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An emotional return for Massa

NEWS STORY
27/07/2011

This weekend Felipe Massa returns to the Hungaroring, a circuit on which he has never won yet came so close to taking his life.

It was here in 2009, during qualifying, when a spring fell from Rubens Barrichello's car and pierced the visor of his countryman who was following him, striking him just above his left eye and rendering him an unconscious passenger as his car headed into the tyre barriers.

While the scar is barely noticeable, some say the popular Brazilian has never fully recovered from the incident. Nonetheless, during his time back in the country he will renew some old acquaintances.

"After what happened two years ago, Budapest and the Hungarian people are an important part of my personal history," he told his team's website, "and once again I plan to meet the people who helped me through that difficult time, both at the track and the hospital.

"Since the accident, I have a lot of fans there," he added, "I don't think they became my fans because of the accident, but rather because I spent some time in Budapest and made a full recovery, which was like a victory for me and the people here felt part of that victory.

"Looking back at the Nurburgring, before we get on the serious business of racing, I have to say I don't think I can ever remember being that cold at a Grand Prix meeting," he continued, "and when you consider it was the middle of July in Europe, it was unbelievable. On the work related front, that cold weather played its part in assessing the level of improvement on the 150 Italia, because normally the low ambient and track temperatures would have been seriously against us in terms of our ability to get the tyres up to the optimal working temperature. However, at the Nurburgring, although we suffered from this problem, more obviously in qualifying, clearly it was not bad as it was a few races ago and that is a positive sign.

"In the race, our performance was very good, we ran at a strong pace and the car was competitive. At the first corner, I found myself behind Nico Rosberg and that conditioned my race, because it took me a long time to get past, as the Mercedes has excellent straight line speed and by then, the guys in front had managed to pull away. That was really my main issue on Sunday afternoon, but once I got past him, my pace was excellent and I was able to fight with those ahead of me. I had an exciting fight with Sebastian (Vettel,) while when I was battling with Webber, it was at a point where he had new tyres and I was about to come in. The fight with Sebastian went on for much of the race, right down to that final pit stop on the last lap, where unfortunately we lost out. It was a shame, but we know we still have work to do in improving some elements of the pit stop, including the wheel nut itself."

In terms of the fight for the titles, the Brazilian is realistic. "With a McLaren and a Ferrari finishing ahead of a Red Bull, there are suggestions that if we and McLaren maintain good form, then it might help us in the fight for the championship, by taking points from Red Bull. However, even if there are still nine races to go, it's not going to be an easy battle, specifically because Sebastian has such a big lead. But we continue to fight on a race by race basis, with the aim of winning as many as possible between now and the final in Brazil.

"On Wednesday afternoon, I will travel to Budapest and, on current form, we can be optimistic of having another positive weekend," he continued. "Adding to that feeling is the fact we will again have the soft and supersoft tyres, which we know suits our car best and in Hungary, where we can expect more normal summer weather, the hot temperatures will also be on our side. In addition, our development programme is still on-going and we will have some minor updates again this weekend, which I hope will make the car even stronger.

"The nature of the Hungaroring track means the race here has sometimes been a bit processional: this year for sure there will be more overtaking, not by a big amount as the main straight is not so long, but all the same, the DRS will help. Combined with the possibility of tyre degradation in the high temperatures, I think the crowd can expect a good show on Sunday with some interesting strategies to watch and certainly those conditions will suit us, as the 150 Italia is kind to its tyres in terms of degradation."

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