Felipe Massa insisted that he was happy with the first day of running in the new Ferrari F138, despite being 1.7s off the quickest time at the end of the day.
Massa stressed that it was a much better start than last year, when the F2012 proved to be something of a disaster.
“I think compared to last year it’s a completely different planet,” said the Brazilian. “Last year we were struggling also to drive the car, it was difficult to keep the car on the track. This year the pace is completely different than last year, the car is much more balanced. I felt a good direction at the rear of the car as well in terms of traction. This is a track which is very difficult on the rear, so degradation is very high.
“I would say the difference compared to last year is huge. It’s always a start, it’s always a beginning of another year. We know how important is it to understand the car from now to the first race, so there’s a lot to do. The direction is different from last year, there’s a lot to do in the car, there’s a lot to do to understand the right direction to make the car ready for the first race.”
Asked if he was disappointed in any way by the car’s initial performance – given his low-key demeanour – Massa was quick to refute the suggestion.
“For sure I’m not disappointed, definitely. We didn’t drive a lot, we had a few issues in the car in terms of temperature inside the car, to understand it. The car at the beginning was maybe a little bit hotter than I expected, so we need to understand the direction to fix that. I don’t think it’s a really difficult thing to fix. But we didn’t drive a lot. I’m not disappointed.
“The 18.8s [by Button] is an incredible time, definitely. Looking at the first day, how we ran, how we drove, and the direction we had for the first day, I’m not really disappointed. There’s a lot to do, a lot of work, there’s a lot to develop on the car for the first race, this is clear. But I’m not disappointed.”
Asked by this blog what he thought of Pirelli’s 2013 tyres, he said: “The tyres are for sure much more soft direction. I don’t think really that this is a track that you can compare to other tracks, this track the degradation is very, very high, so for sure the medium tyres here feel like the soft on another track. I don’t think it will really be a problem to go to the soft side, if you’re asking which direction I prefer, I prefer this direction.”