Turkish Grand Prix Preview – Ferrari

Turkish GP – Massa: “important for fans to see a really exciting show”

Istanbul, 5 May – Felipe Massa was called up to today’s FIA press conference in the Istanbul media centre, for the obvious reason that he has won this race three times out of the total of six Turkish Grands Prix held to date. “Of course I’m happy to be at a track where I have won three years in succession from pole,” said the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver. “It’s a great feeling, even if the last two years here have not been so successful, so I hope this weekend we go in the same direction as in the past. Everyone at the track is well wrapped up against the cold and the rain, something never before experienced here, which raises the possibility of a wet race. “It could be a good thing or a bad one, but above all it would be a lottery,” commented the Brazilian. “In winter testing we did very few laps in the rain so it is hard to know what to expect,” he added before moving on to explain what the Scuderia has been up to since China. “Everyone has been working so hard during the break, trying to understand more about the car,” he said. “I hope the new step we have here will be interesting for us, especially for qualifying, given that our race pace is much better than on Saturday afternoon. However, all the teams have been trying to make progress, so until we are actually on track, it is difficult to know what our new parts will deliver and then, the weather could actually make that even harder to assess.”

Asked if he and the team felt under pressure after the results of the first three races, Felipe admitted that now was the time for Ferrari to react. “Clearly, in qualifying Red Bull has had the quickest car and McLaren has also been strong. If you consider that Sebastian’s (Vettel) worst result so far is a second place, it means he already has a big points advantage. So we need to make a significant step here in Barcelona, because even though of course, we never give up, the points gap is quite big now. We must start to get closer to them.”

Whatever the situation regarding Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, Felipe was very positive about the current state of health of Formula 1. “I have heard so many good things since the last race in China, from the press and from other people,” he revealed. “Everyone seems very impressed with the racing and the good fights, the overtaking and the influence of the rear wing, the KERS and the tyres. We drivers have always had fun on the track, but it’s important for the fans to see a really exciting show and it seems we are moving in a good direction on this front compared to last year.”

All the drivers in the conference were asked to say a word about Robert Kubica, the Renault driver recently released from hospital after an horrific rallying accident. “I have known Robert for a very long time,” said Felipe. “Since he was in Formula Renault in fact. He is a great driver and a very nice guy and I miss fighting with him on the track. I hope he can soon return to what he likes doing best, which means racing.”

Finally, Felipe could not help laughing when a journalist mentioned rumours about his being replaced within Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro next year. “What, is it that time already?” joked the Brazilian. “Every year since I have been with Ferrari, there are these rumours and always around this time of year. And like every year, I have nothing to say!”

Turkish GP – Alonso: “only race four, so still plenty of time to recover”

Istanbul, 5 May – Fernando Alonso had his first meeting of the weekend with the press this afternoon and for the first time this season, now that the European leg of the championship is underway, it took place in the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro media hospitality unit in the paddock. However, as the Spaniard explained the pattern of races is similar. “We’ve had three weeks to recover from the first three races and now I am ready for another three races in four weeks, which follows the same pattern as the start of the season, with one race on its own and then two races one week after the other,” explained Fernando. “We will hopefully score more points in these three than in the first three. Last season we lost points at the beginning and then we recovered in the last part and we got close to winning the championship at the final race. This year we are currently losing points and we are aware there is some distance to the leaders. But it is much earlier in the season than last year when we only started to recover at Silverstone around race eleven or so and now this is only race four so there is still plenty of time.”

The Scuderia has revealed it will run new front and rear wings and new brake ducts here in Turkey, but Fernando was keen to explain that the media and the fans should not expect miracles. “We know that the new parts we have here will improve the car compared to China: it should be worth a couple of tenths per lap but it is not a revolutionary change,” he said. “We will not change the car completely in just one race. Step by step we must close the gap and we are very happy with the work we did over these last three weeks, but we need to wait, probably until qualifying to see how much of the gap we have closed, given that we can expect the other teams to have also made progress. It will be a good motivation for everyone in the team if we can do well here. For my part, I did what I could in the break, working in the simulator, which is the most a driver can do really to help the team. I am sure we will recover very soon and hopefully here in Turkey, we can see the first signs of some positive results.”

One journalist keen on analysing every aspect of the races pointed out to Alonso that he had not had good opening laps at the first three races this year. “It’s true,” admitted the Ferrari man. “I had clutch problems in China that caused a very slow start, I had a very slow reaction in Malaysia that cost me some places and in Australia, when I was close to having the best start of the grid, Petrov pushed Jenson to the outside and Jenson had to push me to get away from Petrov, so you could say we need to make sure there are no clutch problems, I must improve my reactions and we need to improve our luck factor at the start!

Finally, Fernando was asked about his friend Robert Kubica. “We all miss Robert,” affirmed the Spaniard. “That is the feeling I first had in Australia and when we did the driver group picture there, as is the tradition at the first race, we all had this feeling that someone was missing. We hope he makes a quick recovery and I spoke to him three days ago: he is doing well, even if it is not an easy recovery, but I am sure he will be with us, maybe this year and no doubt next year.”