Felipe Massa ended the Jerez test, his first for Williams, in an upbeat mood describing the situation at Williams as “better than expected” and tipping his former team mate Fernando Alonso to have the upper hand at Ferrari over his replacement Kimi Raikkonen.
Asked by Italian media why he he had said Alonso would come out on top Massa said,
“Because he is very intelligent, he’s already worked out the new regulations and he knows what he needs to do to be quick straight away. He combines talent with savvy. He has a lively intelligence
and that is what is needed with this change of regulations.
“Then again the cars are very different and you never know, they may suit Kimi’s style better than Fernando’s, we will see.”
Massa set the fastest time on Friday in the Mercedes-powered Williams, his second day in the car. The 32 year old Brazilian covered 133 laps and his 1m 23.7s lap was the second fastest of the week after McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen. But the times are barely relevant at this stage. Jerez was all about getting the cars to run reliably and learning as much as possible about the new hybrid power train.
After eight seasons at Ferrari, Massa has a great deal of adapting to do to a new environment, but Williams is well adapted to South American drivers with Montoya, Barrichello, Bruno Senna and Maldonado all working there in recent years.
“I’m happy because what I’ve found inside the team is better than I expected. The team is very good people, very professional people,” said Massa.
“Other teams were doing more laps than us but they were also a little bit more prepared than us. Mercedes is one company so they have everything ready and they know it works before us. Ferrari as well,”
One notable point raised by the Brazilian, who will break through the 200 Grands Prix barrier in the first half of this season, is the braking technique; it is different with the 2014 cars and will take some time to adapt to,
“The brakes work in a different way. It’s electronic brakes, brake by wire, and I still need to improve the way I’m braking because it’s different it’s a little bit strange sometimes,” he said.
“We still need to understand how to use the engine. The car has a lot of wheelspin and less downforce than last year. The engine is strong but with less downforce it makes it more difficult to drive.”
Williams ran in plain blue livery at Jerez, but the team is expected to announce a sponsorship with Martini shortly. It’s quite a significant deal and it offers great opportunities for the team on the merchandising side. Get the livery and product range right and they could do very well indeed.
Martini sponsored Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham team in the 1970s with some iconic liveries.
It is part of the Bacardi Group, the largest privately held spirits company in the world. Michael Schumacher had an social responsibility association with Bacardi in the late 2000s.
* Pirelli data from the first test shows that the F1 teams this season racked up half the mileage of last season’s first test.
Last year the first four day outing saw 15,364km of running, compared to just 6,509km. Much of this is due to the lack of running by the Renault powered teams.
Mercedes did just 58km less than last year, while Ferrari were only 111km short of their 2013 Jerez mileage.
The fastest time this year, set by Magnussen in the McLaren was five and a half seconds slower than the benchmark time of 2013, set by Massa in a Ferrari.
Pirelli’s real work begins with the two tests in Bahrain later this month, where it will get more significant data on tyre behaviour in hotter conditions and teams can assess the thermal degradation of the 2014 tyres in ideal conditions.