Felipe Massa professed himself pleased with the start Ferrari has made at Interlagos ahead of the title-deciding Brazilian Grand Prix on home soil this weekend – then insisted he would simply be aiming to win, and add up the points afterwards.
Bluntly, the São Paulista needs to beat Formula 1 World Championship rival Lewis Hamilton by seven points around the Autodromo Carlos Pace if he is to lift the laurels, which mathematically means triumphing and hoping the McLaren-Mercedes star comes in no higher than sixth, or finishing second and hoping his adversary fails to better eighth.
Whilst he knows he is facing a tall order, it is equally a mountain his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen both scaled and overcame in the same race this time last year to steal the glory from under Hamilton's nose – and in out-pacing the British ace in both of Friday's practice sessions to wind up fastest in the morning and second-quickest in the afternoon, Massa has certainly made an encouraging start.
“It might only be Friday, but it's important to get off to a good start on such an important weekend,” the 27-year-old, ten-time grad prix-winner affirmed. “We found a good set-up for the car, which seemed to be well-balanced in both sessions. The track here offers a lot of grip so, even with today's low temperatures, that was not a problem, especially given the tyres we have available to us here.
“My aim is to be in front of everyone, both tomorrow and on Sunday. Then we can do the maths when it's over. Racing at home with the crowd on your side is a great motivation for me – it's a fantastic feeling, but difficult to put it into words.”
Raikkonen, for his part, lapped third and fourth-fastest respectively in the morning and afternoon sessions, happy to be back at the scene of his greatest triumph where he claimed the 2007 crown. Twelve months on, he knows what is expected of him.
“It was a generally positive day for us,” the Finn stated, “although it is still only Friday, which means it's too early to draw any definite conclusions. We worked through our usual programme and tried various settings on the car. The only difficulty was linked to the weather, with the rain coming down occasionally.
“My aim is to do my own race and help the team reach its objectives – and I know what I have to do for that to happen. It will be a tough race on Sunday and you never know what could happen; we have to be prepared for every eventuality.”
Indeed, the Scuderia
needs to notch up just seven points in Brazil to make sure of constructors' honours, and even if the team is well aware Massa is up against it in his efforts to make it a dual championship success story, the unpredictable weather conditions could just mean there is one final unforeseen twist left in what has been an extraordinary season of competition.