After complaining of a 'lack of grip' and difficulty in warming his tyres up to temperature – a hallmark bugbear of his F1 2010 campaign – during qualifying for this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix on home turf at Interlagos, Ferrari star Felipe Massa has revealed his confidence that he will be able to move up the order on race day in São Paulo.
Having been hotly-tipped to shine in front of a partisan crowd – with nobody else having seized pole position in Brazil in the previous three races that Massa had contested – the Paulista was something of a disappointment right from the start of the hour-long session, never displaying the kind of form that was expected of him and ultimately only making it into the top ten shoot-out by the very skin of his teeth.
From there, the 29-year-old – who so famously won and then just seconds later lost the 2008 F1 World Championship at Interlagos – failed to make any kind of impact at all in Q3, ultimately winding up a lowly ninth, his worst starting spot there since 2005. Nobody, he reflected, was more frustrated than him – but he assures that the last thing he will be doing is giving up.
“Conditions today were certainly not easy, and the track was changing all the time” the eleven-time grand prix-winner reported. “In the wet, with intermediates, I was able to do reasonably good times, but when we fitted the soft slicks and the track was still damp, I immediately felt a lack of grip which in the end affected my performance. In fact, all season I have struggled to get my tyres up to temperature, and the damp track definitely did not help.
“[It was] a shame, as I was unable to fight for the top places as I had hoped in order to give the Brazilian fans a good result – but it is always exciting racing here in front of this fantastic crowd. The race should be run in the dry, which means with very different track conditions to this afternoon. Yesterday, Fernando [Alonso – team-mate] was very quick over a long run, and I think we will be able to make up some places. Congratulations to Nico [Hülkenberg] on his first pole – I can well believe he is in seventh heaven.”
“This result leaves a slightly bitter taste in the mouth, because we had the potential to do better,” agreed Ferrari chief track engineer Chris Dyer, “but we knew that in these conditions anything could happen. We had been expecting it since yesterday – the wet track should have been an opportunity to close the gap to the Red Bulls, who on a first flying lap in the dry seemed quicker – but it could also have been a risk, because there was always the chance of finishing much further back on the grid.
“At the end, everyone fitted slicks and it was very difficult to put together the perfect lap – only Hülkenberg managed it. Tomorrow, the race should be run in the dry and yesterday, we saw that our pace over a long run is not bad. Our main rivals are all ahead of us on the grid and we will try and make up some places, both with Felipe and Fernando, although without taking any excessive risks.”