Felipe Massa has admitted that was taken aback by the design of the new Ferrari F1 machine, and many will question the state of the Brazilian's eyesight after he described the F60 as 'cute'
The Scuderia became the first team to unveil its 2009 challenger when it took the covers off the F60 in a low-key launch at Maranello, before Massa had the chance to get behind the wheel for the first time at Mugello. Like the interim cars fielded by some of Ferrari's rivals over the various winter tests, the F60 is hardly what fans of sleek F1 designs would call pretty, but Massa seems to have taken a liking to the heavily re-designed machine.
"With all the new rules, I was expecting a different type of car, like ten years ago with big wings, so I was surprised," he admitted to journalists at the launch, "Instead, the new F60 seems tiny - very compact and cute."
The car, named F60 in reflection of the number of F1 championships Ferrari has contested, bears the hallmarks of the sweeping changes instigated by the FIA's Overtaking Working Group in an effort to improve the on-track spectacle from 2009, but its wiser front wing and taller, thinner rear wing will undoubtedly attract the same kind of comment at those directed at BMW Sauber's test hack, which started the ball rolling with regard to the 'look' of the future F1.
Just hours after the media got their first glimpse of the car, Massa took the F60 for a couple of laps around the Scuderia's 'second' circuit, at Mugello, having had to shelve plans to debut the machine at home at Fiorano because of snow and ice. Although the Brazilian managed just two laps at the start of the session, he admitted that he was looking forward to getting back behind the wheel as soon as possible.
"I feel emotional, but I'm also happy and excited to take it out on track for the first time," the 2008 season runner-up commented, before confirming that he was also looking forward to locking horns with McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and anyone else determined to snatch the crown away from the Briton.
"Every year you feel stronger, better prepared psychologically and physically," Massa noted, "but I feel stronger from the point of view of experience. I feel ready for a great battle.
"Right now, it's difficult to say who will be the main rivals but, for sure, McLaren will make life the most difficult. However, there's also BMW, Renault and maybe other surprises. We don't know how good the Ferrari will be, but there's still a long way to go before the first race."