Felipe Massa fired up for Ferrari red letter day
A red letter day for Formula One glamour team Ferrari this weekend provides the perfect occasion for Felipe Massa to rekindle his Turkish Grand Prix love affair.
Istanbul: A red letter day for Formula One glamour team Ferrari this weekend provides the perfect occasion for Felipe Massa to rekindle his Turkish Grand Prix love affair.
Sunday`s seventh round of the season will be the scuderia`s 800th grand prix, a milestone no other team is close to matching, and the Italians would dearly love to celebrate in style.
Massa could be just the man, even if rampant Red Bull look the runaway favourites after taking pole position in every race so far.
The Brazilian, fifth in the championship and 12 points adrift of his Spanish team mate Fernando Alonso, has not won a race since 2008, having missed much of last year due to life-threatening head injuries suffered in Hungary last July.
Three races ago he was leading the standings but now needs to get back at least on level-pegging terms with Alonso, who won the season-opener in Bahrain.
Istanbul Park, out near the city`s second airport on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, has favoured the little Brazilian like no other driver since the country first hosted Formula One in 2005.
Two years ago, after winning there for the third time in a row, Massa quipped that he was about ready to apply for Turkish citizenship.
"It`s a great memory," he told the Ferrari website (www.ferrari.com) this week. "It`s a track I love to race, I enjoy driving this track and I won three times in five races.”
"I think it gives even more motivation to go there...to push even harder and fight for the victory.”
The circuit, running anti-clockwise like his beloved home Interlagos track, also gave Massa his first Formula One pole position and first victory in 2006.
"I believe we can bring a good car," he said. "I think if everything works perfectly, we can have a competitive car.”
"It`s a great pleasure for me to be a small part of these 800 grands prix for Ferrari," he added. "I will try my best to go to Turkey to fight for the victory, to have also a nice celebration about these 800 grands prix.”
"It`s a fantastic feeling to be inside this nice story."
Alonso, the double champion who has already stamped his authority on the team, will be a big threat but the Red Bulls could again be just too fast for any rivals.
Australian Mark Webber will be going for his third win in a row while German team mate Sebastian Vettel, level at the top of the standings on points but behind on race wins, is another Turkey lover.
Vettel, who will have a different chassis to the one used in the last two races after a defect was found post-Monaco, made his Formula One debut in Turkey as a Friday test driver with BMW-Sauber in 2006 at the age of 19.
The youngster made an instant impression, as Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone recalled.
"I said to him, right before his very first free practice... that he had received his super license just temporarily, so don`t screw up but justify our trust in you," the 79-year-old Briton told a website.
"The next thing I saw was his name on the very top of the timesheets. Then I thought to myself that this boy, only 18 years-old, is a sensation."
Vettel, still just 22, started on pole last year and could well walk away from Turkey with the outright lead of the championship.
Red Bull have started every race this year on pole, and Istanbul has historically smiled on the top slot.
Britain`s Jenson Button won last year in a Brawn car he described at the time as a `monster`. His McLaren cannot claim a similar moniker but the world champion and team mate Lewis Hamilton will still be challenging for victory anyway.