F1: Ferrari’s straight-line speed is a game changer, admits Massa

Felipe Massa leads the Ferrari teammates of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen during the 2015 Australian Grand Prix.

Sam Bloxham

Felipe Massa anticipates another close battle between Williams and Ferrari for ‘best of the rest’ role in Malaysia, but he says it’s impossible to tell who might have the upper hand.

The Italian team had the edge in Melbourne, but Massa hopes that at a very different track Williams might be able to sneak ahead.

“I think maybe we finished in a good shape in the Barcelona testing compared to Ferrari, but maybe in the first race they had a little bit extra margin compared to us,” he said. “I hope here we can be better. For sure if we improve two-tenths from circuit to circuit it can change already the situation, especially when you have a very close fight with a team.

“I hope it can be a better track for us. We are really working very hard on the car to improve some details that maybe we saw in the first race that we can improve in the setup and everything.

“It’s a track [where] the temperature affects the performance a lot, so if you can keep the car in the closed direction in terms of bodywork maybe you lose less downforce because of the temperature. There are a few details in terms of lap time that we are talking about, but it’s very difficult to answer in a proper way. We need to wait and see how we start, how the car feels in the first testing, and how we see the other teams.”

Massa says that Ferrari’s improvement in straight-line speed compared to last year has been a game changer.

Williams' Valtteri Bottas cleared to race Malaysia GP

“We don’t have the advantage on the straights anymore. The only thing that Ferrari showed they improved massively is the engine. They have a much better system, a much better engine, compared to last year. Last year we had a car where we were losing in the corners, we had less downforce than Ferrari but we were gaining on the straights. For sure our car this year is much better in terms of downforce, it’s much better in the corners compared to last year.

“This time we don’t have this difference on the straight any more, and we know that the aerodynamics are a big point, which we need to work as strong as we can, because we know we’re fighting with a top team, and with a team which has a big possibility financially as well to develop the car. We know how tight is the fight, but I’m really looking forward that we can do it.”

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