Felipe Massa Q&A: qualifying was a wake-up call 04 Apr 2009
It was a black afternoon for Ferraris Felipe Massa in Malaysia on Saturday. Sitting in the pits and seeing his Q1 lap time drop out of contention, with no time left to do another lap, must have been one of the most frustrating moments of his racing career. Certainly his - and the teams - apparent belief that a Ferrari will make it into the pole shootout, come rain or shine, has been seriously rocked. The Brazilian reflects on his crushing qualifying session
Q: Felipe, what happened in qualifying?
Felipe Massa: Well, actually I went straight on a new set of soft tyres. I didn't do a perfect lap, I did a reasonable lap, but it was not a perfect lap. I went wide on the first lap in Turn 14 and then I improved on the second-timed lap by two-tenths. The team thought it was enough to be inside the top 15, and maybe I thought this as well myself to be honest, because when I got back to the pits I was fourth. I stayed in the top seven for a while but then when I started to drop it was impossible to go out again because there was no time to do another lap. Maybe the track improved a lot as well. With the temperature going down many people improved. We just thought it was enough to get in the top 15 and it wasn't - so we dropped completely. Maybe the past is still too fresh in our minds, where we had a very competitive car and it was always easy to go out in Q1 on the hard tyres - or whatever - and be in the top 10. Now it's not that easy anymore. Now we need to be able to use our tyres in qualifying because that's the only way to pass through every session.
Q: Was it a wake-up call?
FM: Definitely. We already had a wake-up call in the first race and after this qualifying we learned just a little bit more that we are not as competitive as we thought we would be. We have other teams that are a little bit in front. We couldn't use the hard tyres, that's why we chose the soft straight away, because the hard tyres would not work for us. They need two or three laps to warm. Some teams, especially three teams, can warm up the tyres very quickly, because they have the downforce that we don't have. That's the reason for us take this strategy - and it was not very nice!
Q: Where did you expect to be?
FM: Well, this morning I thought maybe it would have been possible to fight for the top five, but looking at the qualifying I think that it was possible to be in the top seven. Clearly it was worse than what we expected. If you look at the end of the qualifying Kimi (Raikkonen) was maybe nine-tenths behind Jenson (Button), so it was quite a big gap.
Q: Have you got any experience of driving with KERS in the wet?
FM: Yes. It's normal. The only thing is that you don't use the KERS coming out of the slow corners like you do in the dry - you use it when you have the traction.
Q: Looking at your qualifying result, is there somebody to blame?
FM: As I said, maybe the past is still too fresh in our minds for everybody - including myself - because I didn't believe that I was going to drop out of the top 15. After the qualifying, I thought maybe I could go 11th or 12th, but not 16th! I blame everybody. I blame me, I blame the engineers, I blame everybody that was working in the pit looking at the lap times. It was a team mistake, including myself. But it was a huge wake-up call that we need to use everything we have because every session is difficult.
Q: Are you praying for rain? Could that help you?
FM: The rain can be a lottery so it can be good. If it's raining maybe we have an extra possibility to have a great race. We'll see. I hope we can have good pace in the race and can gain many positions.