Friday, May 16, 2008

A race weekend with… Felipe Massa

Of all the circuits on the Formula One calendar Ferrari’s Felipe Massa counts Istanbul Park as one of his favourites. Not only has Massa scored three successive pole positions in Turkey, he has also won the Grand Prix three times.

And when the celebrations had died down on Sunday, following his third Turkish victory, we caught up with the Brazilian to ask him about his routine over a race weekend, get a few tips about the season’s best nightlife and find out how he relaxes after a Grand Prix…

Q: We were in Istanbul this weekend, what do you associate with this circuit?

Felipe Massa: This is a fantastic circuit and a very special place for me. Here I had my first victory and it is really great to win again here for the third time. The track is very challenging for the driver and also the city is very nice.

Q: You don't take to the track until Friday morning, but when do you like to fly in?

FM: I usually arrive on the Wednesday and then leave on the Monday.

Q: Do you make an effort to discover your surroundings at a race, or do you stick to the airport-hotel-track-airport itinerary?

FM: Sometimes we have time to go out in the evening and eat in a nice restaurant but we don't have much time to visit the city.

Q: What's your exercise regime over a race weekend? Does it vary according to the race location, the demands of the circuit etc?

FM: For sure it depends on the track. We have a special preparation for each circuit. There are tracks which are quite easy on the physical preparation and some others which can be more difficult because they have a lot of lateral G-forces. And when it is hot it is even more complicated

Q: What's your preferred accommodation at races - city hotel, hotel near the circuit, your own motorhome near the paddock?

FM: It depends. I normally like to be close to the track, but here I stay in the city. The hotel is very nice and the town is fantastic as well.

Q: Is there anything you have to have provided in your hotel room, or any luxuries you always bring with you from home?

FM: No, I'm quite a simple and normal guy, for sure I like to stay in a nice room but they don't need to change things for me.

Q: Do you enjoy entertaining friends and family during a race weekend?

FM: Yes of course, I feel very comfortable if my family and my wife are with me.

Q: Do you get the chance to go out and socialise on Friday and Saturday night?

FM: No, during a race weekend we need to go to sleep early and be prepared for the race. But I sometimes go out on Sunday night.

Q: Any drivers you particularly like hanging out with?

FM: Yes, I know Rubens (Barrichello) very well. We always go out together when we have time, and Michael (Schumacher) of course when he was still here. When I go out on Sunday I also meet other drivers and I have to say I have a good relationship with most of the drivers.

Q: Your favourite race for nightlife?

FM: There are many places we go to which are nice for nightlife. I enjoy Brazil, Canada, Australia and I am sure Singapore will be nice too.

Q: What's the best night out you've had at a Grand Prix? And have you ever overslept the next morning?

FM: I have had many good moments so it is difficult to point out just one. When I go out, the next morning I like to sleep until midday - if I can.

Q: What do you have for breakfast on a race Sunday?

FM: Usually cereal with no-fat milk.

Q: How much do you drink over a race weekend? And what?

FM: During a race weekend we need to drink a lot of water with mineral salt to have enough energy for the race.

Q: How do you spend the morning on a race Sunday?

FM: In a normal way - I just concentrate on the race.

Q: How do you like to get to the circuit on Sunday morning? Do you drive yourself?

FM: Yes, I usually drive myself.

Q: How do you like to spend the hour or so before the race? Any superstitions or pre-race rituals you always go through to bring you luck?

FM: Yes, if the weekend is going well I like to use the same clothes and I always get in the car from the left-hand side. These things may seem stupid but they make you feel fine.

Q: Do you have a lucky charm?

FM: No

Q: What do you do to stay calm as you're sat on the grid awaiting the formation lap?

FM: Nothing special, I just concentrate on the race.

Q: How do you wind down after the race?

FM: Of course, when you are still at the track it is difficult to relax but when I go back to the hotel I take a nice shower, watch some TV and cool down, then I go out with my family and friends and go back to normal life.

Q: If things don't go your way and you retire early, do you prefer to get away as soon as possible, or hang out and watch the rest of the race?

FM: I prefer to watch the rest of the race and stay for the meeting after the race, which is very important because you talk about the race while everything is still fresh in your mind.

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