Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen have insisted that Ferrari has its focus set firmly on 2009 Formula 1 glory following a season which came so close for the former and only got into gear for the latter when it was 'already too late'.
The Maranello pairing – in company with team principal Stefano Domenicali – were in Monaco at the weekend for the FIA's annual, star-studded Gala Awards evening, and Massa was able to reflect on a campaign that saw him win and then lose the world championship on the very last lap of the very last race in front of his adoring home fans in Brazil last month.
Though he ultimately and agonisingly missed out on the laurels by just a single point at the end of a hotly-fought season that saw the initiative swing back and forth between himself and McLaren-Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton, the São Paulista knew he could be justifiably proud of his efforts – and vowed to finish the job off in 2009.
“This has been an incredibly closely-contested season,” the 27-year-old acknowledged, “which produced an amazing final. When you lose the world title by a single point, having had it in your grasp for a handful of seconds, it would be easy to take it badly – but I prefer to look to the future and to see things in a positive light.
“I won six races and played my part in the team taking the constructors' championship, which I know is so important for Ferrari. We are already looking to a new season, and I will do my utmost to come back here to Monaco next year to claim the prize which has [this year] gone to Lewis.”
Raikkonen, by contrast, endured a disappointing campaign as defending F1 World Champion, with just a brace of early victories to his credit in Malaysia and Spain and persistent mid-season accusations that he had lost not only his motivation, but indeed even his mojo. In 2009, he knows, he must bounce back or potentially face the exit door.
“I would have preferred to be here collecting the world champion's trophy for a second consecutive time,” the Finn mused, “but this year things did not go my way. The season got off to a good start but then, for various reasons, the situation got complicated and by the time we were back on-form it was already too late.
“However, we learnt some valuable lessons which will come in useful next year. I am happy that Ferrari won, confirming its position as world champion – it's an exceptional team that never gives up.”
Those sentiments were corroborated by Domenicali, whose first year at the head of the Scuderia's
grand prix activities culminated in a second straight constructors' crown.
“I am honoured to be here,” the Italian confessed, “at the end of my first year in charge of the team, to collect the constructors' trophy that goes to the world championship-winning team. This is the 16th time in Scuderia Ferrari's history and the eighth in the last ten years that we have won this award, and it comes courtesy of all the hard work, passion and determination put in by everyone at Maranello.
“My thoughts and thanks go to each and every one of them for what they were able to achieve, to our drivers and also to Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, who along with Jean Todt chose me to fill this role. He has always given his support, especially during the most difficult moments.”