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Felipe Massa Q&A: diffuser will keep Brawn ahead for now 02 Apr 2009

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Preparations, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday, 2 April 2009 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2009 leads Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.09.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 29 March 2009 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2009.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 29 March 2009 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2009.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 29 March 2009 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 29 March 2009

The Melbourne race was a real wake-up call for the usual suspects at the front of the grid. While McLaren saw one driver retire and the other get disqualified, Ferrari endured a double DNF. In Sepang, however, Felipe Massa is certain that now the paddock has arrived at a track more similar to the Italian team’s testing haunts, the F60 may regain some of its promising winter form…

Q: Felipe, were the team’s troubles in Melbourne caused by a lack of speed or reliability?
Felipe Massa:
A bit of both. There has always been the concern that we haven’t been the quickest car on the track. That is an important concern as is the fact that we didn’t finish the race, which adds to our concerns.

Q: When will you be able to catch up to the Brawns, given the resources that Ferrari have at their disposal?
FM:
It won’t be that easy but I hope we can improve the car to make more of a competition between the Brawns and the others.

Q: We have seen very heavy rain this afternoon. Could rain in the race benefit you?
FM:
I have no idea. It can be very good - and it can be very bad. It can be a lottery, can completely change the result of the race, so we have to wait and see. Rain is always a lottery, so we don’t know until that very minute.

Q: So far you haven’t had too great a start to the season. What conclusions did you draw from Melbourne? What happened?
FM:
First of all we didn’t finish the race - that was the biggest problem in the end. For most of the race I was third and then we made a mistake in terms of the strategy, because the safety car phase put me behind. But even with that mistake I would have been able to finish the race reasonably and I was in a position to score good points. Even when you don’t have the quickest car on the track, and you are still able to score points, it can already be considered as something of a good result. We couldn’t have achieved better.

Q: Getting the soft tyres out of the way early on would have worked in your favour towards the end of the race…
FM:
That’s what I mean. I was in front of Kubica - he obviously had the same strategy. But then I went for three stops and they went for two, and that meant I was the unlucky guy. Kubica was able to fight at the end with Vettel - even maybe with Button - and maybe I could have been in the same position. Anyway, it did not happen.

Q: What do you think in terms of the championship now?
FM:
I think we need to recover and start scoring points - and start the championship in a good way from here with a further development of the car. It is not such a different start to what I had last year so this might trigger a similar kind of mentality.

Q: Do you have any concern about the weather and the fading light that you could face at the start of Sunday’s race?
FM:
Well, that is always a concern. It means that we have to be clever on that!

Q: Will KERS help this weekend?
FM:
Yes! We are not the quickest car on the track so if we lose our KERS we lose a lot more performance. KERS is an important thing for us.

Q: At the winter tests Ferrari had, aside from Brawn, one of the best cars. It was not like that in Melbourne. Are you worried about that?
FM:
What I’ve tried to say before is that Melbourne was not the right track to figure that out. The tracks we were at over the winter - Barcelona, Jerez or Bahrain - are tracks more similar to Sepang. So I hope that here our car will behave in a similar way to on those tracks. My hope is that we will regain our performance to the level that we had at those tracks.

Q: After the first lap in Australia, Button had an almost four-second lead on the next car. Do you think he was showing all the team’s performance there?
FM:
Yes, I think he did. He was eight-tenths or so in front in qualifying with more fuel. If he wasn’t showing everything I would be very scared! People seem to forget that in the race we had two safety cars. And after the last safety car, he was on the soft tyres and the other cars were on the hard tyres. Everybody thinks of the end of the race, and how much he was in front. But let’s not forget the qualifying and the beginning of the race where he was so much quicker than everybody. For sure they are on another planet.

Q: In terms of the development of your car do you think you can close the gap significantly on the Brawns over the first half of the season?
FM:
If they don’t change the rules for the floor - if you need to bring a similar kind of floor , and as long as we don’t have that kind of floor - no. They will be in front.

Q: Will it dent your motivation, knowing you have the second fastest car on the grid?
FM:
The motivation is always there. I had a huge motivation when I was at Sauber starting from 11th or 12th place on the grid. The driver always thinks about victory, trying to do the best he can. Winning the race, and if that’s not possible, finishing in the best position I am able to. The motivation is always high!