Massa and Raikkonen optimistic for 2009

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    Massa and Raikkonen optimistic for 2009

    Post by Ross on 12th January 2009, 10:05

    Source: ITV F1

    Massa shakes down the new F60 at Mugello

    Felipe Massa believes he is starting his seventh Formula 1 season stronger than ever following his championship near-miss in 2008.

    The Ferrari driver, who lost out on the drivers’ crown by a single point to McLaren rival Lewis Hamilton at the final round, confounded many long-time critics with his performances last season as he emerged as the team’s main title contender.

    And looking ahead to the new campaign at Ferrari’s F60 launch on Monday, the Brazilian is confident last year’s experiences will stand him in good stead for another assault on the world crown.

    “If you look at my career from when I started until now, every year I feel stronger,” he told Ferrari’s official website prior to the unveiling.

    “After so much experience in these last six years I feel stronger, I feel more experienced, especially after last year.

    “How the championship came from the middle to the end of the season, how difficult it was, I think you learn and that makes me for sure ready and even more experienced for this year.”

    For the second time in his Ferrari career, Massa was given the honour of giving the team's new car its track debut during a series of laps at Mugello on Monday morning.

    The 27-year-old admitted it was a proud moment for him given the history of the team and the months of development time that had gone into the car’s design at its Maranello base.

    “Especially when you race for Ferrari and you bring the car for the first time on the track it is always quite an important and emotional day for us,” he said.

    “It is the second time I will bring the car to the track for the first time and I am very happy and proud because I think it is very important for a driver to bring the car for the first time to the track.

    “But also it’s quite emotional because it is a very important day for the whole team, for the whole tifosi and that makes me quite happy and [full of] emotion at the same time.”

    Massa added that he was pleasantly surprised by the appearance of the F60, having expected it to look much bulkier given the radical changes to the aerodynamic rules.

    “When I was on the plane coming here I was thinking ‘how is the new car going to be like?’” he said.

    “To be honest I’m quite surprised because I was expecting a big car like it was 10 years ago, for example.

    “And when I get here the car is very small, very compact, in the rear end especially.

    “It looks pretty nice, pretty cute and hopefully it will be as quick as it looks.”

    And Massa acknowledged that the regulation overhaul, which has also seen the introduction of KERS energy recovery systems and the return of slick tyres, made it more difficult than usual to assess the likely front-runners so early in pre-season.

    “Well I think it is quite difficult to [pin]point who is going to be really the most difficult car to beat for us,” he said.

    “We expect that McLaren will be very competitive, maybe BMW – they are working very hard and growing a lot year by year – maybe Renault and maybe we can have some other teams which can show a great performance as well.

    “So I think it is really difficult to say who is going to be the quickest car, but we are working very hard and hopefully it will be us.”

    Raikkonen watches on as Massa gives the F60 its first run (Ferrari image)

    Teammate Kimi Raikkonen meanwhile, was just as optimistic, and insists he will rebound from his disappointing title defence last year.

    After finally winning his maiden championship at the end of his first season at Ferrari, Raikkonen failed to build on that achievement last year and slipped behind team-mate Felipe Massa as he struggled to consistently get the best out of the F2008.

    But on the day the team launched its new F60 car, the 29-year-old was keen to look forward to the new campaign – one in which he is expecting Ferrari to adapt well to the major regulation changes.

    “Last year was not exactly what I wanted and it’s in the past now and we try this year again,” he said in an interview with Ferrari’s official website.

    “Of course it’s a big question mark over how good the car is and who makes the best car because the rules have changed a lot.

    “But we are very confident that the car should be very good and we will see in the next few weeks how good it is against the others.

    “For sure we will try to win both championships and we will go testing and see how it is and go from there."

    While Massa was given the honour of giving the F60 its track bow at Mugello on Monday, Raikkonen was eager to get back to both testing and racing action following the winter break.

    “Racing is the most important, most exciting thing for us and it is nice to get back in the car, especially with a new car as it is always good fun,” he said.

    “But I’m also waiting for the first race and it will be very, very nice to get back in racing when we start in Melbourne.”

    He also gave the thumbs-up to the aesthetics of the new Ferrari, saying: “It looks different because of the new regulations, but I think after looking at it for a little while you get used to it and for me, while it looks different, it looks very good.

    “I’m happy to see it running on the circuit to see how it goes.”

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