Felipe Massa hopes that he can overcome the problems he suffered in Australia after Ferrari built up its spare chassis for his use in an attempt to resolve the balance problems that afflicted him.
The Brazilian qualified a disastrous 16th in Melbourne, and retired after clumsy contact with Bruno Senna’s Williams.
“We need to turn the page after Australia and start again from zero,” said the Brazilian in Malaysia today. “And that is what we are planning for this race, which I hope will get off to a good start.
“This is not the first time that I have had a difficult race, there have been many. But one always has to look to the next one and this weekend will be only the second of the championship, so there is still time. As for Melbourne, it’s true I have never had a weekend where the car has felt so bad right from the first day. The car was not working the way it should and after just a few laps, the tyres were gone, but this was not a problem with the tyres, it was caused by the car’s lack of balance.
“We are changing the chassis for this race and I think it is the right thing to do. Every time I drove this car during winter testing I never had any of the problems I had from the first day in Australia. The day after Fernando drove the same car in Barcelona for example, there was never anything strange or different in terms of lap times, race pace or tyre degradation.
“Then you arrive in Australia and see that everything is different, so changing the chassis is definitely the right thing to do. But it’s not just the chassis that is changed for here, as we are replacing many of the components.
“Even if we are changing the chassis and other parts, the car is still the same car in development terms that we had in Melbourne. We have to try this to get the most out of it, even if we are not where we ought to be in terms of performance compared to others. I hope this track will suit the car better.”
Massa said he was unconcerned about media criticism: “To be honest, I really don’t care. I never drove depending on what others think or say about me. I just do my job thinking about trying to do the best I can in the car. When I arrived here in 2008, people were saying I was out of Ferrari, because I did not finish in Australia and then I did not finish here and it went on to become my best season. Things can change very quickly from one day to the next. The only thing I care about is to have the car I know from winter testing.”
Meanwhile Massa’s former team mate Michael Schumacher was keen to offer some moral support today.
“If I look at all the winter testing I think it was very clear that the two drivers were very close together,” said Schumacher. “If you look at the optimum lap time achieved in the Barcelona tests, it’s again very close. So to see the big difference that we saw in Melbourne, I can only assume there must have been something not right for him.
“He’s been around for so long. He’s been fighting for the championship in 2008, he’s always been up front so I don’t see any reason why he should not be capable of doing so in the future. I trust he will do so, and that the team will do their utmost to give him the support that he needs.”