Ferrari have looked quick and consistent throughout winter testing and Felipe Massa is going into the new season with high hopes that 2009 could be his year. According to the Brazilian, the F60’s KERS system is working well and the car should be competitive. His only fear is that a new team led by a certain former Ferrari technical director could be quicker still…
Q: Felipe, it’s two weeks to the first race, are you ready reliability and performance wise?
Felipe Massa: Well, I am ready, we are ready with our preparations. I think we did everything we wanted to do and brought everything that we wanted to bring in terms of development of the car, so I would say that we are pretty prepared for the start of the season. Before this test in Barcelona it was looking a little bit better than after Barcelona - that new Brawn has surprised everybody! Before Barcelona we were maybe one of the quickest cars on the track, or maybe very competitive in the front, and now we are still competitive, behind the Brawn.
Q: The Brawn clocked a fantastic time. Would you be able to do something similar when going for a qualifying lap?
FM: No. And I think nobody can do.
Q: Do you think this time was genuine, or were they running on low fuel?
FM: Many people were running on a low fuel load, not just them. I think their lap time is just much quicker than everybody else can do.
Q: Do you think they did it with or without ballast?
FM: First of all I am not an engineer, secondly I never saw the Brawn car, so I cannot say if they have ballast or not. I believe they have because there’s no point coming here and being quick and then going to the first race and being slow. But I would say that even if they have no ballast on board and they put ballast on in Melbourne they will be quick anyway. They are really surprising - and I can say for us, that if you take away the Brawn, we are very competitive.
Q: Toyota are also competitive. Like the Brawn car, they are running without KERS, while those who are running with KERS seem to have problems. Are you worried about that?
FM: Well, KERS can give you a better lap time, depending on the track maybe two-tenths to half a second. So can you imagine if the Brawn is running with KERS how quick they’re going to be. At least with KERS on board we can have a good start, fight with them at the start and fight lap by lap to be in front. KERS is definitely an improvement in our car. It’s true it is quite heavy, but I am completely on the normal weight with it. The KERS is at the bottom of the car so it’s just like if you put ballast there, as it is in the same position. So KERS is not changing the balance of the car but it gives you an extra boost. Imagine then that if a team is quick without KERS, they will even be quicker with KERS.
Q: What do you make of the McLaren’s performance?
FM: To be honest, we have never seen McLaren so far back. In many years I have never seen that. But it is a team we need to respect. They have another test session that we don’t have, so they still have the chance to improve and find what is wrong with the car and what is not working. For sure it is surprising to see McLaren so far behind but we have to wait for a verdict at the first race.
Q: Coming back to you. Will this be your year?
FM: I don’t know. It is difficult to answer that question, but what I can say is that I feel ready, I feel strong, I feel ready to fight. But for sure we need to see the others and how our performance is compared to them under race conditions. But I am for ready to go for it.