Q: Felipe, it’s been a bit of a rough ride of a season so far. Can you sum up your five races with the Williams team?
Felipe Massa: I would say I am happy with my performance - definitely - but not happy with my results. Every race different things were happening that stripped me off the possibility to finish where I was supposed to finish. Starting with Australia, in the first corner another car pushed me out of the race. In Bahrain I was third for the whole race and then the safety car pushed me back to eighth position and I finally finished seventh. In China I was sixth when I had a one-minute pit stop that put me last. And Barcelona was a bit jinxed as our strategy didn’t really work. So every race has cost me points. But I am sure - as I am happy with the performance - that the results will come.
Q: Is it a bit of a relief that your replacement at Ferrari is not doing significantly better?
FM: No, I don’t have that negative thinking for the others. Sure I want the best for Ferrari, but I also want the best for myself as well.
Q: Having started the year as the perceived number one at Williams, does it hurt a bit seeing the youngster take the lead in the team mate battle?
FM: For sure I have a very quick team mate - a talented young driver - and he needs to push. I’ve always had strong team mates - now it’s just another one - and it gives me motivation and the wanting to do my best. Otherwise I will end up behind my team mate. I am convinced that my pace is going well to fight with him - and with all the others as well.
Q: Why wasn’t it possible to carry the team’s good winter test form into the season? People would have bet on Williams as one of the front-runners…
FM: Then maybe some have lost some money. Testing is testing. We are a competitive team - probably not in a position to win races now, but a team able to do a good job.
Q: Where do you see the biggest issues with the car? It can hardly be the power unit…
FM: Clearly in the downforce of the car. But we are moving forward since the first race. We are on a good line. We’ve made a good step forward in Barcelona - maybe a good step compared to the teams we are fighting. Maybe Lotus made the biggest step, but they’ve really been in trouble. Compared to our immediate competitors, I believe we made a significant leap forward.
Q: At Ferrari you probably experienced a higher development speed due to their resources. How is that at Williams? Would you like more development speed?
FM: Not last year, no. Last year we had new parts at every race and they were never working. Regarding the development speed of the two teams, there is no difference compared to Ferrari. Sure, they are bigger than Williams, but there is no difference. The way Williams is working impresses me. Right now I would say that we are behind Red Bull, but we are in a position to fight with Ferrari, Force India and McLaren. I think we are in good company.
Q: You’ve only missed out on qualifying inside the top ten at one race so far - Malaysia - but you have finished in the points just twice. Can you explain that?
FM: Much had to do with the glitches I was just telling you about - never a dull race in regards to issues! In reality I think we have all the ingredients to finish better than only top ten - if we have an issue-free race.
Q: So from your five Williams races, which has pleased you most?
FM: To be honest, none. The good races are now to come.
Q: What can you say about the Monaco track? Do you have a favourite spot, or one that you fear?
FM: I would favour the idea that everything for us starts here in Monaco. I have never won Monaco, but started once from pole position - in 2008 - and finished twice on the podium.
Q: What does it take to win Monaco - from both the car’s and the driver’s perspective?
FM: You need to be strong as a driver and have a good car - and have some luck! In 2008 I had all the opportunities to win - then it started to rain, Hamilton crashed and was last - but the safety car put him first - so it was anything but a lucky afternoon for me. This one is not an easy race to win. If you think you’ve tamed the beast, it may well slip out of your hands again.
Q: Have you fully arrived at Williams?
FM: One hundred percent yes. I am really happy.
Q: Frank Williams is an icon of F1 racing - and a very unusual character when it comes to drivers. Is he taking you to one side and sharing his experiences with you - and what he expects from you?
FM: Well, we do speak, and I think he believes in me, in the way I drive. He doesn’t tell me, boy, you have to drive in this style or in that. He understands that I know how to drive. But it is always great to listen to him.
Q: Right now you are the only Brazilian on the grid. Where is all the Brazilian talent?
FM: Funny isn’t it. But we are not only losing talent in F1, but in all other categories. When I got to Europe there were Brazilians in each and every category - and at least one Brazilian fighting for the championship in every category. Now you don’t see that any more. It is sad for my country and I hope it is getting better - not for me, as I am getting old, but for the future.
Q: Coming back to the Monaco race, who do you think will make the podium?
FM: I am sure the Mercedes will be strong, but I also think it could be the best shot for Red Bull. But in reality I would think Lewis (Hamilton), Nico (Rosberg) and Sebastian (Vettel). And me? In the top five.