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Exclusive Felipe Massa Q&A: Canada podium not unrealistic for Williams

05 Jun 2015

Last season Williams were regularly Mercedes’ biggest threat for race wins. This year that role has passed to Ferrari, with Williams playing a lonely bit part as ‘best of the rest’ behind the top two teams. But though his former squad have overtaken them (for now at least), Felipe Massa remains confident he is in the right place - and even believes they could bounce back from a disappointing Monaco with some serious points in Montreal this weekend…

Q: Felipe, Williams’ technical chief Pat Symonds said over the winter that he believes there is still a title win within you. Do you feel the same?

Felipe Massa: Sure. If you do not believe that you’re still able to do it then you’d better change sport. (laughs) I do believe that I can do it. We are working to be able to have every possibility. Right now we know that we don’t have the quickest car on the track, and you cannot do it alone - you have to do the best job you can, but also the team has to work together. Yes, I believe I still have unfinished business in terms of a title win, that is for sure.

Q: There might be a champion within you, but what about the car? Right now it doesn’t seem that there is a champion in the car…

FM: Ha, for the moment the championship is only about two teams - and in reality I believe it is only Mercedes.

Q: Can you explain the dramatic loss of performance this season? At the end of 2014 Williams were a force to be reckoned with…

FM: I don’t think the term ‘dramatic loss of performance’ is justified. If you look at how we are and how we were compared to Mercedes, we are not massively behind. The only team that has really made a big step forward is Ferrari. They have made a huge step forward and overtaken us in the standings. We were the second team in the second part of 2014 - and now we are the third team because Ferrari has made a bigger step forward compared to everyone else.

Q: Nevertheless it must be disappointing going into a season believing that this could be it only to realize that this year is again a detour on the road to the title…

FM: A driver has a different perception. We know that every season starts at zero, is a different picture. When drivers are still fighting for points on the track the teams are already focusing on next year’ s car and I know that Ferrari stopped working on their 2014 car a lot earlier than us and prepared for 2015 a lot better. They worked especially on the engine where they had been struggling massively.

Q: Monaco must have been a bitter pill to swallow: both cars outside the points…

FM: I see it a bit differently: we were very lucky there last year. And in fact our worst race last year was Monaco. I was only in the points because of pure luck. This time luck was not on my side. Another car hit me after the first corner. That was the end for any hope of points. Maybe here it will be a happier story.

Q: So Monaco and zero points was a one-off?

FM: Monaco is a tough one for us. It is not the right track for our car. The straights are very short - and usually we are the quickest car [on the straights], so we struggle a bit more there compared to the other teams. It was the second year in a row now. But I am not worried - the next Monaco race is 11 and a half months away! (laughs)

Q: Montreal is also a very peculiar track where anything can happen…

FM: …it is a very difficult track! And yes, anything can happen - from crazy weather to walls approaching at an incredible pace, a crash is always within a blink of an eye. The brakes have to work extra shifts. No, it definitely is not an easy track, but I believe we will do well.

Q: Your best result here was fourth ten years ago. Do you like this track?

FM: Yes, I do like the track. I was always competitive here. If we have a clean weekend we should harvest points with both cars.

Q: It is your 14th season now, so you have seen it all. If you could start all over again, what would you change?

FM: Not much really. And from everything that didn’t work, I’ve learned something. Maybe I stayed too long in a difficult moment with Ferrari. But back then I didn’t have any other opportunity. When the opportunity did open up I made the change - and finally got happy again. When looking at my F1 career, I definitely have more to celebrate than to complain about!

Q: With hindsight, would you have been more assertive towards your team mates?

FM: Maybe, yes. But you also need to understand that sometimes you don’t say things because the situation doesn’t allow it because of politics. Now there is no politics any more. I can say what I want. But I always follow the rules. I am happy here. You need the feeling that the team is working for you - and I have all that here.

Q: Will Williams bounce back this weekend? Dream up a ‘comeback’ result…

FM: A great podium on Sunday! That’s what I dream - but it’s a dream with strong roots in reality.