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Interview: Sauber's Felipe Massa 06 Apr 2005

Felipe Massa (BRA) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 6 March 2005 Felipe Massa (BRA) Sauber Petronas C24.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, First Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 2 April 2005 Felipe Massa (BRA) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 1 April 2005 Felipe Massa (BRA) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang, Malaysia, 18 March 2005 Felipe Massa (BRA) Sauber Petronas C24.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, First Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 2 April 2005

Sauber reached a double century in Bahrain with their 200th Formula One race. It was also their best outing of the 2005 season to date, with Felipe Massa finishing seventh. Afterwards, the Brazilian spoke to the team about the weekend.

Q: Two World Championship points in Sauber's 200th Grand Prix - this must have been a special feeling?
Felipe Massa:
For sure, it was a fantastic feeling to dedicate these points to the team at a very special moment, and I am proud of this. And also because these two points came at a good moment for the team, after our difficult start to the season. We have to take this momentum now to the next races.

Q: You opted for the harder Michelin tyre compound. Looking back, do you think it was the right decision?
FM:
I think it was. When I made the choice on Friday, the harder compound showed excellent consistency, and with the weather forecast predicting temperatures of more than 40 degrees C for the weekend it made sense. I knew that this choice would cost me three to five tenths in qualifying, but I really concentrated on the race performance.

Q: How did the race go for you?
FM:
My whole race went well from the beginning to the end. In the opening laps I was considerably slower than the drivers on soft tyres, but after 10, 12 laps my performance started to improve consistently. My quickest lap time in the race does not really reflect the performance since I always got stuck behind other drivers towards the end of my stints when you would normally set your best lap times as the fuel load has gone down. In addition, I didn't make the smallest mistake during the whole race, which is not easy here because the track is really slippery off the racing line and quite a few drivers had some hairy moments.

Q: In Bahrain it was even hotter than in Sepang - how difficult is it for the driver over the whole duration of such a gruelling race?
FM:
It might surprise you, but the race in Bahrain was physically easy. I was not exhausted at all when I took the chequered flag and I didn't sweat too much. Although the temperature was higher than in Sepang, the race in Malaysia was much harder because of the high humidity in combination with a track layout which is physically more demanding. Bahrain was really an easy race from this point of view!

Q: You are not allowed to change tyres from Saturday afternoon onwards under the regulations. How does this affect your job?
FM:
It's a demanding challenge, but I like it. First of all it's even more important to make the right choice on Friday, and then, secondly, you really have to find the right balance between driving aggressively to be quick, and yet smooth to conserve the tyres. It's really important not to exaggerate and not to push too hard. It's an interesting task, and I like it.

Q: Where do you see the most potential for improvement for the Sauber Petronas C24?
FM:
It's definitely in aerodynamics where we need to make more improvements. We made a step forward in Bahrain, and we will have more new parts for Imola. This is really the area where we need to push hard in order to make progress. On the positive side, the reliability of the Sauber Petronas C24 has been fantastic since the beginning of the season.

Q: You have been in Formula One since 2002; how have you changed as a driver?
FM:
Experience is so important in Formula One! Today I have a much better understanding of the car, all its technical aspects and how to find the best set-up. I can give more detailed input to the engineers and I have now the self-confidence to push the team in a positive way. But the experience also helps further to improve your driving, to know exactly when to drive more aggressively and when to hold back. And obviously, I have also improved in terms of consistency during the race.

Q: What do you expect for the next races?
FM:
My goal is to fight for points on a regular basis. We are testing some new parts in Barcelona this week and I expect that we will be able to further improve the performance of the Sauber Petronas C24.