Simply Abu Dhabi XX

the amazing places to go, the stunning restaurants and the incredible malls like the one we are in now,” he said as he sat with me and Simply Abu Dhabi’s founder and publisher, Arnie Hira, for an exclusive chat behind the velvet rope of the Hackett store’s VIP meet-and-greet evening. “So it’s always fantastic to finish the season here and I hope we can finish as well in the race as we did last year with both cars on the podium.” Unfortunately history didn’t repeat the second and third place finishes he and his team mate Valteri Bottas recorded last year. Instead, Massa wrapped up the final race in eighth place with Bottas in 13th following a troubled race for both drivers. Still, and most importantly, it didn’t affect his sixth place in the Driver’s Championship and third place for Williams Martini Racing in the Constructor’s title. “Ferrari has improved a lot during this season and they had a slightly better car compared to us towards the end of the year. But I hope next year we can fight with them and have another season where we can be competitive with the big boys. We are doing a good job working hard with the team to improve the product and I feel satisfied with that, but of course we want more and this is the way you need to keep thinking in Formula One. “I will only be one hundred percent satisfied when I can win races and fight for the championship; unfortunately we couldn’t do that this year, but it was still a good season for us. Just two years ago, Williams finished ninth from 11 in the championship and in the last two seasons we made a lot of improvements and finished third, both last year and this year. So I would say that we are doing a good job.” With the winter season now in force and teams taking part in the unofficial world championship to prepare a better product for next year, Massa believes that 2016 will be much the same in terms who will be at the front of the pack and who will be chasing. “I don’t really see a big change for next year in terms of which drivers and teams will be competitive. I still believeMercedes will be very strong and maybe Ferrari can catch up a little bit more because they have improved over this season and if they keep going like that over winter, they could close up toMercedes. I really believe that we can catch them as well but we know it’s not going to be easy. “I say this because we are chasing the teams who have the big budgets and have a lot more opportunities, but we will keep fighting. I don’t believe we need to concede anything. I believe we can fight with the biggest teams to catch these guys,” he added. Since Massa made the switch from his long time employer Ferrari, where he was team mate toMichael Schumacher during the Prancing Horse’s glory years, to the underdog Williams outfit, he has taken the learning curve in his stride, and he always has a smile and a positive outlook that fits the demeanour of him in the Paddock as being one of the good guys. Felipe Massa’s infectious grin has rubbed off on the entire team which has improved in leaps and bounds since his arrival and – quite rightly – Williams Grand Prix Engineering and its racing division, Williams Martini Racing, are quietly confident of an even stronger year ahead in 2016. 7 2 S I M P LY A B U DH A B I