It’s been a tradition of the Australian Grand Prix, even back in the days when the race was held in Adelaide – drivers sitting in the shade on a well-manicured lawn, talking to journalists.
And that’s how Felipe Massa’s track activity began here today, as he tackled the usual media session. “It’s the here and now that counts,” claimed the Ferrari man, when asked if winter testing made him confident for the year.
“Testing is testing, but it is only now that we will see all the teams running with the same fuel load and the same tyres. In a new championship, everyone starts with zero points. We understood a lot from last year, in terms of which direction we should go in, when building the new car and this one is definitely better than the one with which we started last year.”
“We have had far fewer problems with the F138 and less surprises with the numbers we have seen from it and it was working the way we had expected at the tests. The feeling I get when driving it is much nicer, so it is a much better way to start the season.”
“I don’t think we will get all the answers about the hierarchy of the teams from this weekend, but I am sure we have what we need to start off in the right direction. Saturday and Sunday will produce some answers.”
Pirelli’s new tyres were the hot topic after a very cold few weeks of testing, particularly the tendency to degrade quicker than last year. However, the Brazilian seemed relaxed about this part of the package.
“The tyres are a bit softer than last year and, on top of that, here in Albert Park we will be using the Supersoft, while last year the softest compound we used was the Soft, so it will be interesting to see how that works,” he said.
“We must simply work on understanding as much as possible about all the different types of tyre. But it is nothing different to what we have had to do in the past, because you always have to start by learning about the tyres and how to set up your car to suit them.”
“There are things you can do to look after your tyres – if you look at Singapore last year, I did many more laps than the tyres were expected to last on my final stint. I was being careful, changing my driving style on the Supersoft, which meant that I was able to keep going when the Safety Car came out, thus gaining many positions. So yes, it is always possible that you can adapt your driving to help with tyre degradation. In addition, the way you evolve the car over the season can assist with tyre management.”
It was one of the top stories of the latter part of 2012 that Felipe had returned to the form everyone at the Scuderia knew he could deliver and so, hopes have now been raised for the coming nineteen races.
“I think my personal expectations have increased after a very good second half of 2012,” admitted the Paulista. “Even if I didn’t win any races, given the limitations of the car, I think I did a very good job and that was good preparation for this year. The car, the tyres are all different, but the rules are more or less the same and I feel this will help me have a better season, a more consistent one from the beginning to the end. I am really confident on that.”