Ferrari vow to help Massa
Domenicali aware Massa doesn't need any extra pressure on him
Last Updated: 19/03/12 3:17pm
Massa: Spin in Friday practice set the tone
Stefano Domenicali says Ferrari will help Felipe Massa overcome the problems he experienced with the F2012 in Australia so that the under-pressure Brazilian can purely focus on his driving.
While Ferrari have fallen a long way short of their pre-season targets, and struggled for qualifying pace in Melbourne in particular, Massa experienced a particularly torrid weekend.
The 11-time race winner spun in first practice, slumped to 16th place in qualifying and then struggled badly with tyre wear in the race, before eventually retiring following a collision with Williams' Bruno Senna.
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The Brazilian's race fortunes were in stark contrast to team-mate Fernando Alonso's who overcame his own qualifying setback - which saw him spin out of Q2 - to hustle the Ferrari to fifth place, the Spaniard at times having been lapping several seconds quicker than the struggling sister car.
Both driver and team acknowledged prior to the season that this was an important year for him to rediscover his best form yet Massa's disastrous Melbourne weekend has already served to increase speculation over his future at the team given his contract runs out in nine months' time.
Domenicali, Ferrari's Team Principal, says a lack of balance in his car badly hindered Massa in both qualifying and the race and that the team's engineers would now go and analyse exactly what went wrong before this weekend's Malaysian GP.
"I think that the point was starting from yesterday [in qualifying] - Felipe didn't feel to have a great balance on the car. So it has affected the performance of the qualifying and also the race," Domenicali explained.
"So now what is important is to realise analyse everything in order to make sure there is nothing strange, because that is a fundamental thing that we need to do in order to help Felipe to make sure he is performing without any extra pressure.
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"I know that he has [pressure on him] but he needs to be focused really on his driving and we need to help him on that."
Nonetheless, with Alonso's strong drive from 12th on the grid to fifth having lifted some of the gloom at Ferrari, Domenicali says the race proved useful in helping the team get to the bottom of the issues with their complex car.
He was pleased with the pace through the first two stints, but says the team need to investigate why things became more difficult for Alonso following the appearance of the safety car when he came under threat from Pastor Maldonado's Williams.
"I think that we learned for sure a couple of things [in the race]," the Italian said.
"First of all, that the performance of today was not what the performance that we saw yesterday. Overall the performance of the first two stints of the race was not too bad considering really the situation.
"Then after the safety car something happened so we need to understand what was the real problem because we saw a different race pace if you compare the first two [stints] and the last one. So this is the analysis that we have to do."