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Felipe Massa Q&A - Ferrari will be 'very competitive' 04 Mar 2009

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F60 Formula One Testing, 1-5 March 2009, Jerez, Spain. Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F60.
Formula One Testing, Day Four, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Thursday, 19 February 2009 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F60 Formula One Testing, 1-5 March 2009, Jerez, Spain. Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F60. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Thursday 19 February 2009. Michael Schumacher (GER) watches Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F60 making a pitstop Formula One Testing, 1-5 March 2009, Jerez, Spain.

After coming so close last year, Felipe Massa has returned stronger and more confident that both he and Ferrari have what it takes to challenge for the title this season. Thus far, testing suggests his confidence is well placed. And clearly reenergized, the Brazilian is adopting a simple mantra for 2009 - win races and win the title…

Q: Felipe, this week’s Jerez session is the first test with eight teams running their new cars. Where do you see Ferrari in this context, and which teams are your closest rivals?
Felipe Massa:
We are definitely going in the right direction and we are where we wanted to be at the moment. My guess is that we will see four or five teams that will be very competitive and that will make the championship very interesting. That will be McLaren, of course, then Toyota, Red Bull Racing, maybe Renault and maybe BMW, who could be quick as well. But for sure there is still a lot of work to do - the whole team is extremely focused to improve the car. By now I can say that I am quite convinced that we will be very competitive.

Q: Speaking to the other drivers, they seem unanimous that Ferrari is the strongest team right now. Do you feel like you’re the favourite?
No. You don’t feel you’re the favourite. What you feel is that you are in good shape, that you are in the right condition to fight and the right condition to be competitive. I am not the kind of guy who likes to say that we are the best - we are not the best - we are just working to try to win races and win the championship.

Q: There are six more test days left before Melbourne. In what areas do you feel the car can still be improved?
Well, everywhere. There are always margins where you want to improve. We are working in all areas of the car - on the speed, on the reliability, on the consistency. But also I’m working on myself - on the driving style and on finding the right set-up. There are always margins to improve.

Q: There are barely three weeks to go before the grid forms for the Australian Grand Prix. Are you ready?
For sure I would like to do some more testing, as tests are without doubt the best preparation for a race - especially the first. In terms of feeling comfortable in the car - yes, I am ready.

Q: After that heart-stopping finale in Brazil last year, what’s your philosophy for the season ahead?
That is very simple. My philosophy is to win - races and the championship!

Q: You have reportedly said that you would be in favour of testing during the season. Is that correct?
No, I was probably misinterpreted. I have some ideas that maybe the race can be slightly shorter, because in the last 15 laps nobody really cares about the race any more. And as we have seen that Friday is not so important for the show, we could extend the Saturday morning a bit and take away the Friday altogether. In addition to that, we could do two, three or four (test) sessions during the season - not together but separately - and make a ‘testing championship’ and the winner could take a bonus for the championship. Like that, you could have a lot more sponsors following the testing, and of course more media. Maybe we could have a nice practice in the morning and a big qualifying (type session) in the afternoon. I think if everybody gives his opinion and brings together some good ideas, we could make a good championship all together.

Q: Your former team mate Michael Schumacher visited the test on Tuesday. Did you have a conversation?
Yes, there always is. It is always nice to have Michael here. I tried to explain to him all the things we are doing, about the development of the car, the behaviour of the car and the feelings that I have. And I was telling him not to risk too much with the motorbikes!