We sat down with Brazilian Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa to learn more about his return to the sport, joining Team Williams with Martini and his racing past.
Sponsorships don’t always look great or good together, but the partnership in Formula 1 between Martini and Williams makes sense. Both are family run businesses and Martini has been involved in racing from day one – they were the first ever non-racing sponsor, placing their famous logo on the German BG Racing team’s Porsche 907 in 1968.
Fast forward to now, Williams Martini Racing, unveiled their all-new Mercedes FW36 car for the 2014 F1 season. This is atop of Williams Martini Racing showcasing their all-new driver lineup, including their new leading main man, Felipe Massa. The Brazilian driver is an experienced talent and proven race winner, with 11 race wins and 36 podiums to his credit during a hugely successful career with Ferrari. In this exclusive interview, Massa discusses his expectations for the new F1 season, the new car and joining a force like Williams Martini Racing.
What are the hopes for the upcoming season and first race in Melbourne in two weeks?
I really expect we can have a good season – we can have a competitive car; we can have a reliable car. We have shown good reliability and performance up until now. I really hope that we [Williams Martini Racing] can get back to the top. Me, as a driver and Martini racing as a team with Williams Martini Racing have potential, which has been missing, so really hope it’s possible.
Testing suggests Williams Martini Racing have a competitive car and some of the other top teams like Red Bull are struggling somewhat. How do you feel about that? Is it leading to a strong possibility of a podium finish?
I hope we have a chance of a podium finish and I hope we have a chance for a good season, not just a podium finish in the first race but season championship. There are a lot of changes to this car and there’s a lot to improve to make this car better and better all the time.
I don’t think we can take Red Bull out. I think they didn’t run – we never saw them on the track. I’m sure they’ll have a competitive car. They know how to make a quick car, so we cannot take Red Bull out, so we have to wait. Once they’re going to be on the track and be out running, then we’ll be sure where they are. And I hope even when they’re running all the time and not suffering with the reliability issue we can be there fighting with them. I think if this happens it can be very nice!
Have you noticed anything significant in the power and drive of the car given the smaller engines for the 2014 season?
I think the power is amazing and the engine is giving a very good feeling, very good power. The Mercedes is a very incredible feeling; the way they work, the way they are, the way they develop the engine and everything, so I’m really happy. One of the first important moves from Williams Martini Racing was to change to Mercedes and I think it is very important for the championship. I believe maybe the Mercedes team is one of the top ones now. We need to wait and see where we are compared to them as well, so let’s wait, keep our feet on the ground and try to have a good start.
Do you get a sense of the history of the Williams Martini Racing team now that you have signed to them? Williams Martini Racing, of course, was the home of some fantastic drivers like Nigel Mansell, Jacques Villeneve and Damon Hill.
And Ayrton Senna! Yes, of course. I have a great understanding of Williams Martini Racing and what Williams Martini Racing did in the past, and I am very happy to be here and be part of the team. I hope together we can achieve a lot.
Let’s think about the future and not the past.
How does it compare to Ferrari who has a similar rich history?
For sure, Ferrari are maybe the biggest team in Formula 1 and a very nice team. I am really happy for where I lived together with Ferrari. I will never forget them. I will always have a good relationship with Ferrari but it’s a different time now. I really enjoy the work I’m doing together with Williams Martini Racing and I hope that it’s the right time for a good change. I need this change and I’m happy as well.
We all know you are one of the fastest when you have the car under you. Does being at Williams Martini Racing and arguably being the number one driver in the team allow you to have the car built around you?
I think it allows me to be clear. It’s been great working together with the engineers and the team. It took a heavy weight off my back, which feels nice and feels good working together with the team. The way they look to me – whatever I say, they’re doing. I think it’s really positive and really good for the work.
Surely that’s a change from your days at Ferrari?
Yeah, it’s different. But it’s different for everybody. Let’s think about the future and not the past.
Stay tuned for more from the world of Formula 1 and see Williams Martini Racing in action here.
Interview by Denis Yong for Highsnobiety.com
- Photography: Ollie Adegboye