After nearly winning last year’s curtain-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Williams Martini Racing veteran Felipe Massa has been a buoyant mood after a very solid 2015 Formula 1 pre-season.
F1Aldia.com correspondent – and our very good friend – Pablo Grau spoke exclusively with the Brazilian this weekend, and kindly gave us permission to reproduce his interview…
Let’s talk about the pre-season testing. Mercedes was very strong, but also Williams. Do you think this year we will see the same domination of Mercedes as 2014?
Well, for the moment I think Mercedes will remain in front, because they were very strong and showed that are better than anybody else. But we will keep fighting and working; we are where we expected to be, and the signs we have seen in the car are quite positive, so we are in on the fight. I hope we can get closer to Mercedes, it’s something that is not easy, but I hope we can be very strong in comparison with the other teams.
Beyond Mercedes and Williams, do you think this year we will see a tighter grid?
That’s difficult to predict for the moment. We will find the answer in qualifying.
Pirelli made some changes to this year’s tyres. What do you think about the updated tyres? Hamilton said that they are quite hard…
Well, I think they are better than last year, especially the rear ones. In general, they are just a bit more stable. The medium tyre is the most difficult one to work with, but the rest I think that are fine.
And what about the new supersoft tyre?
Yes, we tried it in Barcelona during the pre-season testing, but Barcelona is not the right track to try them.
Let’s talk about the new car. What is the biggest difference between the FW36 and the FW37?
Well, the car of this year is like an evolution of last year’s, but it is better on the rear, it is more stable and has better traction. I think that is the biggest difference in comparison with the FW36, but we did what we wanted to do with it. And I also think that is easy to drive, as there are no major changes in the regulations this year.
Talking about battles, how do you think it will be with your teammate Valtteri Bottas? Last year he was very strong and then you started to join him at the second part of the season…
Well, I do not think he started strong, I was just unlucky, to be honest. I lost too many points at the start of the season, so I am looking forward to not losing too many points this year! But I think we can be there, we can fight.
And is it good for a team to have two very strong drivers that push one to each other?
For sure, absolutely. It is good to push the team and work well for it.
And what about the engine rules in 2015? This year you only have four engines for all the entire season…
For the moment is going well, all the teams have improved… But we face more races and one less engine. It is going to be harder, but we are working to achieve it and Mercedes know how to do it as well.
You spent many years at Ferrari and then changed to Williams. Some people thought that, maybe, it was not the best decision to make. Now, after one year at Williams, do you believe you made the right decision?
For sure I made the right decision, it is clear. I am so happy where I am and I am so happy to work in this team. What we showed last year was amazing, and I think you have more life beyond Ferrari.
And will we have Massa in F1 for more years?
I do not know if I’ll stay here or for how long. But if I have a team that gives me the opportunity, as I have now, I will stay here for a long time. If I do not have the team that gives me what I want, I will do another category.
At the time of leaving Ferrari, you said ‘there is life beyond Ferrari’. Is there life beyond Williams now?
After Williams? I do not know. I am happy where I am and I am not looking for a change. I would always like to be in a competitive team, which I am now.
Talking about Melbourne, what do you think are the highlights of the circuit?
Well, it is a very difficult track, very technical. So many things happen during the race here, so we need to be really ready to make a good start, pass at the first corner and try to finish the race. I hope we have a competitive car to be fighting for the podium or a good result to start with. It is not easy to overtake here, difficult but not impossible.
Regarding Fernando, you were close during Ferrari years and even now. Have you talked to him about the accident he had in testing?
He feels OK. I texted him and I think he is feeling OK, which is good. I hope he is back for Malaysia. I cannot answer anything specifically because I do not know. I did not ask him what happened or anything about the accident, I just asked him if he was OK, which is what I care about most. He is fine and this is the only thing that matters to me.
Well Felipe, let’s finish with a quick quiz. You only have to answer with one word, okay?
Let’s do it!
Toughest team mate?
Maybe Michael Schumacher
Outside the track, your favourite hobby?
In favour or against the new turbo V6 engines?
The 2015 World Champion?
I hope me (he smiles)
If the Championship got decided between the Mercedes drivers, who do you think will win?
I hope me (laughs again)
Images via XPB Images