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Pre-Brazil analysis - determined Massa eyes home triumph 05 Nov 2010

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Preparations, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, 4 November 2010 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Saturday, 23 October 2010 Brazilian drivers in the FIA Press Conference (L to R): Lucas di Grassi (BRA) Virgin Racing; Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Williams; Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari; Bruno Senna (BRA) Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT).
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Preparations, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, 4 November 2010 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari make hand prints for the wall of fame. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Saturday, 23 October 2010 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Preparations, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, 4 November 2010

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa has a point to prove to his fellow countryman this weekend, having locked out pole positions here with Rubens Barrichello since 2003 with the exception of one occasion on which Fernando Alonso interceded for Renault. The Brazilian is well aware that he can crucially influence the world championship fight if he can take a healthy helping of points away from Alonso’s rivals, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull and Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button at McLaren.

“They were great races: 2006, 2007, 2008,” he says. “It’s also true that it’s a circuit where I love to race. Even before Formula One I won two races here in Formula Chevrolet, the category in which I started. Then I came back when I was in Formula One. It’s a track where you have some directions in terms of set-up, in terms of how to do a great lap. There are also some corners which are not easy to do, especially talking about lap times, which is after Turn Six, which is very technical as well. And also, you see overtaking at every race here. It’s a track which is small, it’s not so big, not so long like many of the new tracks, but I think it’s very well done.

“You can see many nice battles on this race track, especially when you have a nice time, even before Formula One, in the two victories that I had, and in Formula One with another two victories with three pole positions, it makes the track even more special. But when you see the people in the grandstands, it’s just amazing, to see the Brazilian people very ‘hot’, singing all day long. For us it is something that is very, very special and gives you extra power as well.”

“For sure I think he can do it,” he says of Alonso’s prospects as current points leader. “The focus is to win the championship. If he wins here, for sure it’s good for the team, but the focus is that he can win the championship. Some races ago everybody was sure that Red Bull were going to win easily and then something happened in the race, so they lost many points which is exactly what happened in the last race. So Sebastian had 10 pole positions, he won three races, so you can see that everything can be possible in the championship, especially now that Fernando is in front, so the chances of winning are quite big.

“For sure, when you have a driver there taking points away from other drivers who are fighting for the championship, it’s always important. I see myself there and for sure thinking about starting in the best position and finishing in the best position as well.”

The 64 million dollar question, of course, is whether he would hand the lead over to Alonso if the situation arose. “Well, I already did that, you know?” he replies immediately, but he was referring not to Hockenheim and the team orders controversy that engulfed Ferrari there, but 2007, when he let team mate Kimi Raikkonen go on to a crucial victory that cemented his title. “So it depends on me,” he continues. “I’m a professional driver.”

He is also adamant that giving Alonso the win in Hockenheim had less effect on his popularity that the media believed.

“I expect me to win the race as well and I will do the best I can to win the race for them, for the people. It’s also true that even after the race in Germany, when I arrived in Brazil, the people were very nice with me, very fantastic, pushing me forward. The real people are great. Journalists are much more difficult!”

He also says that 2009 was a far worse year for him than 2010, because of the accident he suffered in qualifying in Hungary.

“The result this year is not 100 percent as I expected, especially in qualifying, to put a lap together and to make the car 100 percent ready for the first lap on the tyres. That was the most difficult thing for me during the championship. I really hope to finish well as the championship is not finished yet, so I hope we can do a good job in the last two races and also prepare for much better qualifying laps next year as we know how important qualifying is and starting on the front. The chance you have to win the race is there, so that’s why this year was not great because of the qualifying and the position on the grid. It is true that I also had some races where I didn’t finish in the points, some crashes, in the first corner, also in Singapore where I had a problem in qualifying and started last. I had some races which were not great.”

David Tremayne

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