If Felipe Massa
is to turn around his disappointing start to the 2010 Formula One campaign, there will be no better place to do so than Istanbul Park this weekend, and the Brazilian is eager to get back into action.
The Turkish Grand Prix has served Massa well since its addition to the calendar in 2005, with the Ferrari
driver winning three of the five races held there to date, and, despite the current dominance of Red Bull
Racing, the diminutive driver is confident of returning to form on the Bosporus.
"Istanbul is a special track for me, as I won three times in a row there," Massa confirms, "I enjoy it a lot and I am looking forward to this weekend to try and do it again.
"Last year, when our car was not so competitive, I still managed to finish sixth, so I am hoping for something better this time, even if we have seen that the opposition is very strong at the moment. I can't really explain why I have always been strong at Istanbul Park, but there is something about the track characteristics that seems to suit me in a similar way to Bahrain or Sao Paolo - I just click with these places and I feel very comfortable driving there."
The 2008 world championship runner-up began the season well, with podium finishes in both Bahrain and Australia but, having led the championship at that stage, has fallen away since and currently lies fifth overall, 17 points off joint leaders Mark Webber
and Sebastian Vettel. Admitting that there were problems that he and the team were working hard to overcome, Massa is hoping that he can make better use of the harder Bridgestone tyres than he did in Malaysia, China and Spain.
"After running very competitively in Monaco on Bridgestone's softer tyres, in Istanbul we will be back to their medium and hard compounds," he reflected, "The engineers have been pushing very hard to get the F10 make these tyres work better for us than they did in Barcelona, for example, so I expect we will have made some progress.
"The asphalt in Istanbul is the most abrasive we will have encountered so far this season, resulting in higher tyre degradation, and that fact, combined with the higher temperatures we can expect this weekend, should see us work the tyres better."
Perhaps more important than the gap to the Red Bull
duo at the head of the standings, however, is the similar gap to new Ferrari
team-mate Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard has a 15-point advantage on Massa after six races, leading to speculation that the Scuderia will not look to retain the Brazilian when his contract expires at the end of the season. Having spent the majority of his F1 career at Maranello, however, Massa is naturally keen to do what he can to remain on board.
"This is my job, but I never forget how special it is to drive for Ferrari," the Brazilian, who's manager has apparently opened talks with Renault
for 2011, admitted, "This weekend's race has a special significance for everyone in the team and back at the factory, as it will be the 800th F1 world championship event in which the Scuderia has taken part, dating back to [its] first race of 1950 in Monaco. For me, it will be the 69th time I put on the red firesuit and step into the cockpit of a Prancing Horse car and it is fantastic to be part of that history, part of the most famous racing team in the world.
"Although it will be nice to celebrate this milestone with the team this weekend, in F1 it is the present and the future that matter, so the best way to celebrate the 800 would be to have a perfect weekend, ending with a great result on Sunday afternoon."