Massa in the Hot Seat
Massa is wearing the RM 011 Felipe Massa Watch
How did you get involved in racing? Who is your role model and why?
I always had a passion for racing cars, partly because my father was an amateur racer. He was my inspiration and there's no doubt about that. I always tried to be there when he raced and later the roles were reversed. When I was a kid, I was quick with whatever I had at hand, from a bicycle to skates. When I turned five, I was given a mini motorcross bike and you could say that's when I started thinking about becoming a racing driver...but there was a long way to go before getting into Formula 1.
You signed up with the Sauber team in 2002, and over the next few years, made it to the podium on several occasions. However, it wasn't until the Turkish GP that you secured your first F1 pole position and win. Tell us about the years in between? How did you keep yourself motivated?
These were definitely not the most difficult years, given that I was under contract to Ferrari since 2001 and then one year, [in] 2003, I spent as a test driver with them, when this involved a lot more useful work than it does now. It was more complicated in the beginning, when I was taking my first steps in Europe and I knew that if I did not win a race, I would not have enough money to do the next one. The motivation came from and still does come from a desire to reach my objectives. I wanted to race in F1 and I managed it, I wanted to win and I did that too, I want to be world champion and I came very close and I am still trying to do it.
That very same year, you won at the Brazilian GP, making it the first time a Brazilian driver had won at Interlagos since Ayrton Senna in 1993. How did you celebrate?
For a Brazilian, winning at Interlagos is something special and it was even more so that day, as I was wearing a race suit in the colours of our national flag.
What is your advice to aspiring F1 drivers?
If you really want to get to the top, you must be prepared to make many sacrifices. You also need to know how to choose the right people to help you. I was lucky to have a family that always supported me at all times and also to have met a manager, but above all a friend, like Nicolas Todt.
How do you prepare for a race? What is your pre-race routine?
Preparation is based on the team's timetable. From the first day of the race weekend, there is a tight schedule of obligations-from the meetings with the engineers to press interviews and meetings with our partners. In the midst of all that, I try and relax and concentrate on the event and that's where it's very important to have your family alongside you.
How would you describe your season so far?
Well, it's definitely not been the best, neither for the team nor for me. However, that does not mean it's been a total waste of time. Even in poor years you learn something and that's what we are doing in terms of being as well prepared as possible for next year, when we want to be in the hunt for the world title once again.
Which has been the most exciting moment of your career so far?
The races you win always give you an incredible feeling of satisfaction, but the most emotional of those would have to be my first victory in Formula 1, which came in Turkey in 2006 and also my first victory at Interlagos, later that same year.
Photos courtesy Richard Mille
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