Massa: “Mugello is a sensational circuit!”
Scarperia, 2 May – It’s a case of back to the good old days for Felipe Massa and the Scuderia, to a time when, free of regulatory restrictions, they would rack up mile after mile on the Mugello track, as they worked on developing the Formula 1 cars. Unfortunately, this Tuscan interlude is only three days long and yesterday, the first of those was run almost entirely in the rain.
However, today the sun was an almost constant companion and the drivers were able to fully enjoy the delights of this fantastic track, nestling in the hills of the Tuscan Appenines. Of the fourteen drivers on track today, Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher are the two who know it best, especially the German, having spent so many hours here at the wheel of a Formula 1 car. And the very same Michael used almost every minute of the eight hours of green flag time theoretically available, completing 144 laps in his Mercedes. Felipe was not far off his former team-mate, putting together 106 laps.
“I really enjoyed driving here at Mugello again as it is a sensational track,” said Felipe at the end of the day. “It was here that I did my first race in Europe when I was a kid and also my first test in a Formula 1 car, after which came many more with Ferrari. It’s true this track is very different to the ones we usually race on, although there are similarities to some, such as Barcelona, before they had made the modification to the chicane in the third sector, or to the Silverstone track. However, testing is always important for a driver, because you learn a lot of things to do with the handling of the car: it’s not enough to stay in the simulator which, as it’s name implies, only simulates, so for us, driving on the actual tarmac is essential.
And that’s why today is still useful, both for me and for the team, despite the fact the car was in almost identical trim to the one I drove in Bahrain. We worked mainly on the tyres, on studying their behaviour over short and long distances and also looked at a handful of aerodynamic components, as well as various different set-ups on the car. We got through almost the entire programme and tomorrow it will be down to Fernando to experiment with some of the new parts we have prepared for the start of the European season.
“It’s obvious we need to make a good step forward as soon as possible if we want to be competitive,” continued Felipe. “I am confident about the work we have done in these past few weeks, but we won’t really know if we have reached our targets until we get to Barcelona. We can be sure the other teams have also worked a lot, so if we want to make progress, we will have had to make a significant leap forward in performance terms. It is a very long championship, but we need to make up ground in the next three to five races if want to achieve our goals and this is a key moment to improve our situation.”
Today, Fernando was in meetings with Luca di Montezemolo and Stefano Domenicali in Maranello and tomorrow, it will be down to him to finish the work on track, while back at the factory, everyone is pushing right to the very last moment on the design and production of new parts. Every extra available work day is an asset not to be wasted.