Massa wary of close competition
Felipe Massa’s day at the wheel of the F138 started the way last Friday had ended, with bad weather again affecting work at the Catalunya Circuit. The track, on the outskirts of Barcelona, is hosting the third and final winter test, which runs from today until Sunday. The testing so far showed him that, despite competitive, other teams are extremely closely matched as well.
All the same, it was a positive day for the Ferrari man, because the weather was definitely a bit better, especially in the afternoon, when a few rays of sunshine appeared as the rain stopped, allowing the driver and team to complete the planned programme of a race simulation.
With only a few days of testing – just twelve in total – the last session is usually given over to going through the procedures the team personnel will carry out at every official track session over a race weekend, from Melbourne right through to Sao Paolo. Even if the weather didn’t help, Felipe Massa reckoned he was pleased with how the day had gone. “In the morning I did some long runs, testing both types of wet weather tyre with different set-ups to find the best balance on the car,” he said. “Then, in the afternoon I managed to complete a race simulation. The car worked well at all times, even in the very different track conditions and I’m happy because, despite the tyre degradation being high, it was interesting to understand their behaviour.
“It’s hard to know what is the real pecking order in the field,” continued the Brazilian. “It’s still too early to say where the others are and where we are, but what is easy to say is that a lot of teams will be competitive. My lap times seemed good and, in the afternoon, when I fitted the dry tyres while the track was still damp, I was one of the quickest. Then, just as the track began to dry in the final half hour of running time, I had done all my planned laps and by then my tyres were well worn, which meant I couldn’t improve. However, this was an important step: we have completed a race distance without any problems or glitches. As for the tyres, it’s true that they degrade quickly, but it’s also normal that this should be the case. We know the tyres have changed since last year and they have been designed specifically with that in mind: it’s an idea introduced this year to increase the number of pit stops, but honestly, apart from a few times when the compounds will be softer than expected, I think there will just be one more pit stop than last year.”
Lastly, Felipe commented on the developments expected here for the weekend. “Today, we had a few small modifications compared to last week, while on Saturday and Sunday we will test the Australian configuration. We know the car is improving: our aim is to arrive in Melbourne with a good base on which to build our season.”