'Lots of happiness' at Williams - Massa
Felipe Massa insists he already feels at home with his new team as he prepares for his Williams debut in Melbourne.
Massa spent eight seasons at Ferrari, a tenure which came to an end at the end of last season. But despite the move from Italy to England Massa feels he has adjusted well, and admits he was taken aback with how receptive his new team was over the winter, and that it could be a huge reason for the optimism Williams enters the new season with.
"I had so much trouble to understand the car first," said Massa. "Understanding the right set up, but it was a very good job from the team, everything I said they understood. We saw an immediate improvement from day to day. That gave me a lot of happiness; everything I am saying, we are doing, and we are seeing an improvement. You feel the difference in the car the next day of driving. When I spoke to Williams the first time, there was a different atmosphere and thinking. They are a team which wants to grow and get back to where they once were. When I went to the factory for the first time I saw things I wanted to do. There was also a relief that the team I chose there was a possibility to race."
Massa admits he is enjoying being away from the constant glare of the most famous team in motorsport and expects that to be reflected in his performance on track.
"The pressure is definitely less [than Ferrari]," Massa said. "If you are competitive it will always be high in Formula One. But the way you feel it [at Ferrari] is different. But here I feel relaxed; I have a lot of respect for the team and the way they work. Maybe it will [have an effect on my driving]. It helps, I feel good."
Massa brought his former race engineer Rob Smedley across to Williams with him, albeit to join a new role as head of vehicle performance, ending one of F1's most successful and endearing race-day partnerships. But Massa is adapting well to life with new race engineer Andrew Murdoch, even though he admits his Irish accent does highlight the cultural differences he is still adapting to in England.
"It's definitely not a small change coming into a new team, and changing engineer after having one for so long. He's good, he's intelligent. His accent is not so easy to understand as he's Irish and I've never been there! I've never lived in England so the very English way of talking is something I'm not used to, and there's so many different names to learn and new directions that are new. At the beginning it looks difficult to learn how an English team works compared to an Italian team but now everything is more automatic. What I want, they are doing the way I want, which is nice.
"The mentality and atmosphere of the team is very different. At Ferrari it is very open, you never see a mechanic working quietly. You never see an Italian talking without shaking the hands! The English are very quiet and correct. They talk to you like they've done something wrong even if they haven't. I'm really enjoying it a lot. I'm very open and Latin. I'm trying to pass on the way I am to the team."