drop is “at odds with the wider sporting ethos”, while the Times said F1 should be about racing on track “as fairly as possible”.

Domenicali pointed out that Ferrari was at least honest.

“We could have easily simulated something but we wanted to be completely transparent. If another team boss said we did not make the right decision, he’s lying.”

Indeed, Domenicali said Ferrari made the decision so late in the day because there were rumours Red Bull was ready to respond by breaking into Mark Webber’s gearbox.

“That’s part of the strategic decisions. It’s part of the game,” he insisted.

Massa, who has signed on for another year in 2013, took the decision on the chin but admitted he was not “jumping for joy”. “It’s difficult to find a driver like me,” smiled the 31-year-old, whose countryman, friend and former Ferrari number 2 Rubens Barrichello was in the paddock on Sunday.

Soucrce:GMM

Massa’s deliberate penalty gives Alonso title boost

Ferrari on Sunday sparked a pre-race controversy by deliberately inflicting a penalty on Felipe Massa.

A long-life gearbox rule means that breaking an official FIA ‘seal’ – usually necessary only in the event of a technical problem – incurs a five-place grid penalty.

Brazilian Massa qualified ahead of Fernando Alonso on Saturday, so the deliberate ‘seal’ breaking moved the Spaniard moved one place up the grid, from eighth to seventh. With the US grand prix being the penultimate grand prix of the year, Ferrari’s tactical move – a decision made “for strategy considerations” according to the famous Italian team – may prove crucial.

Alonso needs to finish fourth or higher in order to prevent Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel from winning the drivers’ title on Sunday, if the German wins the race.

The main consideration, however, was about the “dirty side” of the grid; a higher factor in Austin given the newness and low-grip nature of the Circuit of the Americas asphalt.

“Starting from the dirty side of the track would have been penalising,” a statement posted on Ferrari’s official website explained. “There was a significant risk of finding ourselves too far behind the leaders at the end of the first lap. It was a decision agreed by both drivers,” claimed the team.

“We’ve always maintained that the interests of the team come before that of the individual drivers and this has always been our very transparent policy.”

Although completely within the rules, Ferrari’s move is highly controversial. British broadcaster Sky’s pitlane reporter Natalie Pinkham wondered: “It’s legal, but is it fair?”

“Not much to feel about it. It’s their business,” Red Bull’s Vettel said on the grid.

Ferrari’s strategy worked well for Alonso a few minutes later, when the Spaniard moved up from his new seventh on the grid to fourth on the first lap, while the ‘dirty’ side of the grid struggled.

“Engineers were right,” said Sky commentator Martin Brundle, “it was all about one grid slot.”

Soucrce:GMM

Massa reveals he had talks with other teams

Felipe Massa has confirmed he had talks with some other teams before Ferrari re-signed him for 2013.

Earlier this year, as the Brazilian’s form slumped to a low, it was an open secret that the Maranello based team was seeking a new teammate for Fernando Alonso.

“There seemed to be a black cloud above me. Nothing was going right,” Massa was quoted this week by Italy’s Tuttosport.

Ultimately, as the F2012 got better, so too did the 31-year-old’s confidence, form and results. He will spend an eighth consecutive season wearing red overalls in 2013. But during his “black” period, he truly feared for his career.

“I was doing a job that is a dream for millions of people, but I was not happy,” said Massa, “because in many races I knew that the main culprit was me.”

When asked what his plans were had Ferrari decided to pull the plug, Massa admitted there had been some talks, without “naming names”.

“But what I really wanted was to continue with Ferrari,” he insisted.

Meanwhile, while some suggest Massa’s teammate Alonso is the more ‘deserving’ champion of 2012, the Brazilian thinks Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel would also be a worthy winner.

“I think Fernando did an incredible job up to now, Sebastian as well, especially in the second part of the championship,” said Massa. “So I think we are not talking about one guy who has many victories and the other one not. I think we are talking about two drivers, one of which will win and who we will say deserved it.”

Source:GMM

With new form and contract, Massa ‘relieved’

With better form and a new contract in his pocket, Felipe Massa has revealed he is now “relieved” and much happier.

F1’s media has spent much of 2012 speculating about the Brazilian’s likely successor, as the 31-year-old struggled massively with flagging form. Now, his speed back on track and all signed up for another season, Massa admitted to Spain’s AS newspaper: “Yes, I’m relieved.

“Calm, happy, yes. It is clear that the second half of the season has been very different for me from the first, and now I think the continuation (of his Ferrari career) was fair.”

In the same vein, he admitted that – earlier – his was not always the happiest face in F1.

“Yes, sometimes I would be in my room, thinking What’s wrong with me? I have one of the best jobs in the world, a job envied and loved by everyone and yet I didn’t know what wasn’t right. Now I am 100 per cent happy, everything has changed and I cannot explain why,” added Massa.

Source:GMM

Massa ‘understands’ Ferrari’s focus on Alonso

Felipe Massa has revealed he can “understand” why he has not always been driving a car in the same specification as teammate Fernando Alonso at recent races.

It emerged in India last weekend that Brazilian Massa’s Ferrari was a specification behind championship contender Alonso’s, and it is believed the same will be true in Abu Dhabi as well.

“We have more (new parts) for me here and more for Alonso too,” Massa is quoted by Brazil’s Totalrace. “Let’s see if it works, that’s the important thing, but we may not have the same car again,” he admitted.

Massa, however, insisted he is not complaining about Ferrari focusing its development efforts on Alonso’s title push.

“Throughout the year I don’t remember it happening,” he said. “It’s a rush inside the team to try new parts and have at least one (version) ready, which you can understand,” said Massa.

“Looking at how the championship is, it’s understandable. But of course it’s not sensational to know that a piece is working on the other car and you don’t have it,” acknowledged Massa.

Source:GMM