Ferrari's Felipe Massa has had a troubled, to say the least, 2012 Formula 1 Championship season so far. The Brazilian, once a strong number two within the Italian team to seven time former World Champion Michael Schumacher, former World Champion Kimi Raikkonen and even, on earlier occasions, to present team mate Fernando Alonso, has performed poorly this season and has scored only 10 points from the opening six races; Alonso has 76 and leads the Drivers' World Championship standings.
Normally a favourite within the team, it appeared, before the previous race at Monte Carlo, Ferrari's patience was wearing thin, as chief executive Luca di Montezemolo and senior officials within the Formula 1 division all made pointed references to Massa's form.
The Brazilian responded with an improved showing at the Monaco Grand Prix, qualifying a season-best seventh and finishing in sixth. The 31 year old is now looking to carry that form into the weekend's Canadian Grand Prix and hopefully even improve.
"It was a good clean race weekend where nothing went wrong and I had good pace right from the first session," Massa told the Ferrari Web site, adding, "I hope we can use that fact and everything we found there to go better here in Canada and for the remaining races of the season. It was a positive weekend, although I cannot be happy finishing sixth. Although Monaco is very different to other tracks, we can use some of what we found there at other circuits. That weekend helped us understand things we had not understood before. I feel much better in the car and it really suits my driving style now, so I expect to improve race by race, with victory and the podium as my target."
The Brazilian also spoke on technical updates for the F2012, explaining the team was looking to increase downforce capabilities ahead of the race in Montreal. In addition, the team will also be testing new exhaust systems for the race.
"We have some pieces to try here and the direction is to find downforce," Massa confirmed, "How much the updates can bring, we will have to wait and see once we are on the track."
Team mate Alonso expressed similar sentiments. The Spaniard was quoted as saying the car needed more "pure pace".
"We need to improve the pure pace of the car," said the Spaniard, "On Sundays we are normally a little bit more competitive, taking advantage of all the experience in the team and the talent of the people in terms of how they prepare the car, how we manage the starts and the strategies we select. But we know we are not fast enough, especially on Saturday when everyone is in the same condition, namely on low fuel and new tires. We struggle to get into Q3 sometimes and we are not anywhere close to pole position."
Meanwhile, McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton (the former World Champion has yet to win a race this season and has expressed unhappiness over the level of support and attention he feels he is getting from the team; read earlier IBTimes UK reports here and here) declared the race was open and anyone could, potentially, win it.
"I think anyone can become the seventh winner this season, even the backmarkers, as it is very random this year. We have prepared in the best way possible, so we feel to be in a strong position, although we are up against some incredibly strong teams," the British driver told Formula1.com.
Finally, Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber have both insisted there will be no difference in performance this weekend, after the FIA forced the defending Constructors' champion to modify the car design after protests from rival teams. The drivers also added there were no technical irregularities in the car during the win at Monte Carlo.
"The car passed every single technical regulation after the race. All the teams against it did not make any protest after Monaco, the car passed the test after Bahrain and passed the test after Monaco. There has been a clarification and the rule is different. We had a car that was legal for the start of the season, but the rule has been changed and we will race on," Webber explained in a Daily Mail report.
"I didn't feel there was anything wrong the car in Monaco, or the car we had previously. Nevertheless I don't think there will be a big difference. It's just a shame it goes one way and then the other. It's difficult to understand what is really going on, but in the end I don't think there will be a big penalty, a big impact as to what we do on the circuit, so we should be okay," Vettel added, in the same report.