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Massa: Brawn GP Ferrari's 'main opponent' in 2009

Felipe Massa has gone on record as saying that Brawn GP will be Ferrari's 'main opponent' in Formula 1 in 2009 – as Fernando Alonso predicted that it will be too close to call between all the teams in the curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne this coming weekend.

Whilst Ferrari's traditional rivals McLaren-Mercedes have struggled throughout pre-season testing with the aerodynamic package on their MP4-24 – and are expected to languish some way off the pace Down Under – Brackley-based Brawn GP has stunned paddock observers by regularly lapping up to a second quicker than any of the opposition.

That performance has been attributed to the former Honda F1 outfit having begun development of its 2009 machine earlier than any other team – and, by dint of the BGP 001's late launch last month, having been able to spend more time in the factory and wind tunnel honing the car to the sport's new regulations than anyone else to boot.

Massa is sure that the speed the Brawn has shown in the hands of both Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello in recent weeks is absolutely real, and he admitted that he was perplexed by McLaren's apparent inability to adapt sufficiently well to the new rules.

“Looking at the latest test sessions, for sure Brawn GP is the main opponent,” the Brazilian is quoted as having said by the Associated Press. “We saw Brawn GP rising from the ashes, running a second faster than everyone else.

“A lot of people say that the tests are not as important as a race weekend, which is true, but when you are always running behind (like McLaren are), it shows that you are not doing well.”

Having agonisingly missed out on the 2008 drivers' world championship crown to McLaren rival Lewis Hamilton in the very final race of the campaign in front of his adoring home fans at Interlagos last year, Massa argued that he is now 'stronger' for the experience – and confident that in the Scuderia's new F2009, he has the tools to finish the job off twelve months on.

“Mentally, that was a great lesson for me,” the 27-year-old underlined. “It certainly made me stronger.

“The car is competitive, it's quick and it's consistent. We have been able to do a few race simulations and there were no problems with the car. We are ready to start the championship, and I hope we will be as competitive as in the previous years.”

Alonso, meanwhile, has revealed that he expects a particularly close-fought battle in Australia following the raft of regulation changes brought into force in the top flight this year – and the former double F1 World Champion is optimistic that Renault will be right up there amongst the front-runners.

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Hannah - Unregistered

March 24, 2009 6:14 PM

Like most posters, I also like Massa a lot he is obviously a VERY good driver and I think the way he acted after just loosing the championship was very dignified and I respect him a great deal for that. :) :D However I think saying Brawn GP is Ferrari's 'main opponent' isn't, in my opinion, very likely. :blush: I mean sure they have had tremendous speed in testing but that is testing. :-o I mean I do believe that they will get points in their very first race but I doubt they will be challenging for a win for quite a few races, if I'm wrong fine! :) I'd say BMW is a serious contender and I definatly would'nt write McLaren off yet either, Renault too! :)

Rudy - Unregistered

March 24, 2009 3:06 PM

Massa has been treated bloody well by Ferrari, he was extremely fortunate to get the job in the first place, no doubt helped by his manager being Todt's son. A driver as bad as him in the wet should never be champ. Heres hoping he sees plenty of the rear of the Williams this year

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