Felipe Massa targets improvement in qualifying

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Felipe Massa has encouraged Ferrari to improve their qualifying pace in order to give themselves the best possible chance of winning both championships in 2013.

Ferrari have made a good start to the season, winning two of the opening five races, but it is almost one year since the Italian team last claimed a pole position (2012 German GP). Massa was pleased with the start the team has made to the season, although he admitted there was still room for improvement.

“Overall, it’s been a positive start,” Massa said in a team statement. “In some races we did very well, while in others, Bahrain for example, we had a few problems which cost us valuable points.

“We have seen an all-round improvement this year, from the car to the way the team works and we have shown we are competitive, but clearly we can still improve, especially in qualifying. We are well aware of this and working towards that goal.”

The team will look to end its pole-less streak at next weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, where Massa started from P1 in 2008. The Brazilian driver believes that qualifying in the principality is especially important.

“I like the Monaco track a lot, partly because it’s my second home race, given I live there. You are always on the limit, very close to the barriers, with no room for error. Grid position is much more important than at any other track and so we hope we can do well right from Saturday.

“My aim is very simple, to always be in the fight for a podium finish.”

Having made a good start to the season, Felipe Massa appears to be back at his best. He lost out on the 2008 drivers’ title by just one point, but his form declined following an accident in 2009 which saw him miss half of the season. Now, with the criticism put behind him, the likeable Brazilian will be keen on building upon his first podium finish of 2013 last time out in Spain.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.