Ferrari race engineer Rob Smedley refuses to write off Felipe Massa's chances of joining this season's list of F1 race winners, despite the Brazilian not having troubled the top three in eight outings.
Struggling to adapt to the F2012 at the start of the campaign, Massa looked set for another year of frustration and suggestions that he needed to be replaced in the #6 machine sooner rather than later. However, as the Scuderia has improved the car, so Massa's performances have picked up, although Smedley - who guides the Brazilian through races - admits that he needs to add a little good fortune with the final touches to his own production.
“In sport, you need some luck, even if it's true to say you make your own luck and, in the past, maybe we have not made our own,” the Englishman told Ferrari's official website, “There have been bad races here and, in 2008 at Silverstone, I personally had my worst ever race, where I did not make a single correct decision throughout the afternoon. But we never stop hoping.
"Right now, going into Silverstone, there is very little that Felipe is lacking for him to be back where he was in terms of driving and confidence in the car. You need things to go your way and, at the last race, we didn't have that. Going back to Canada, he made a little mistake at the start, which changed everything and, in Monaco, he was stuck in a train of traffic for 70 laps. However, in terms of his pace in those recent races, and the way he was driving and his confidence, he is a different driver to the way he was at the start of the season. So, we are missing very little, maybe a tiny one per cent to make it all start happening for us.”
With team-mate Fernando Alonso leading the championship and the first driver to win two races in 2012, the spotlight has been a little harsher on Massa, who currently languishes down in 16th overall, with just eleven points - exactly 100 less than the Spaniard - to his name. However, the pair qualified just 0.073secs apart last time out in Valencia, before the bad luck Smedley talks about scuppered Massa's race.
Silverstone, however, could be a chance for both Ferrari drivers to shine again, with the engineer confident that the F2012 will be one of the more potent packages around the quick Northamptonshire venue. Alonso took advantage of a temporary ban on blown diffusers to record a victory in the 2011 race, on the 60th anniversary of Froilan Gonzalez's triumph at the same circuit, and Smedley is equally optimistic when it comes to the Scuderia's prospects this time around.
“I think our chances are good at Silverstone this weekend, even if it's no secret we still need to develop and have a quicker car," he noted, "In Valencia, we didn't have the quickest car but, compared to the start of the year, we had a much improved car, which is down to a great job from the whole team.
"However, our car has always been particularly suited to high speed corners and Silverstone is dominated by high speed turns for almost two-thirds of the track. I hope therefore that we can go and make the most of it; not only all the recent development work we have done on the F2012, but also the fact that our car is fundamentally good in high speed corners. That is why I feel we are in with a very good chance this weekend.”
Despite talking up the Prancing Horse's chances, however, Smedley admits that he, along with most everyone else, will still be guessing when it comes to predicting a winner.
“I don't think we have ever seen racing this close, as no-one has a clear understanding and all the knowledge, specifically about the tyres,” he concluded, "It means you go to Silverstone and, really, any one of ten drivers could win it. In all the time I have been working in the sport - and even before, when I was just watching - we never had that situation. It's great for the sport and it's also great for us.”