Formula One runner-up Felipe Massa vowed to learn from his past mistakes after taking the new 2009 F60 Ferrari for it’s first test spin.
Brazilian Massa lost the 2008 world title on the final bend of the final race, his home Grand Prix in São Paulo, to Britain’s Lewis Hamilton.
Massa won that race and as he crossed the line he was the de facto world champion, but McLaren’s Hamilton passed a slowing Timo Glock on the final bend to snatch the point he needed to overhaul his Brazilian rival.
That is in the past, though, and having tasted his first experience of the changes made to the Ferrari car following a spate of new International Automobile Federation (FIA) regulations, Massa is feeling positive ahead of the new season.
”Next week in Portugal we’ll work on the little problems we had,” he said after his first run out at the famous Mugello circuit just outside Florence.
Most of the design changes imposed by the FIA have been aimed at increasing overtaking in a sport often lacking in excitement due to the difficulties in passing the car in front.
A shorter front wing, a thinner but higher and more compact rear wing and standardised central chassis are all modifications introduced by the FIA’s Overtaking Working Group (OWG).
Other changes include an improvement to the suspension to make handling in difficult conditions easier, while slick tyres will be re-introduced this year.
The Kers system to recuperate kinetic energy has also been installed on the engine while the transmission has been redesigned to improve aerodynamic efficiency.
The new Kers system was one that provoked some concern before testing, but Massa revealed that it was in full working order.
”It was a test to see if everything was working and it went well. Everything went well, the engine, the changes, aerodynamics, suspension,” he said.
”Even the Kers, there wasn’t even a single little problem with it and that’s important.
”The Kers works. We started off carefully, picking things up as we went along and everything worked.”
Massa also looked back on his agonising defeat to Hamilton.
”The worst days help you learn. It was a great day because winning at home in Brazil was important because I think certain things happen for a reason.
”And that has motivated me to work harder to fight and to improve. I always look to the future and I don’t want to look behind me.
”I believe that with myself and Ferrari we’ll be fighting for the title again this season.”
The 2007 world champion, Finn Kimi Raikkonen, did not take part in the testing but he too is looking forward to the new season after a disastrous 2008.
He won only two races and took only two poles in 17 races before finishing the season 23 points behind Hamilton.
”The F60 is different to previous cars due to the new rules, but it’s a beautiful car,” he said.
”Last year didn’t go as I wanted it to but that’s in the past now. Right now there’s lots of questions surrounding the new rules.
”We’ve a lot of confidence in the new car and our aim is to win both titles [drivers’ and constructors’].
”The races are the most important things. Trying out the car will be electrifying but racing at Melbourne [in the first race of the season] will be something altogether different.
”I can’t wait for the start of the new season.” — Sapa-AFP