Massa relieved at Jerez
PLEASED: Ferrari driver Felipe Massa is happy not to have relived the 2012 testing nightmare. Image: AFP
Author: ALAN BALDWIN
JEREZ, Spain - Felipe Massa delivered his verdict on Ferrari's new Formula 1 cars after the first day of testing on Tuesday and signs of relief were likely heard around Maranello.
If the Brazilian did not appear overly thrilled after setting the sixth-fastest time, he was happy at least not to be the bearer of bad news.
A year ago, Massa called Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo from the first day of testing in Jerez to inform him that the car was "a disaster" - a call the Italian described a week before Jerez testing started, as one he would not wish on his worst enemy.
Montezemolo could answer his mobile without trepidation this time.
Massa said he would tell his boss that "there are so many things to understand with the car and to work on and do but the first, basic feeling is nothing like last year" and added: "I think if you compare to last year, it's a completely different planet. Last year I remember I was struggling a lot to drive the car, it was difficult to keep the car on the track. This year the base on the car is different.
"For sure there is relief because maybe this is an indication that we are not going to lose time," said Massa.
"Last year when we drove the car for the first time we lost a lot of time, maybe more than a month of development to fix the issues."
Ferrari made up some of the gap, but still arrived in Australia last year with a car that was off the pace even though double World champion Fernando Alonso managed to keep in contention against the odds.
By the halfway point in the season, the Spaniard had a commanding lead that was then whittled away by Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel who captured his third title at the Brazilian finale.
Ferrari, overall runners-up in 2012, are determined 2013 will be different and Massa's first impressions will have given them reason to be hopeful in a year without major regulation changes.
"The car is much more balanced. I felt a good direction in the middle of the car as well, it didn't lose traction. I would say the difference compared to 2012 is huge," said Massa, who will shoulder most of the early testing burden.
Alonso is missing the first test and will not drive the car until the second test in Barcelona on February 19.