I can’t decide which is the bigger news out of Maranello.
Is it Fernando Alonso’s confidence heading into the Germany Grand Prix or is it the fact that Felipe Massa also has a post at the Ferrari site, which means he’s still driving for the team.
I can’t remember the last time I heard his name mentioned during a race weekend. He’s been driving this whole time? Really?
Huh, as Negative Camber might say.
Well, perhaps this weekend we will hear both drivers’ names mentioned, as Alonso is promising — based on fact — that the team will be competitive:
Returning to the championship, I want to stress that my continued confidence isnâ€™t unfounded but itâ€™s based on fact. Our car has noticeably improved in recent weeks, as we even showed at Silverstone, a track that should have theoretically been hard for us. This yearâ€™s points system increases the value of the gaps but, at the same time, it allows you to make important gains: itâ€™s clear that you have to get results. I assure you that Iâ€™ve sensed a great determination among the people who work at Maranello: we all want the same thing, which is to return to winning ways as soon as possible.
At Hockenheim we will have more new parts on the F10, in particular a new version of the diffuser. In Friday free practice weâ€™ll see if it brings the effects we hope for. But Iâ€™m very confident, given that all the new parts weâ€™ve introduced recently have worked as expected. The German track is one of the shortest in the calendar, which means that the gaps in qualifying will be smaller than elsewhere. So we will have to avoid even the slightest error on Saturday because two tenths more or less can be worth two rows on the starting grid.
I can’t let this statement from Alonso go, either: “Thereâ€™s no point in looking back and crying about it: we know that we will have to get everything right.” It’s always good to be reminded that, like in baseball, there is no crying in F1.
And what about the quiet man, Massa? Well, he’s… umm… well, let’s let him speak for himself, shall we?
It might seem an unusual thing for a race driver to wish for, but my greatest hope is that I can have a normal race. If I think back to everything that happened to me in the last three races, sometimes I still find it hard to believe that I had so much bad luck: in Montreal and Silverstone I was involved in collisions on the opening lap and in Valencia, the Safety Car came at just the wrong time for me and ruined my race. In all three of those races, our Friday and Saturday performance had proved we had a competitive car, but I never managed to translate that potential into points on the Sunday. So, my main aim is to have a trouble-free weekend from start to finish: of course I wouldnâ€™t be a racing driver if I did not have thoughts of winning the race, even if we know that, at the moment, Ferrari is up against some very strong opposition, but really, if there are no unusual incidents on Sunday and we can race to our full potential, then I will be satisfied, because if we manage to do that, then I am sure a good result is waiting for us.
Ah, the grand hopes of an F1 driver. But he does points this out: “The last time we came here, in 2008, I finished third and in 2006, I was second behind Michael (Schumacher) and in fact, I have always finished in the points here since I have been driving for Ferrari.”
We’ll see if he can keep that streak alive.
I know we’ve all been debating and talking about it, but I’ll add another layer. I have little doubt that the Ferrari’s have some solid upgrades (that said, I do have some little doubts, the way things have been going…). But that isn’t all that Ferrari needs to be focusing on this weekend. The team needs, in Felipe’s words, a “trouble-free weekend,” and that includes self-induced trouble by either the drivers or the team.
A fast car won’t make up for a series of stupid mistakes. And I have to think there’s a huge amount of pressure, self-imposed and higher-up-imposed, on everyone at the team. I’ll be watching to see if they rise to the challenge or someone cracks under the pressure.